Dog Zoomies – Why Do Dogs Run Around Like Crazy?

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Zoomies - dog behavior that looks a little crazy may be quite normal. Find out all about the zoomies here

Dog owners are often amazed and even horrified the first time they witness a case of the dog zoomies.

The zoomies is quite common in Labradors, so today we are going to investigate this strange behavior.

Let’s find out what causes the dog zoomies, why dogs do it, and how you can reduce or manage your dog when he runs around like crazy.

Is this the dog zoomies?

Does your dog suddenly runs madly around the house like a wild animal, low to the ground with legs bent.

Do his eyes look a little crazy, is his butt tucked underneath him, and does he appear to have no regard for his own safety or your best china?

If so, you’re probably watching a case of the zoomies in action

The word zoomies really does sum up this crazy behavior very well.

What do dog zoomies look like?

A dog with the zoomies isn’t just clumsy or restless. The behavior is quite distinctive, as is the posture of the dog.

kong gyro dog  toyIt’s almost a squatting kind of run – difficult to describe but you’ll recognize it once you’ve seen it.

You may also see play bows (where the dog goes down on his elbows with his butt in the air) interspersed with the running.

Another feature is the sudden way that the zoomies start.

A dog with a case of the zoomies will break into a flat out gallop from a standing start.

Sometimes right in the middle of your living room! There is often very little warning.

Why does my dog run around like crazy?

People often use the word ‘crazy’ to describe the dog zoomies. The dog will be oblivious to any damage, often crashing into tables and knocking chairs flying.

If he’s outdoors in your yard, he’ll often race in a big circle at break neck speed, leaning right over to turn as tight as he can. And perhaps stopping on occasion to spin around and set off in the opposite direction.

The dog zoomies explained. Find out why dogs get them and what you should do.

He may well not hear your pleas to ‘stop’ or ‘look out’

The zoomies don’t last long. But they can leave a trail of destruction behind them. And for a new dog owner, they can be quite shocking.

So what exactly is going on here. Has a dog with the zoomies got a problem? Or is the problem all yours?

Let’s discover what the scientists say

Frap dog behavior

Of course, biologists have come up with another name, so you’ll also hear zoomies referred to as ‘frapping’

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Frapping dog is not an expletive (though you might feel inclined to use one)!

Frap is an abbreviation

F = frenetic
R = random
A = activity
P = period

And it’s a pretty self explanatory one.

Why do dogs get the zoomies?

We don’t know exactly why some dogs are prone to frapping or getting the zoomies and other dogs aren’t.

We do know that the zoomies are more common during time periods when a dog is full of energy – in other words he hasn’t been exercised for a while, or has been shut in the house for a few hours.

Sometimes you’ll see a playbow before the zoomies start!

Some dogs never get the zoomies, no matter how full of energy they are, and others get them frequently. So that isn’t the only explanation.

Some dogs may have a particular trigger or triggers. Such as after grooming, a game or a bath.  Though if this is your dog’s only trigger, this may not be a true case of the zoomies

Why do dogs run around after a bath?

If your dog races around after his bath he might not have the zoomies. He may just be expressing his delight at the bath being over.

Other dogs will zoom around with their head on the ground and their butt in the air after a bath, as they try to rub themselves dry on your carpets. One of my spaniels does this.

Again, it isn’t quite the same as the zoomies, which involves that distinctive posture I describe above.

And a dog that is just drying himself will be more responsive to you than a dog with the zoomies.

So how can you tell if your dog is about to get the zoomies?  Is it possible to recognize the signs?

Zoomies – dog on the brink!

Zoomies are most common in dogs that are puppies or quite young, that haven’t had much exercise in the last few hours, and that are starting to get a bit excited, or playful

Play bows can be a sign

If your dog has had the zoomies in the past and starts to play bow indoors, there is a good chance you are about to see a case of the zoomies.

While dog zoomies are not in anyway linked with aggression, occasionally a young dog will start nipping during frapping behavior

Dog zoomies – biting

If your dog is nipping or biting during an attack of the zoomies, you need to change the way you manage him

Avoid physically handling him, and stop any game you might have been playing. He needs to have a chance to calm down.

If you can open a door and let the dog outside to burn up some energy in your yard, then do so.

Have your dog wear a house line indoors, so that you can restrain him at arms length if you need to. Check out our section on calming an over excited puppy for more information

Are the zoomies harmful to my dog?

Dog zoomies are not intrinsically harmful. They won’t give your dog a seizure or take him into some kind of permanent emotional melt down.

Despite the clumsiness of dogs that get the zoomies, they don’t usually hurt themselves in any significant way, especially outdoors.

What to do when your dog gets the zoomies

Don’t be tempted to chase your dog when he gets the zoomies, indoor or out.  Chasing him is likely to excite him even further.

Move him outdoors if at all possible

I have had a lot of success with simply opening the back door and waving the dog outside the instant the zoomies begin.

If the zoomies are a big problem for you, think about what might have triggered them so that you can work on preventing or reducing them in the future.

How to prevent dog zoomies

Because dog zoomies is normal behavior you don’t need to do anything, other than help your dog learn to express this behavior in your yard, rather than around your coffee table.

But, you may find that offering your dog more ways to dispel his energy helps to reduce frapping episodes, or even stop him from doing it altogether

Exercise will help to prevent the zoomies. Dogs won’t normally zoom when they are physically tired.

Mental stimulation helps too. Dogs may be more prone to the zoomies when they are bored. A couple of training sessions each day will help to exercise your dog’s mind

Most dogs are more likely to have the zoomies when they are already in a playful of excited state.  So learning how to calm a puppy or an older dog will help you.

Dog zoomies – summary

A dog with the zoomies is not going mad. Nor is he bad, or dangerous.

Apart from the risk of tripping over something or smashing up the furniture the zoomies isn’t harmful to him.

Frapping or dog zoomies is a normal dog behavior but if it’s causing you a problem, there are steps you can take to reduce it. Increases in exercise and training are the most effective solutions.

Dogs can be taught that zooming is only appropriate outdoors. And if you are alert to your dog’s triggers, you can anticipate most cases of the dog zoomies and move them into your yard.

How about you?

Does your dog get the zoomies?  Tell us about him in the comments and share your tips for coping.

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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.

39 COMMENTS

  1. my young lab bitch does it usually when she’s not had playtime with other dogs. How she dodges the garden pots and seats i don’t know but she does and it ends with her digging holes. I always call it her mad half hour.

  2. My 2 year old yellow lab, Maggie gets the zoomies when I’m getting ready to take her for a walk. I just thought she was excited about a walk. She races from the living room to the dining room, runs around the table and back into the living room several times. The only damage is the rug in the dining room gets schrunched up. I love watching her 🙂

  3. Wow, so relieved to read your article & COMMENTS from other families who have witnessed the ‘zoomies’. Our Maya does it occasionally and Usually after we just played or long walk or even after our daughter has taken her for a run. I was concerned that she had a ‘problem’ to me it seemed as if her ‘blood was boiling’. At times when I’m concerned for her safety or others, I call her for a treat and slip her collar & leash on, sometimes it takes to ‘stroll’ (walking very slowly) around talking calmness to help her cool down!? I use the ‘leash method’ inside as well, at times when Maya is bugging us at inconvenient times. Although it works I’ve been wanting to ask someone like yourself if this is appropriate, or demeaning to do. Our Maya is 3 1/2 adopted from a shelter at 1 1/2, and previous to us had been unsuccessful at ‘training for the border patrol’ whatever that means and is very skittish to loud noises.

  4. My yellow lab Duffy gets the zoomies when his dad indicates he wants to play.. Just one playful look or motion can send him into the zoomies.. I just stand aside and watch.. He gets the craziest look in his eyes and sometimes grabs a pillow and runs around shaking it.. Sometimes he sends his dad flying if he decides to pounce on him.. We can get him to get the zoomies 99% of the time when his dad says Duffy in a playful voice and then looks at him and pulls a cover over his head and then plays peek a boo.. Instant zoomies!

  5. My 9month old black lab bitch also ‘has the zoomies’ 2or 3times a day , she has completely ruined the lawn doing it in this damp wet weather. Thought there was something wrong with her until I read this …thank you . Also does anyone have any tips to stop her chewing everything in her sight eg bedding ,towels,stones etc would be most grateful for anything as she has destroyed all her toys gone thru numerous bedding …thank you in advance

  6. My 2 yrs old Lab Hachi has Zoomies a few times a month. Thankfully outside, and mainly after he’s been for a poop or if he’s excited.
    Yesterday it was the first reason, and after the weather at the weekend, a rather soggy front garden is now almost bare and all the grass has been turned over to mud….lovely!! Summer hurry up!! 😣

    I love watching Hachi’s Zoomies, but do worry in the back garden as I have a couple of large steps, but he always manages to clear them both!!
    Such very clever doggie traits haha 😅😀

  7. I love it when my guy gets the zoomies – he’s usually pretty calm so I like seeing him with that excited puppy energy. I can tell when he wants to zoom and I say “go crazy!” and on command he charges in zig zags with his butt low. It’s always outside and doesn’t last that long and always makes me laugh. I think he does it to entertain me.

  8. My lab, Joy, has always done zoomie, and still does at age 7. She’s always done them outside in the yard and I love watching her in full, wide-open zoomie mode. Zoomies strike when she is at her happiest…Even at play dates with her friends. To me, “Joy Zoomies” are an expression of her happiness. I hope to someday capture a really good video!

  9. My Lab, and in fact every dog i have ever seen do this are usually overjoyed for some reason. I have never considered it a negative behavior. I wish I had the ability to express myself the way they do!! I always send them outside to finish their Zoomie. I dog sit many many types of dogs and almost all of the younger dogs have a case of the Zoomies at one time or another. I have never ever considered it as abnormal.

  10. Most of my Labs have done this. The one we currently have does on the spot 360 degree spins as well. Also, and this could be frightening to young children or the elderly, she runs at you and uses you as a spring board to change direction. Fortunately she doesn’t do this with anybody other than me.

  11. Our chocolate lab is 4 months old and gets the zombies approximately 5 times a week….I wasn’t sure what was happening in the beginning just thought she was going crazy. Thanks for this article…I feel better knowing this happens with labs. We don’t have an enclosed yard for her to run but I put a long lead on her so she can act crazy but zombies mostly happens in our house. Do they grow out of it or should I expect that this is normal lab behavior, well, I guess normal for Maggie? Thank you Pippa. I love all your articles. They have helped me a lot.

  12. Mine has the zoomies, Lola, it only lasts a while. She also pretends shes a crocodile, or alligator and bangs her teeth together.
    Lola is fascinated with the veins on my legs, she sniffs them. I have mentioned it to my doctors, as Ive seen TV programmes about it and it appears quite normal but not with my GPs, consultants, or Professors. Does anyone have any ideas? I’ve always had retrievers before but Lola my black Lab is very special. She has a sense of humour, very loving, last week we were sitting on the sofa and she huffed and puffed and hit me gently on the back – as if we had heard a joke. She is very stubborn but she’s so lovely. Maddie xx

  13. My lab has the zoo it’s quite often. She is 16 months old. As I have a fenced yard she just zooms she has a small bucket and she tosses it and throws it around.

  14. Our 17 month old black lab gets the zoomies or ‘mad moments’ as we call them when im going out the front door. Most often than not she comes with me on trips out in the car so just as im going to open the front door of the house she’s poised all excited then dives into the front garden and has her mad moment lol. Its so funny to watch. With her bottom low to the ground. It’s as if her behind cant keep up with her front. She’ll run round the cars few times untill im next to my car and opening the back seat door, then she dives in the back seat.
    She’s been coming with me in the car since day one and I think its just excitement with that. So funny to watch and she seems she’s having a blast!

  15. My dog tends to do this after a walk. If she’s very muddy after a walk I let her into the back yard and go in and open the back door to let her in. After a few laps of the garden she comes in has a drink and goes to sleep. Yesterday after we had been out for about an hour she suddenly started doing this on her lead! Then calmed down and we walked on. She is a 15 month old black lab who has plenty of company and excercise, training and play.

  16. Unfortunately my pup got the zoomies whilst I was walking him on the beach, I will never have my back to him when he does this ever again because he plowed straight into the back of my leg and broken the three main bones in my ankle, still recovering 8 months after.

  17. My Black 2 year old Lab likes to chase her tail whenever I ask her if she wants to go outside. She spins in circles and knocks whatever is in her way unto the floor, only for a minute or so. Is this just her Zoomie way of getting excited and want to go outside.

  18. I love hearing these stories! My 7 year old black lab, Jackson, still gets zoomies, however, we call it “crazy dog”. He wil run in wild circles in the yard kicking up clumps of grass like a race horse! If you stand in the center of his circle and spank his tooshie as he flies by he does it twice as long. It is hilarious and he loves it!

  19. We call it “butt running”. My dogs do it when they are really happy and excited to see someone or do something-like retrieving! They are always outside when it happens.

  20. We love when’ve our pup starts the zoomies! We think it’s hilarious and encourage her to keep going. She also doesn’t damage anything when she goes so maybe that’s why we are entertained instead of mad… she does this randomly, or after breakfast in the morning, when we give her a Greenie, after bath, and has even done it after coming home from a 3 mile run. Lab energy! 🙂

  21. Hi Pippa! I have been reading your articles ever since we got our now almost 2 year old English black lab. You have helped me a lot with questions I’ve had about her behavior. She has had the “zoomies” since she was a little puppy. Very often. Indoors it has become more controlled. She knows just when to turn so she doesn’t ram into the coffee table or another piece of furniture. Outdoors is another story. We also don’t have a fenced in yard, so letting her out loose is not an option. So we take her out on the leash and sometimes she has zoomies while on leash. When she zooms around me she wraps the leash around me until she comes to the end of it, which stops her. End of the zoom. If she just runs in the other direction she is so strong she has pulled several family members down including me. If I try to reel her in and grab her harness she tries to nip at the leash, my hand, whatever is near her. Not viciously, of course, I always just attribute it to her being “possessed”. Thank you so much for your wonderful articles.

  22. My service dog (a lab) simply cracks me up. I asked my vet about that since my former labs were quite the opposite and very mellow, he also says it’s a normal Labrador trait in many. My service dog is very focused when she’s wearing her vest and working. But when she’s in the yard, you never know when she gets the nutty attack and then it’s just getting out of her way.

  23. My 1 1/2 year old lab get the zoomies typically right after I have just taken her on a walk. We walk at least 2 miles a day so I don’t think her’s are a case of needing exercise. I actually enjoy watching the joy and reckless abandon that goes on for 30 seconds or so.

  24. My 9 month old chocolate lab gets the zoomies a few times a week. I love it he is so funny, bowing and jump bowing, his rear stays in the air but his head bobs up and down. Nothing gets in is way and he’s a big boy so once he starts everyone has to sit down

  25. It just another of the real delights in living with a Labrador … ours is ‘triggered’ by needing exercise (currently curtailed due to a sprain injury), by our playing zombie walking – and often by having a poo in the garden. Alarming for people unused to them, but usually just another shared joke between us and the dog, once she comes-to and takes stock. And yes, she is very likely to have a toy in her mouth throughout.

  26. I have an 8 month old fox red labrador dog that does this … he circuits the living room and as he grew started to incorporate the furniture after a few attempts of trying to stop it now get him to go to his pen in the hall by using ‘out’
    Which saves the furniture and usually settles down after a few minutes with a rubber bone toy

  27. After a spell outside in the garden our brown lab trecks in to the house, back or front, with very muddy paws so we say ‘wait’ in the hall and she has to have her paws wiped – part of which is facilitated by her lying down on her back so we can get to her back feet properly. She loves this ( especially as she has seen us do similar with the cat when he gets soaked outside) but when she’s been wiped she jumps up, rushes to her bed, picks up her big soft toy dog in her mouth and zooms off just as you describe in a mad frenzy.

  28. Ha! I thought this was something that only my guy, Drax, does. I’m pleasantly surprised that this is a real lab thing! When he does this, we just let it run its course. Then Drax will usually take a nap when he finished. Thank you for the info!!

  29. Hi Pippa,

    New reader here. I signed up because we have a 2 year old White German Shepherd – Yellow Lab combo, and basically she really is a Lab wearing a German Shepherd suit of clothes and a White German Shepherd digestive system. And yes, she has the Zoomies, five or six times a week. She is our sixth dog, and we never had this happen before. We can’t let her outside because our yard isn’t fenced, so she just roars around the house like a little demon, running it out, and collapsing on the floor with a huge sigh. She is very agile, and doesn’t bump into anything. Sometimes she carries a ball or piece of rawhide along with her, so I thought it was a bit of the predator coming out.

    Thanks for your wonderful site,
    Dorothy

  30. Both of our block head English labs have experienced the Zoomies multiple times, our American lab, not so much. Luckily it’s always been outside..we used to clap our hands and playfully shout “get it” to our dogs whilst they zoomed with tails tucked..they would “zoom” even faster and keep it going for a short burst longer…they always seemed happy dong this…seeing how they are labs, I believe they were happy,knowing they were entertaining and pleasing us!

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