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Dogs of any size, from tiny Chihuahuas to giant Great Danes, can get the zoomies. Zoomies can present in many ways depending on your dog and their unique personality.
Usually what begins with an enthusiastic play bow, zooming dogs might rambunctiously run circles around the yard, and others use furniture as a part of an impromptu obstacle course, or destroy things like their bed.
Once they get the zoomies, dogs seem to lose their sense of awareness and not much can stop them until they burn off that excitement and energy. That could include knocking over furniture, tearing up toys, or trying to engage their owner or other pets.
When dogs try to engage their owner to join their zoomies, it might seem like aggressive behavior, especially if they are pushy, growling, or biting you.
So why does your dog get aggressive zoomies?
While zoomies are not considered aggressive behavior, some dogs or puppies might growl or nip while releasing pent-up energy. But, it is a natural way for your dog to blow off steam. Dogs and puppies tend to disregard things in their way when zooming and have to be managed if they start zooming aggressively.
So if your dog or puppy is not intentionally being aggressive when they get the zoomies, then why do they look aggressive? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your dog might growl, nip, bite, or become pushy with you when they get the zoomies, and what you can do to alter their behavior for the safety of you and your dog.
What Exactly Are Zoomies?
Zoomies, or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), is quite literally an explosion of pent-up energy characterized by “frantic, repetitive behavior.” The behavior itself can vary from dog to dog but usually involves running in circles and maybe jumping on and off things.
Many times you can predict your dog’s zoomies because they happen at the same time of day or before or after certain events. Some dogs get the zoomies after they eat because they are so excited about having their meal. Or if a dog has not gotten enough exercise during the day, they might like to release pent-up energy before bed.
An observant owner can start to recognize a pattern and be able to predict when their dog is going to get the zoomies. For example, I have a dog that always gets major zoomies as soon as we get home after a long car ride! This dog does not get aggressive with me, but he likes to engage my other dogs by jumping on them and growling.
Why Do Dogs Bite During The Zoomies?
Now that we have scientifically established what zoomies are and that it is normal dog behavior, we can acknowledge that sometimes zoomies can get out of control. Check out the dog in this video!
Things can be knocked over, or they might try to bite us or other pets during their FRAPs.
However, biting during zoomies does not necessarily mean your dog is aggressive. They might have temporarily forgotten bite inhibition.
Check your dog’s body language. If they are truly aggressive they will have a stiff body and raised hackles, but if they are acting playful their body will be relaxed.
However, though we know zoomies are normal behavior, we do not want to engage or encourage our dogs when they are having aggressive zoomies. Especially if they are biting. Depending on how strong a dog’s bite force is, it can hurt even if they are simply trying to play during aggressive zoomies. So what exactly causes our dogs to bite and have aggressive zoomies?
Reason 1: It Is Natural Behavior
Zoomies are a natural behavior and every dog has their style. It is usually not a behavior to worry about, but some dogs might get… too into it. This includes barking, growling, or maybe even biting you. If this is the case, you certainly do not want your dog to continue the behavior as it is no longer safe for you or your dog.
However, your dog is probably not biting on purpose during aggressive zoomies. Chewing, biting, and licking are natural exploratory and play behaviors for dogs. Sometimes dogs are so out of their mind playing and zooming they simply have no regard for objects that might be in their way. This includes crashing into, or maybe biting you, toys, or other dogs.
Reason 2: Your Dog Needs More Mental Stimulation Or Exercise
Owning a dog is a big responsibility and there is a lot more to taking care of them than only feeding and walking them. Most dogs, especially puppies, young dogs, and high-energy dogs, require mental stimulation and exercise or they might act out.
There are some obvious signs that your dog is not getting enough exercise or mental stimulation. These include destructive behavior like getting into the trash, or hyperactivity at night, such as aggressive zoomies when you are ready to settle down.
Your dog is more likely to get aggressive zoomies or bite during zoomies if they have extra energy. Remember, zoomies, or FRAPs is your dog’s way of releasing pent-up energy. If they have too much pent-up energy, they might be more likely to bite during the zoomies.
Reason 3: Your Dog Is Stressed
Zoomies are not only a way to relieve pent-up energy, but also pent-up stress. Since dogs tend to relieve their stress by reverting to natural behaviors such as humping, they might also start zooming. Biting, either play-biting or otherwise, is also a natural behavior, so stressed dogs might start to get mouthy during the zoomies.
People who are involved in dog sports often see this. Agility competitors might feel like they have lost control of their dogs when they get mad zoomies at their first-ever competition, but your dog is trying to shake off stress like the greyhound in the video.
Other signs that your dog is stressed include panting, whale eyes, yawning, lip licking, and shaking. Remember to be an advocate for your and take them to a safe place if you feel like they are overwhelmed.
Reason 4: Your Dog’s Breed
Certain breeds might be more likely to bite when they have aggressive zoomies. This is because they have a history of using their mouth for things like herding and retrieving. While some of these dogs try to gently hold your arm in their mouth, others might take it to another level and bite or seem aggressive during zoomies.
Herding dogs already have the natural urge to nip since this is how they move livestock. A common behavior problem for herding dogs, especially if they do not have a flock to herd, is to channel that energy into herding their family, including children, adults, and other animals like dogs and cats. When your herding dog is wild with zoomies, that natural nipping behavior can be amplified and they could start biting.
Herding breeds are not the only dogs known for being mouthy. Hunting dogs were also bred to use their mouth for carrying and retrieving things. When your hunting breed dog gets the zoomies, do they get too mouthy? Even dogs known as wonderful family dogs like Golden Retrievers can bite during zoomies, but they are probably not trying to be aggressive.
Why Does My Puppy Get The Aggressive Zoomies?
Your brand-new puppy is still learning about the world. This includes learning potty training, crate training, and boundaries around the house and with their new family. These boundaries include not jumping, being aggressive, or biting you. Of course, these behaviors are probably worse during zoomies.
And puppies in particular might seem like they have more aggressive zoomies than adult dogs.
However, do not worry, your puppy will get easier! They just have a lot of growing up to do. Your puppy is likely getting aggressive zoomies for the same reason that adult dogs get aggressive zoomies. It is a natural behavior, particularly if they are a breed known for mouthiness, they are stressed, or they have too much energy. However, they are still learning to control their bodies and have a lot more pent-up energy being a young puppy.
Puppies are still growing and developing and it is never too early to start training them impulse control. Learning impulse control will help them become less aggressive during the zoomies.
Why Do Puppies Bite During The Zoomies?
Puppies are more likely to bite during aggressive zoomies simply because they are still learning boundaries and impulse control.
However, they might not be biting during zoomies because they have lost their little minds out of excitement. There is another reason your puppy might suddenly be misbehaving.
Your young puppy’s mouth could be hurting from teething. Puppies’ adult teeth come in around 6 months old, but until then they can have some pretty serious pain from losing their baby teeth and the pressure of new teeth coming in.
Your puppy could redirect their teething biting onto you during zoomies if not given proper puppy-safe chew toys. This video shows some fun ways to help ease your puppy’s teething pain without using you as a teething toy.
How To Stop Your Dog Biting During Zoomies
Zoomies are not an inherently bad behavior. It is a natural part of dog behavior, whether it is a part of their routine to do some quick zoomies after a walk or they have not had enough exercise so they have extra pent-up energy. Some people might find zoomies hilarious and it can be fun watching your dog zoom around the yard until they collapse in happy exhaustion.
Aggressive zoomies are not fun though. Especially if your dog becomes becomes destructive, growls, or bites during the zoomies. Let’s look at a few ways to discourage your dog from biting during aggressive zoomies so you can still enjoy each other’s company without your possessions breaking or you getting bruises.
Since zoomies are a way to release pent-up energy, your dog might need a longer walk. Take a look at the amount of exercise your dog is getting if their zoomies are becoming aggressive and they are biting.
Most dogs enjoy a walk, but beware that certain breeds might need more exercise than others. For example, German Shepherds are considered high-energy working breeds that love to go on hikes and runs. They are also a breed known for herding and bite work, so biting during zoomies might be more prevalent in this breed.
Bulldogs are lower-energy dogs, and while they still like a walk, their exercise needs are not as demanding as a German Shepherd.
For those going on your first adventures with your puppy, remember that you can exercise them too much. Puppies’ joints are still growing, and while exercise is healthy for their bodies, too much can be demanding on their developing bodies.
Has your dog had enough exercise but keeps biting during aggressive zoomies? They might be bored and need more mental stimulation. It is never too late to train your dog and there are a lot of fun training games you can play with them, from silly tricks to sports like agility. You would be surprised at the breeds of dogs that excel at agility!
Training and mental stimulation should not feel like a regimented chore. Take a minute to train your dog to roll over while your coffee is brewing or play hide-and-seek during the commercial break of your favorite show.
Mental stimulation does not need to be active training. There are lots of puzzle feeders you can purchase to help enrich your dog mentally. This Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is using one of their favorite in the video.
You do not have to spend a lot of money to enrich your dog’s meal. Simply roll their dinner tightly in a towel or hide it in some cardboard boxes and let them figure out how to access their kibble. You might be surprised at how much this will fry their brains and hopefully eliminate the aggressive zoomies.
You can also upgrade your training routine by teaching more tricks. There are plenty of YouTube videos that go over this but if you’re interested in getting everything you need in one place then check out our review Dr. Ian Dunbar’s online dog training program.
Ignore And Redirect
Sometimes engaging with or trying to stop your dog’s aggressive zoomies can unintentionally reinforce the behavior. Aggressive zoomies with biting can be frustrating, but negative reinforcers can teach your dog to continue, especially if they are bored and want your attention.
So instead of engaging your dog when they bite and get the aggressive zoomies, ignore or redirect them.
Redirection, or as Victoria Stilwell says “Redirecting focus from a negative or unwanted reaction” is a wonderful tool for managing unwanted dog behavior like biting during aggressive zoomies. When your dog begins to run towards you to bite or nip, encourage them to chase or tug a toy instead. This will help condition them to direct their pent-up energy on a toy instead of you.
If redirection fails, then disengage and ignore. Remove yourself so they cannot bite you.
Kikopup’s “Go To Your Bed” video will give you a helpful tool to help your dog learn impulse control and self-regulation.
Some dogs love the zoomies. It is a natural behavior to have a zoom session before settling down for the day. However, we do not want our dogs to rage when they are zooming. Growling, biting, and zooming destructively can be stressful for an owner, and scary if your dog is taking that pent-up energy on you.
While your dog’s zoomies are a natural experience, there are reasons your dog might specifically get aggressive zoomies. Dogs who have issues with aggressive zoomies might be bored, under-exercised, or stressed. Plus your dog might be more likely to bite during the zoomies if they are a breed known to be particularly mouthy or nippy. The best thing is to redirect and ignore to condition your dog to stop biting.
Furthermore, if you have a puppy they might be trying to relieve the pain from teething. Try giving your puppy some appropriate teething toys to help ease that pain. It is hard to snuggle your new best friend when they are zooming and biting!
Remember, the perfect dog does not happen overnight, and you do not have to try to be alpha with your dog to train them to not bite during aggressive zoomies. It is work to find the perfect balance of exercise, and mental stimulation, as well as training impulse control and redirection, but in the end, you will have a beautiful relationship with your dog built on trust.