By Abby Huxtable

Zoomies or, to use their official term, Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs) are well known to most puppy and dog owners.

The official term actually describes them really well – random, frantic activity periods. These periods usually occur after walks, sometimes after meals, and on an evening. They are really common in puppies, as adult dogs often outgrow them, although you do still see the occasional zoomies from adults too.

Not much is scientifically known about zoomies. There have been very few studies on them, so we are unsure what causes them or why they occur. Logically, it is an outlet for excess energy. Marc Berkoff, an American Biologist and Behavioural Ecologist, has written a little on the subject, as have many Dog Trainers/Behaviourists, but no formal studies have been conducted.

The excess energy theory fits with zoomies occurring after walks and on an evening. We restrict our puppy’s exercise levels to protect their joints. Walks are also exciting and a bit scary for many puppies, with lots of new sights, smells and sounds each time. Therefore, they have a build-up of energy, which comes out once they get home and are off their leads.

Similarly, the evening is the most common time for zoomies and is the outlet for excess energy left over from the day’s activities before they settle down to sleep.

Zoomies take many forms, from running, shaking, and tugging toys, digging, biting at their owners or other animal companions, and humping, just to name a few. They basically consist of whatever activity your dog finds enjoyable as an outlet for energy!

If their chosen outlet is safe for them, you and other residents of your household can simply enjoy the fun. Let them have their zoomies to release their energy, then they will settle and sleep. They may need a chew, Kong, lickimat, or a scatter of food to encourage that settle towards the end of zoomie time.

If, however, the zoomies are dangerous to our dogs or take an unwanted form (usually biting), then we need to channel that energy into other outlets.

This could be simple redirection to a safer area. So, you could let them zoom in the garden rather than the house or cue them to dig a pile of old blankets or their own bed instead of your sofa.

It could also involve setting up activities to have ready for them when you get home from your walk or during their regular zoomie time.

Many enrichment activities can be used for this as they use that energy in mental instead of physical activity and often combine the two.

You could also have a small training or play session with your dog to channel that energy into something more constructive. Do be aware that in zoomie mode, your dog will find it very difficult to listen to you and concentrate, so keep skills simple or engage that energy and attention before they hit full zoomie mode!

As our dogs mature and manage their energy levels better, and the world becomes less exciting and scary and more ‘normal’ to them, zoomies will naturally reduce in frequency. Some dogs lose their zoom totally and some still have occasional, shorter ones. Teaching them how to channel that energy at an early age, will ensure their zoomies are safe and fun for you all, however long they last.