Are you dealing with a dog that seems to be possessed by a goblin? It may have the zoomies! Here’s what you should know about this frantic behavior.
The best way to understand your dog’s hyper behavior is by recognizing it as a case of the zoomies, which is more formally known as Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAP). This is a temporary crazed state where your dog suddenly and inexplicably races around the house, up and down furniture, and then stops suddenly, only to do the same thing again in another nonsensical pattern.
The zoomies behavior is often due to releasing excess energy. Common reasons for the zoomies include feeling excited, scared, or anxious. The zoomies can also be caused to anticipate something (be it mealtime or playtime).
Other common reasons include attention-getting, overstimulation, a sugar high, and simply part of owning a hyperactive dog breed. Less common reasons include the potential of your dog having ADHD or an itch or an injury driving them crazy.
How do you possibly know what’s going on? Read on below for all of your zoomies-know-how.
What are dog zoomies?
The zoomies are the term that your average pet parent would use, but it isn’t the technical term. The agreed-upon term is Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAP). These hyperactive states are healthy, normal, and funny for those pet parents that are used to it.
When your dog gets into a FRAP state, they often won’t listen to anything you’re saying, or they will see it as “permission” to get even more hyperactive and random in their activities.
Why do dog zoomies happen?
As mentioned briefly above, the dog zoomies happen due to having pent-up energy. They are very common in dogs that have been restrained all day (such as in a kennel) or puppies and high-energy dogs that just have so much energy they don’t know what to do about it. You may even notice that your dogs have different kinds of FRAPs depending on the trigger!
Reasons why your dog is so hyper all of sudden
So, let’s take a detailed look at why your dog is suddenly racing around like the world is on fire. The most common and varied ones include:
- Your dog is excited, scared, or anxious
- Your dog knows it’s mealtime
- Your dog wants to play
- Your dog wants your attention
- You have a hyperactive dog breed
- Your dog is on a sugar high
- This behavior is encouraged
- Your dog is overstimulated
- Your dog has ADHD
- Your dog is itchy or injured
Your dog is excited, scared, or anxious
Dogs feel all emotions very strongly. This includes excitement, fear, and anxiety. If your dog is feeling overwhelmed by any or all of these emotions, they will get the zoomies as they attempt to work it all out. This is similar to how humans pace, hop up and down, and so on. Once the overwhelming emotion works itself out, they’ll calm down.
Your dog knows it’s mealtime
Dogs love food more than, like, anything. So, dogs will get the zoomies in excitement and anticipation of their mealtime, particularly when you grab their bowl and head to the food bin. This is often short-lived since they’ll want to get back to their bowl as soon as you put it down again! This often happens with the treat jar, too.
Your dog wants to play
If your dog wants to play with you or another household animal, they’ll take off in a fit of the zoomie and incentivize the other person or pet to join in. They’ll yip and leap and race and bound. Don’t engage with them in this state.
In the fit of a FRAP, dogs can be unaware of their strength and force, so they can injure you or other dogs because they bowl you over or bite you. It can also lead to aggression in otherwise friendly and normal dogs because the play is too rough.
Your dog wants your attention
Dogs just want to be loved, specifically by you. If your dog doesn’t feel that you are paying them enough attention, they’ll go into a fit to get your attention. You’ll want to be careful not to give in and engage with them, as brutal as this is. Withdraw attention and affection until they calm down and settle down. Once they do, you can give them the “reward” of attention for the correct behavior.
You have a hyperactive dog breed
Some dogs are more hyper than others, as dog breeders and many experienced pet parents will tell you. This means that the frequency of the FRAPs can increase the more naturally hyperactive your dog is. This is something to think about carefully when choosing your dog breed if the zoomies are something that bothers you.
Your dog is on a sugar high
We’ve all seen kids on a sugar high, so imagine what a dog on a sugar high is like! If your dog has had too many treats or human food with too much sugar, which is bad for them anyway, you’ll be dealing with a sugar-fuelled FRAP. They’ll also crash hard, which can be a relief for them and us!
This behavior is encouraged
Sometimes we unknowingly encourage this behavior. Take the above examples of a FRAP meaning your dog wants to play or wants attention. If you engage with them and give in, you’re teaching them that this gets what they want.
This is why you should stay calm, still, and disengaged (outside of making sure they don’t hurt themselves). This will help them see that this kind of frantic behavior gets them nothing. And they won’t do it again, as much as they can control it.
The more you give in to the behavior, the more common and frequently your dog’s fits will be since they will learn that one equals the other!
Your dog is overstimulated
An overstimulated dog will almost certainly get the zoomies from emotions or actual stimulation from their senses. It could be a delicious smell, a crowd full of people, a dog park, or even a car ride. This can often be further complicated when your dog inadvertently gets all of the other dogs going with a FRAP! They are contagious, according to many specialists. You’ll want to have your leash ready to control the chaos.
Your dog has ADHD
Dogs can have ADHD just like humans. This is common in intelligent and hyperactive dogs, much like in humans. If you can’t find a trigger, it’s a good idea to have a vet and specialist take a look to see what’s going on!
Your dog is itchy or injured
If you notice that these FRAPs happen now when they didn’t before, it might be a specific trigger. For example, something is making them itchy, or something is painful, so they are triggered by someone or something touching them in that spot that makes them uncomfortable. This oversensitivity and/or stimulation can set them off on the zoomies. You’ll want to test them to see if it happens every time you touch them in a certain area. If so, it could be a sign of a problem.
Do I need to worry about my dog’s zoomies?
Most experts agree that a case of the zoomies is harmless and normal. However, there are a few things that you need to think about regarding its cause. For example, if your dog has a FRAP because they are itchy or possibly injured, you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet to see what’s going on.
If you suspect that your dog has ADHD, this should also be diagnosed and confirmed by a vet and possibly a pet behavior specialist. You can manage it with natural and pharmaceutical options as long as you take the right approach. A specialist is a must when looking at understanding doggy ADHD.
The other consideration with the dog zoomies is that they tend to lose their head. They’re so focused on simply working out this excess energy that they forget about logical things — like walls and stairs. You’ll want to keep as much control over your dog, safety-wise, as possible. If you have the option of putting them on a leash, do so. Or let them out into a fenced-in yard where they can fly around with nothing to clothesline them or injure them.
It’s not uncommon for FRAPs to end in injury due to dogs tumbling down a flight of stairs or running facefirst into a door or wall.
How to calm down a hyperactive dog
Struggling to figure out just want to do to help get your dog through a case of the zoomies? Don’t worry; there are many things that you can do.
The first thing is to stay calm and keep yourself still. If your dog is on a leash, keep the leash as clear of their legs, torso, and neck as possible. If they are zooming around in a fenced backyard, stand close by and watch them run around. If they are in the house, stay out of the way as much as possible, but stay close. Keep yourself still and calm but vigilant of any possible harm.
One of the mistakes that many well-intentioned pet parents have is to try to stop their dog mid-FRAP. This is not a good idea since dogs can even get aggressive during the session due to their frantic state. Let them work out their energy however they want and need. If you have the possibility of getting them clipped onto a leash to keep them safe, this is safe to do. But don’t try to physically restrain them.
Last but not least, you need to always be kind to your dog. A dog who has the zoomies isn’t being disobedient. They have the equivalent of someone hopping and jumping up and down because they are too excited to sit still.
Be kind to your dog and simply remind yourself that FRAPs are temporary and don’t happen every day, no matter how frustrated you are. No matter how “wild” your dog becomes, they are still the dog you know and love — just give them a minute!
How to stop a dog from being hyper
As mentioned, these FRAPs will happen from time to time for every dog out there. No matter how well-behaved or mild your dog is, every dog will have these moments.
When you want to minimize these sessions as much as possible, you’ll need to first understand if there is a specific cause or a pattern that develops. For example, does your dog always get the zoomies right before serving them supper? Or does it always happen after being let out of their kennel when you return home? Do they get the zoomies when they see their favorite human or dog coming up the walkway?
Learn the pattern and adjust your routine so that you can add as much mental and physical stimulation to their life before this happens as possible. The less energy pent up, the rarer their zoomies are, and the milder the zoomies.
Sometimes vets will recommend a specific diet that can help calm hyperactive dogs. If you find that no amount of mental and physical exercise can help with your dog’s zoomies, which may indicate ADHD, this can help.
Hyperactive states in dogs are more commonly known as the zoomies or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAP) from a clinical perspective. Dogs get the zoomies when they need to release excess energy from various triggers. These can include emotions like excitement, fear, or anxiety. It can also be due to anticipating mealtime or attention from a loved one. They can get the zoomies due to being under-or over-stimulated, a sugar high, or even just due to breed mentality. Rarely FRAPS are caused by ADHD or an itch or injury.
Dogs act hyper at random times to work out excessive amounts of energy. There are many causes, and these states can be rare, common, or frequent. Understand what is causing it and how to address it to keep everyone safe and secure.
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