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Just when you think your puppy should be settling down for the night, boom, your puppy jumps up and starts running around the house like there’s a squirrel to chase. But there’s no obvious reason for the behavior. There’s nothing ahead of them to chase and nothing behind chasing them. What’s gotten into your pup? New dog owners are often surprised and even alarmed by this strange dog behavior. But there’s nothing to be worried about. Although it seems like your puppy is hallucinating imaginary playmates, it’s just a case of the zoomies.

What Are the Zoomies?

Zoomies are also known as frapping which comes from the acronym F.R.A.P. or Frenetic Random Activity Period. And that sums them up perfectly. Your puppy will show intense and random activity for a short burst of time. Your pup might run in circles or start and stop on a dime. Play bows are often included in the display as well. This completely normal behavior is a way for your puppy to get rid of excess energy.

Because frapping releases energy, you can expect to see it when your dog is particularly excited or playful. Get that tennis ball out for a game of fetch and your puppy might start zooming all over the backyard. It will look like your puppy can’t contain their glee. At other times, a dog will get the zoomies after a stressful event, like after a bath. It’s as if they’re discharging the nervous tension that had built up. Or perhaps they’re simply delighted the event is over.

Zoomies also happen quite often at night. Especially with puppies who have been crated all day or have not been given enough opportunities to exercise. As soon as they get the chance to run around, they take it.

Even adult dogs get the zoomies, although the younger the dog the more frequently it seems to occur. Why is this such a common puppy behavior? Although puppies nap a lot, they also have huge bursts of activity each day. In general, they are more energetic than older dogs. As a dog ages and their energy level drops, the frequency of frapping usually drops too.

West Highland White Terrier puppy portrait indoors.

Are the Zoomies Safe?

You might be wondering if the zoomies are safe for your dog. There are only two concerns: obstacles and frequency. First, make sure there are no obstacles in your puppy’s path while they zoom. A fenced yard is a great place to let them get their energy out rather than a cluttered living room. Carpeted areas are safer too, so your puppy doesn’t wipe out and take a tumble. Also, make sure you keep any breakable knickknacks or delicate ornaments away from your puppy’s zooming path. If they bump a table leg, your heirlooms might go flying.

Second, watch the frequency of your puppy’s zooming. Most of the time it’s a harmless behavior that dogs appear to wholeheartedly enjoy. But if your dog is frapping all the time, you might be looking at something more serious. It could be an obsessive behavior that indicates a bigger problem. Your puppy might be dealing with a compulsive need to zoom or might be experiencing a high amount of stress. If you have any concerns about your puppy’s behavior, consult a behavior professional for help.

More likely, frequent zooming is a sign that your puppy isn’t getting enough exercise. Although puppies shouldn’t participate in strenuous exercise or activities like jumping that can damage their growing bones, puppies need physical and mental stimulation. Daily walks, playtime, and training sessions can give puppies a chance to release their energy. The more you meet your puppy’s physical and mental needs, the less they will need to frap.

How Do You Deal With the Zoomies?

Consider setting a routine for your puppy that includes time for play, time for training, and time for activity, whether that’s playing fetch in the yard or walking around the block. Be sure to get nap time in the routine too. Puppies need lots of rest spread throughout the day.

And although crates are an excellent training tool, your puppy shouldn’t be in there from dusk until dawn. If you can’t be home to let your pup out for bathroom breaks and some exercise, consider asking a neighbor or hiring a pet sitter to give your puppy some company and activity in the middle of the day. Then when your puppy goes wild at night, you can relax and enjoy the show knowing there’s nothing to worry about.

Stuck at home with a new puppy? Training your dog during COVID-19 can be difficult without access to normal training classes. That’s why we’re here to help you virtually, through AKC GoodDog! Helpline. This live telephone service connects you with a professional trainer who will offer unlimited, individualized advice on everything from house-training to behavioral issues.

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