“Zoomies” have been a part of the lives of dog owners far longer than Zoom meetings! The exact origin of the term is uncertain, but the first part of the word is likely a straightforward use of the verb “zoom” which means to move or travel very quickly. Zoomies became a slang term used by pet owners to describe sudden, short-lived spurts of activity by their dogs.
The official scientific term for zoomies is “Frenetic Random Activity Periods” or FRAPs. These periods usually display as bursts or explosions of energy where your dog may race around in circles doing laps of the house or garden, usually with his back end tucked in. Some dogs spin around, chasing their tails or running figure-eights. Others make sharp turns or sudden changes in direction and dogs usually get a wild, excited look in their eyes when they’re in the zoomie zone.
No need to worry. Your dog is not going crazy! Dog zoomies are a natural canine behaviour, in fact they are one of the most charming and entertaining behaviours performed by dogs. While there is no known specific cause of FRAPs in dogs, they appear to be a way to release pent-up energy. A dog who has been home alone all day with nothing to do may feel the need to zoom around the house or garden to expend some of the energy that has been building up all day, and get some mental relief from hours of under-stimulation.
Zoomies are also thought to be a way for animals to relieve stress and anxiety after experiencing an event that may cause them to build up tension, such as being restrained to be bathed or groomed or after getting home from a visit to the vet.
A lot of dogs zoom around when they cannot control their excitement, such as when their owners return home from work or period of absence. This is one way of expressing their happiness that their owners are back. Food-oriented dogs may do zoomies around feeding time or after eating. Dogs that love water will also zoom around after the adrenaline rush created by a bath, and this has the added advantage of drying them off.
It may be common for some dogs to get zoomies at specific periods during the day, usually in the mornings or late at night. This may be related to the built-in biological rhythm of that particular dog, the same way some humans observe that they feel more energetic around the same time every day. If your dog regularly does zoomies right before bed, he may be blowing off some steam before settling down for a longer rest.
Zoomies are most common in puppies and young dogs, but many dogs continue to get the zoomies later on in life as well. Some owners are able to instigate an attack of the zoomies by playing a certain way with the dog or making a particular sound that sets the dog off. When dogs realise that zooming around like crazy makes their owners laugh and shower them with affection, they may learn to do this behaviour to get attention from their owners.
While zoomies themselves are not harmful and typically last only a few minutes, a dog racing around the house or yard may be in danger of running into sharp objects and injuring themselves or of knocking something over, so try to ensure that the environment in which the dog is zooming is safe.
If your dog does zoomies frequently or at unusual times, he may be telling you that he needs more exercise and mental stimulation.
Copyright © Kristel-Marie Ramnath 2023