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Every pet owner has heard the term “zoomies” at least one point in their life. One moment your dog is laying down peacefully chewing on his toy, and the next you’re met with a boatload of excitement!
Even better is when your pup decides to release his maniac side before bed, right?
There’s no doubt we all love our furry friends, but sometimes we just really want to go to sleep. And an outburst of hazardous enthusiasm from your pup might be the last thing you need when you’re exhausted after a long day.
You may then ask yourself, why does my dog get the zoomies before bed?
Dogs can get the zoomies before bed for a few reasons, with the likeliest being that they’re understimulated (mentally or physically) or they have to pee! It can also be due to overtiredness, behavior reinforcement, or separation anxiety. Puppies can get zoomies if they aren’t trained yet and don’t know what bedtime means!
So, what exactly are “zoomies” and what does it do to your dog?
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what “zoomies” mean and how you can identify them! Then, we will dive into possible reasons your dog or puppy has a case of this madness before bed, how to stop them, and when you should be concerned.
What Are (Exactly) Zoomies?
Your dog is experiencing what experts call Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), which is what most pet owners refer to as “zoomies”. The scientific term is pretty self-explanatory, as frenetic means fast in an uncontrolled way (think “wild”). Random, is well, random, as it happens by a seemingly unconscious decision from your pup. Zoomie activity only occurs in periods of time as an animal can’t simply have that much energy to go all day!
So, these frantic and energetic periods of activity manifest in your dog by him tucking his tail, keeping his bum close to the ground, and eyes widening like he’s just seen a ghost. Cue the sprinting in large circles, tail-chasing, toy-wrangling madness!
Once their lunatic moment is over, your pet is probably going to lie down, completely exhausted as if he’s just run a full marathon. It is a natural phenomenon, and quite entertaining once you know that there’s no harm in it (so long as no objects are knocked over in the process).
It isn’t specific to dogs, either! You can see rabbits, horses, cats, birds, pigs, and even wild animals display this action. Here is one adorable video of horses with a serious case of the zoomies, just to brighten your day:
Many dogs can’t help themselves when it’s time to go to bed, and they just have to let out their feelings in this intense period of chaos. It leaves us wondering, why right now? And how can we stop it?
Reason 1: They’re Understimulated (& Need More Exercise)
While all breeds will want to be track stars, some may have more reason to be “zoomified” than others. If you have a large breed dog, they will typically require more daily exercise than smaller breeds to feel fulfilled.
You may let your dog run around in the yard or take him on a walk around the neighborhood, which is great! Every dog needs time for fun and exercise, but sometimes they just need more. And there are plenty of dogs that still get zoomies after their walks, so you’re not alone!
But if your pup is left inside all day while you work or the amount of activity you provide doesn’t tire them out, you may be dealing with a consistent case of FRAPs.
This will be especially common right before bedtime, as your pup realizes he’s got a lot left in the tank to burn before he sleeps!
Dogs also desire certain levels of mental stimulation, just like humans! Anytime I complete a puzzle or read a book, I always feel calm, completed, and a bit tired afterward: a nap sounds nice!
This is considered central fatigue, and can actually make you feel physically exhausted as well! Our pets experience the same thing after a good brain workout, which is excellent news for us when it comes time to sleep for the night.
However, if they are lacking the stimulation they need for their brain to feel fatigued, then they won’t feel physically tired either and won’t want to go to bed yet. Your pup will feel it is necessary to expel that boredom and energy before they lay down to sleep, otherwise, it will be a restless night for them!
So, lack of mental stimulation is another very possible reason your pup becomes a lunatic before he jumps into his bed! Luckily, this is a simple fix, which we will talk about below.
Reason 2: They Have To Pee
Nobody wants to go to bed with a full bladder. I can’t even try to go to sleep if my bladder is asking for the toilet! Dogs are the same way, and if they have to go, they’ll let you know by frantically sprinting around your home.
Some pups may also bark at you, sniff and walk in circles, run over to the door and scratch until you get the hint, or sit at your feet and give you those “pee-pee” eyes. Every dog is different in the way they express themselves, but you probably already know your individual pup’s bathroom signals. And if his signal is the zoomies, then it can be a rather tiresome experience for you. After all, bedtime should be calm because we’re tired!
Even if you’re exhausted and ready to pass out in bed, notice what your dog is doing. An adult dog on average can hold their bladder for 6-8 hours, though their age (among other factors) can change the frequency your dog has to relieve himself. Keep track of the time, and you’ll see that your pup might be due for a bathroom break.
If your dog turns turbo mode when you get him ready for bed, he’s probably trying to get your attention- his bladder needs attending to!
This isn’t uncommon behavior if turning to zoomies has worked to let him pee in the past. He is likely to do it again, and the next thing you know, you’re stuck with a pooch who zooms around before bed, all because the guy’s just really gotta go.
Reason 3: They’re Extremely Tired
It might sound counterintuitive, but is your dog overtired?
Being active is a good thing for your dog, but sometimes too much mental and physical stimulation can create a hyperactive dog that is just extremely tired.
Dogs then resort to zoomies because they can’t actually understand this sensation of being overtired!
We witness this in toddlers too, as they’ll throw a fit when it gets close to nap time because they’ve been awake too long. They struggle to perceive their environment and in turn have this overload of emotion. With no words to express their feelings, they cry and scream instead until put down for a nap.
Maybe they’re not crying or screaming, but your pup will definitely dart around like a psycho, trying to make sense of this confusing world when all he really needs is some sleep. Experts have even documented this, with dogs losing their self-control as they grow increasingly tired.
While this is seen more in puppies, don’t discount your adult falling prey to this too!
Reason 4: Separation Anxiety
Once you tell your pooch it’s officially bedtime, you probably see their zoomies ensue, leaving you wondering what’s really going on inside his head.
Well, your pooch could be suffering from a severe problem known as separation anxiety, freaking out the moment you mention bedtime because he doesn’t want to be apart from you.
Frantic, high-energy activity from your pooch could be a result of displacement behavior. This usually happens out of frustration or conflict, and it is important to understand how it works. Your dog might not like something (being away from you during the night) but is being told to do it (and they want to please you). This creates a terrible feeling for your dog because they don’t know which action to do!
Either using zoomies as a way to channel and expel their nervousness, or trying to grab your attention to make you hang out with them longer, both situations are from their separation anxiety and need to be addressed promptly.
Reason 5: You’re Reinforcing Their Behavior
Maybe it’s a grab for some attention!
Dogs have been overcome by zoomies at least one time in their life. Whatever the reason might’ve been, it’s likely they saw your positive reaction and started associating this commotion with praise. As we know, all it takes is a few positive experiences for a dog to continue that behavior: a method of learning known as operant conditioning!
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying this spectacle, and encouraging it can make your dog even happier- if that’s even possible!
Though now that your dog loves the attention that his frapping gives him, you’ll probably start seeing this behavior right before bed. Just wanting attention is probably the best reason your pooch could have for putting on a show!
Why Does My Puppy Have The Zoomies Before Bed?
If you’ve recently brought home a new puppy, then you’ve seen your fluffy friend snoozing only to wake up in a fit of passion. Nibbling at your toes, chewing through every single toy, sprinting around the furniture like he’s on an obstacle course.
Puppies are crazy and have a wild amount of energy when they aren’t sleeping. Many puppy owners know the “witching hours”, which are usually around 7 am and 7 pm each day. Their intensity is heightened, leaving them to either destroy or play with everything in their path.
The reasons your puppy has the zoomies before bed is actually similar to adult dogs: being overtired, having to pee, being anxious, or still having energy left over from the day.
When looking at more specific to puppies, they could be frapping before bed because they haven’t learned how to redirect their energy and/or aren’t crate-trained!
Training your puppy is essential to helping him become the best dog out there… and to get him to stop going crazy mode when it’s bedtime.
Teaching a puppy to calm down is no easy task! Luckily, there’s an article that goes into depth on what to expect during each puppy stage and things you can do to shift their ferocious energy into positive habits. Also, training them in obedience commands early on will help your pup learn to behave. The commands “calm” and “go in bed” can come in handy when you’re trying to ease the craziness for an efficient bedtime routine. Here’s a great video that shows you the process of teaching “go to bed” and “lay down” (and can even help during mealtime):
How Can I Stop The Zoomies Before Bed?
You may be starting to get irritated by your pup having immense energy when all you want him to do is go to sleep so you can too! There are a few ways you can lessen the chances of witnessing zoomies before bed, so let’s talk about them.
Give Your Dog Plenty Of Exercise Throughout The Day
It is important for you to give your dog the correct amount of exercise every day so he can let off any tension and excitement as well as maintain a healthy body. If you are unsure about your specific breed and its requirements, speaking with your veterinarian is a great option. They can help you determine exactly how much exercise your specific pup should get each day based on its breed!
Consider lengthening your walks, playing fetch a few more times, or staying at the dog park for a little longer. You can find new ways to entertain and exercise your pup too, such as offering a kiddy pool for some waterpark action! Afterward, your dog will thank you as he’ll have fulfilled his daily exercise needs.
If you have a fully exerted pup, then your chances of dealing with zoomies before bed are going to decrease. They will be tired and actually ready to sleep when you want them to!
Establish A Routine (Including Potty Breaks)
Things are typically smoother when you have a set routine that is followed each day, especially when there’s a dog in the household. Every dog parent knows how manic dog care can be!
Part of establishing a routine for your dog is scheduling bathroom breaks. Much like we might use the restroom and brush our teeth before bed, a dog also benefits from a kind of regimen. Your pup’s last wee-time should be before bed, giving him the opportunity to deal with any matters outside (and not in your living room). This can help eliminate the zoomies if your dog or puppy is doing it for this reason.
If you are looking to make a new plan to help your dog release his zoomies well before it’s time for bed, consider this daily schedule that will ensure your dog is satisfied each day, and adjust it to best fit your lifestyle!
Offer A Distraction
If you’re stuck in a nightly cycle of annoyance while your dog does his glee run before bed, then try offering a distraction to stop the behavior.
This could be something you can leave with him to chew on throughout the night, like his favorite rope, a chew toy filled with treats, or even a puzzle toy. You’re not only giving him extra activities for some mental stimulation but also eliminating his desire for bedtime frapping!
Remember, don’t encourage the behavior! He will keep wanting to zoom around every night, but providing a positive distraction will transfer his excitement to a more appropriate action instead.
Should I Worry About Zoomies?
You should rarely worry about your dog frapping around before bed. It’s a common behavior for dogs of all ages and a great way for them to expend their energy, giving you a moment of joy!
Ok, while zoomies before bed aren’t exactly a joyful experience if it happens night after night, it is still no cause for concern. There are a few harmless reasons your pup might be showing off to you, and sometimes your pup might have a combination of them. It is an easy fix once you understand why they are sprinting like a psycho.
The time for concern is if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety and manifesting his nervousness through frapping. It is important to see a veterinarian if you think your dog is dealing with anxiety as it can have harmful effects on their overall well-being.
Ultimately, finding the cause of zoomies before bed will help you determine your concern levels and form a plan to make them quiet down.
Zoomies, or FRAPs, is a happy moment for both your pup and you! While it may be entertaining after a bath, it may get frustrating if your pup has picked up the habit of frapping before bed, after eating, or some other less-than-ideal time.
Consider what could be the reason for these late-night energy fits, whether it be that they need more mental and physical stimulation, they have to pee, they’re overtired, you’re reinforcing their behavior, or they have separation anxiety. It may be a mix of reasons too!
Puppies will have the zoomies more frequently than adults, and that is okay! They might not understand bedtime yet, so it’s best to train them how to go to their bed and lay down for the night. Crate training is a great tool to establish acceptable behaviors and a healthy routine for your pup.
Once you have an idea of where this frenetic energy is coming from, you can try different solutions. Make sure that the cause is not as serious as separation anxiety, and with patience and consistency, the madness will stop!
Going to bed will soon be a breeze.