Most pet owners are familiar with dog zoomies. One moment your pooch is calm and relaxed, and the next he or she is running circles around the living room. It's almost as if someone suddenly flicked your dog's switch to "on." While it may seem unnatural that your usually mild-mannered pup is suddenly a little monster, the zoomies are perfectly normal.
What are dog zoomies?
What has come to be known as "the zoomies" is actually called a frenetic random activity period (FRAP). Veterinarian Rachel Barrack, who works at Animal Acupuncture in New York City, told Paw Culture that FRAPs are "a totally normal release of pent-up energy." So don't worry if you're whipping your head back and forth trying to keep your eyes on your dog. FRAPS are nothing to be worried about, and they'll be over in a few minutes.
Why do dogs get the zoomies?
Your pup's sudden change in behavior is sure to elicit the question, "Why do dogs get zoomies?" While experts don't know the exact cause of the zoomies, dogs can get excited by any number of things: meeting a new dog, meeting a new human, going to the vet, or even taking a trip to the pet store. Sometimes this excitement is enough to trigger the zoomies. Other times, just seeing another dog engage in high-activity play with a human or another dog can be enough to set off the zoomies, says Barrack.
Puppy zoomies are a form of stress relief for some pooches. If your dog has just had his nails trimmed at the groomers or he's suffered through a few shots at the vet's office, your dog is probably happy to no longer be in an uncomfortable situation. Just as a little kid perks up when he or she is done with school, so does your dog after his or her bath.
Can all dogs get the zoomies?
Vets generally agree that dogs of all ages and breeds can get the zoomies. Weeks-old puppies are less likely to exhibit FRAPs just because they don't have the body strength or motor skills to do so. However, once they get a little older, they can certainly start to run wild. Even older, senior dogs can get the zoomies if they're feeling good.
So in a sense, the zoomies are an indicator that your dog is in good health. “I’ve never seen a dog that is severely ill exhibit such behavior,” veterinarian Patrick Mahaney said.
Are puppy zoomies dangerous?
If Max is running figure eights in the backyard, he's totally fine. But what do you do if your dog gets the zoomies during a walk and yanks the leash from you before bolting away? Nearby drivers might not have quick enough reflexes if Max decides to dart across the street, so your best option is to remain calm. If you run screaming after your dog, poor Max might think it's a game and keep running. Instead, see if you can get your dog's attention with a treat before running in the opposite direction. Chances are Max will come chasing after you, and you can regain control of the leash.
But let's say you're inside when Bella starts tearing through the house. In this case, make sure she's not on a slippery surface like tile or wood floor, and block off the stairs so she can't take a tumble. If sliding isn't an issue, you need to be worried about her running into furniture — like a cabinet full of china — and either hurting herself or causing things to fall and break. Opening the patio door may be enough to entice her to finish the zoomies outside where she can't hurt herself.
How to Stop Dog Zoomies
FRAPs are a normal occurrence — except when they're not. FRAPs can sometimes be the result of stress, and if that's the case, finding ways to help Buddy unwind might be the key to stopping dog zoomies.
Frequent or long walks can provide an outlet for your dog if Buddy's stress is the result of inactivity. You can also make an appointment with your vet to talk through more options that will help Buddy relax.
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