Does your dog ever seem to get a burst of energy and start racing around your house or apartment? This frantic running and spinning can seem to come out of nowhere and stop just as quickly as it starts. Dog owners may find themselves putting the living room back together and wondering if their dog is possessed. Although alarming, these chaotic sudden bursts of energy are quite normal and known amongst veterinarians and dog trainers as “the zoomies.”
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Zoomies are a seemingly random burst of energy that result in dogs quickly running around. This can look like racing around the house, bounding on and off furniture, and spinning in circles. As quickly as the zoomies appear, they usually go away and your dog returns to their baseline temperament. Although zoomies can be a bit alarming for owners to watch, most dogs seem to enjoy the fast-paced activity. “Owners should rest assured that dog zoomies are normal,” says Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, veterinarian at SeniorTailWaggers.com and director of Kingsgate Animal Hospital. “There is no need to worry unless the dog hurts itself or becomes aggressive during these episodes. Any concerns should be brought to the dog’s veterinarian.”
Why do dogs get the zoomies?
The zoomies can sometimes occur after stressful situations like a vet visit or after a bath. Other dogs get a burst of energy after going to the bathroom, or first thing in the morning after waking up. “No one knows exactly why dogs exhibit these random episodes of increased activity,” admits Whittenburg.
Although the zoomies are a bit of a mystery for dog experts, she notes there are some schedule and environmental factors that can trigger zoomies including “excitement, playtime, other animals, and pent-up energy.” From a training perspective, dogs who aren’t getting enough physical exercise or mental enrichment may be more prone to getting the zoomies, but it’s not always an indicator your dog’s exercise needs aren’t being met.
Although in most instances zoomies aren’t anything to worry about, any significant change in behavior is something to talk with your dog’s veterinarian about. “If you notice a major change in your dog, for example, they never or rarely had the zoomies before and now are zooming a lot, you should consult your veterinarian,” Whittenburg encourages. She also says to consult the vet “if your dog’s zoomies persist longer than usual, are occurring more frequently or at odd times of the day, or are accompanied by any abnormal behavior such as disorientation or stumbling.” In rare instances, she cautions, seizures, canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, as well as some other endocrine and neurologic disorders can at times present in ways that resemble zoomies.
Although puppies and young dogs experience zoomies more frequently than older dogs, dogs of any age may experience a sudden burst of energy. The next time your dog starts zipping around your home sending area rugs skidding or throw pillows flying, chances are they’re just having a good time. Zoomies don’t last long, and your dog will soon be ready to relax with you on the couch — once you’ve put it back together, that is.