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If you are a dog owner, then it’s highly likely you have experienced one of the more entertaining antics our furry friends exhibit from time to time – a sudden burst of energy, like someone snuck in and slipped your pup a Red Bull when you weren’t looking.
They’re suddenly possessed and overcome with the need to run laps in what seems to be their best impersonation of a cheetah.
The zoomies, as this has been colloquially referred to amongst dog lovers, can be quite entertaining for us pet parents, though it can be a bit dangerous for any fragile breakables you have in the nearby vicinity!
Many initially believe that these bursts are a way for our dogs to burn off pent-up energy; but if that is the case, why do some dogs get zoomies after a walk?
If your dog goes crazy after a walk, they’re most likely showing you just how excited they are! Experts agree that while it’s possible your dog may need more exercise, the zoomies are almost always an expression of excitement and joy even if it occurs after a walk.
Let’s go ahead and take a deeper look at what’s got our dogs sprinting around!
What Are Zoomies?
Before we jump into why your dog might be channeling the Flash, let’s get on the same page about what zoomies really are in the first place! Zoomies are actually the cutesy term for what experts refer to as FRAP – or a Frenetic Random Activity Period, and it has been recorded in dogs of all ages, breeds, and backgrounds.
It’s not just dogs, either; cats, rabbits, goats, horses, and even elephants have been documented as experiencing zoomies! These periods are characterized by the animal experiencing what can only be described as an intense burst of energy.
In the case of our dogs, this often looks like “zooming” back and forth through a space like a possessed ping pong ball, bouncing off the couch, running laps, messing up the bed, grabbing toys, and maybe even chasing their tail for good measure. Shortly after, they’ll typically flop onto the floor panting, seemingly having exhausted themselves. For first time dog owners, it can definitely look like a weird behavior.
If you’re not completely sure what you’re seeing is the zoomies, you’re in luck. There are hundreds of zoomie compilations out there for reference, such as this fun collection!
As we can see with dogs such as the one in the video here, post-walk zoomies are a regular part of their day to day!
Reason 1: They Still Have Energy to Burn
Something to keep in mind is that not all dogs are built the same in terms of how much exercise they need. Age can certainly play a factor in your dogs’ energy levels, so this is a good place to start when taking potential zoomie tendencies into account. A puppy or younger dog is typically going to have far more energy to burn off than a more senior dog will.
In addition to a dog’s age, their breed heavily influences this as well. Pugs and many other bully breeds certainly aren’t going to be as demanding when it comes to exercise as, say, a husky or an Australian shepherd.
If you aren’t exactly sure what unique mix of awesome your dog is, you can always ask your veterinarian for a physical evaluation that can help them assess what type of exercise may be best for your pup based on their body type, current overall physical condition, weight, and age.
With that taken into consideration, you may need to reevaluate your walking routine and see if you’re actually giving your dog enough of a chance to truly burn out their energy reserves.
Think about what qualifies as a good walk by your standards. If you’re only taking a high-energy breed of dog out for a short 15-minute stroll, that could be the reason you’re seeing the zoomies as soon as you return. Your walk basically just acted as a warmup for the main event!
Reason 2: They’re Expressing Excitement!
Dog behaviorists seem to be in agreement that most of the time, zoomies are a happy display of excitement. Dog owners know better than anyone that dogs just want to have fun. Their enthusiasm for life and for engaging with the world around them are some of the things we love most about them.
On top of their general zest for being alive, dogs’ sharper senses make what appears to us as just an ordinary neighborhood sidewalk, appear to them as a thrilling smorgasbord of new sights, smells, and sounds.
It’s like a carnival out there for them! After taking in all of the sensory delights and new encounters a walk can offer, some dogs just can’t help but zoom around with glee.
In this case, it isn’t necessarily that your dog is suffering from an underwhelming exercise routine; it’s more like they’re putting on their version of a grand finale, metaphorical fireworks and all.
This becomes even more apparent when other common zoomie “triggers” in dogs are considered; when owners return from work, play sessions, or anything the dog might consider particularly exciting – like a favorite toy, friend, or treat!
As clearly depicted by this adorable Wheaten terrier, sometimes dogs just have to let out their glee when you return from your stroll – even if the walk was adequate exercise.
It Most Likely Isn’t Frustration Or Stress
While many owners find the zoomies an endearing or even hilarious action, some owners worry that it may point to stress or be an expression of frustration in their pet.
While experts indicate that excessive, constant FRAPs may point to behavioral issues, they also agree that zoomies are most often perfectly harmless, happy moments we can share with our dogs.
Experts and respected dog behaviorists agree that in addition to there being little data to suggest otherwise, dogs do really seem to be having fun while zooming – otherwise they most likely wouldn’t be doing it!
Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Getting Zoomies After Their Walk?
Experts strongly believe that more times than not, zoomies are a normal and typically positive display of excitement in our dogs. They also stress that there is still much research to be done on FRAPing, so ultimately the judgment call will need to involve assessment by the owner. You know your dog and your situation the best.
Pay attention to other times, if any, that your dog gets the zoomies. Generally, owners find that their dogs get them in moments of happiness and excitement; if you’re noticing the same general behavior and body language from your dog’s post-walk zoomies, it’s likely they’re just having a good time!
What Should I Do If I Think My Dog’s Zoomies Aren’t The Happy Kind?
If you are noticing a sudden increase in the amount of zoomies your dog is displaying, or their body language and expression appear different from their “happy” zooms, they may be using this behavior as a way to combat stress.
Ask yourself if anything in your dog’s life has changed recently – any new people, places, things, or routines? Work with your dog to isolate what you believe the culprit may be, then reevaluate your dog’s behavior when you’ve either removed the stressor or they’ve had more time to adapt to whatever your new situation may be.
If you suspect your dog’s zoomies may be caused by not fulfilling their exercise needs, some experimentation on your behalf may need to be conducted. Whenever possible, try carving out time to take longer walks with your pup, or try walking them multiple times a day if you can.
If you notice a decrease in the zoomies following these changes, then it may very well be that they needed more physical activity in their life. Keep getting those steps in!
Ultimately, figuring out whether your dog is expressing a need for more exercise, or is just filled to the brim with excitement they simply must let out, will rely on some expert knowledge from the one person who knows your dog better than anyone: you.
If you’re still unsure of the cause of your dog’s post-walk zoomies, but you just can’t shake the feeling that this behavior is due to an underlying issue, remember that there are professionals you can reach out to for help.
Veterinarians can help rule out any medical concerns that may have your friend acting strangely after walks, and dog behaviorists may have some insights into your pet’s mind that you hadn’t considered.
Scientifically referred to as FRAPs, or frenetic random activity periods, this phenomenon is one that researchers have yet to truly delve into. While the behavior may seem out of place after undergoing physical activity like a walk, it turns out there definitely are reasons our dogs may start zipping around once we return from one!
Whether your dog is expressing a need for more exercise, or is just filled to the brim with excitement they simply must let out, will rely on some expert knowledge from the one person who knows your dog better than anyone: you.
Take into consideration your dog’s age, breed, history, and your own unique life situations to start honing in on what the cause may be. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional such as your veterinarian or a dog behaviorist if you still have doubts! Especially if zoomies start to interrupt your daily routine by happening at even less than ideal times like before bed!
The wide eyes, silly facial expressions, and sheer joy often expressed in these energy bursts make it ridiculously hard not to crack a smile. In the likely event your dog is having a blast, all you really need to do is make sure you move out of the way!