7 Zoomies Triggers That Can Send Your Dog Into Overdrive

Published March 6, 2023
Boy and dog running in the meadow

All dogs love to run around and play. But if you've seen your dog go into hyper-drive, you know what it's like when your dog gets the zoomies. Regular running around and excitement are one thing. When your dog goes completely off the rails, and dashes around in a lightning-fast panic - sometimes seemingly for no reason - those are the zoomies. It can be pretty funny to watch, but it can also be frustrating if you're trying to get something done and your dog won't calm down.

Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies in the First Place?

The zoomies are just one of many ways dogs express their emotions. Dogs may get excited and wag their tails when they see their owners or bark and run around in circles when they're happy. Some dogs will get the zoomies after playing with another dog or human, while others may get them when they're excited about going out for a walk or seeing a visitor at home. Some dogs even get the zoomies while relaxing on the couch!

Most of the time, when we talk about zoomies, we're talking about dogs who are way over-excited. The zoomies are an explosion of energy that often appears to be random. There are two conditions necessary for zoomies. First, dogs must have pent-up energy. Second, they need a trigger. Dogs with the zoomies aren't just running around because they saw you get their leash. They're on a mad dash all over your house, on the furniture, and through anything in their way. This probably means:

  • They need exercise. Every dog requires physical exercise every day. Running around and getting their heart rate up helps them stay healthy and fit. If they aren't exercising, dogs are building pent-up energy, and when they get the zoomies, you see it come out all at once.
  • Your dog is bored. It's important to give your dog plenty of mental stimulation too! Just like humans, dogs need something interesting going on in order to keep themselves entertained. When your dog's boredom hits critical mass, zoomies can result.
  • They're over-excited. Normal excitement is one thing. Zoomies are usually on a whole other level. If your pup is suddenly flying around at the drop of the hat, they're past the point of regular excitement, into the realm of zoomie energy.

Biologically speaking, zoomies are caused by endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that your dog's body produces when they're excited or under stress. They make your dog feel good. If your dog has enough pent-up energy and they get that endorphin rush, the zoomies are probably coming next.

7 Common Zoomies Triggers

Specific things probably send your dog on a zoomies rush. Every dog is different. Some have a high tolerance for stimulation. Others are just waiting to fly into a zoomie frenzy.

  • Someone just came home. If you or a family member just walked in, this might trigger your dog's zoomies. Dogs who have separation anxiety can be especially sensitive when someone arrives home.
  • It's a certain time of day. Some dogs get morning and evening zoomies. Nighttime might be your dog's trigger. This might be because they're anticipating something that normally happens at a specific time.
  • They're feeling stress or anxiety. Maybe their trigger is bath time. Some dogs fly into zoomies after a bath. Maybe someone walking by outside sets them off. For whatever reason, something is setting your dog off.
  • They're in a new place. When you visit the dog park with your dog, or you take them somewhere they've never been before, your dog might be overcome with excitement.
  • They want food, or they just ate. Many dogs get the zoomies right before or after a meal. They want to eat, or they're still excited about what they just ate.
  • They just went poop. It sounds strange, but for some dogs, the zoomies come right after they relieve themselves. This could be because they're relieved, or finally ready to move.
  • They're anticipating something exciting. Maybe you just woke up. They might get zoomies before or after a walk. If you grab a leash, your dog might freak out and go into zoom mode.

Remember, these are just possible triggers. The other condition your dog requires to get the zoomies is pent-up energy. If you are exercising your dog and offering enough mental stimulation, you will likely see your dog's zoomies episodes less often.

Are Zoomies Dogs Happy?

Sometimes, yes, dogs who are in zoom-mode are happy. Or, at least they are excited. Often, they are releasing their pent up energy because they're feeling positive emotions. It just depends on what triggered a dog's zoomies.

If your dog is zooming because they're feeling stress or anxiety, they probably aren't happy. Watch for signs your dog is stressed out. Figure out what's setting them off if you're worried your dog isn't happy while they have the zoomies.

Should You Worry About the Zoomies?

Normally, you don't need to be too concerned about your dog's zoomies. This is normal behavior, and in most cases, the outburst of energy will go away on its own. Zoomies episodes can be quite funny, too. Take it as a chance to get some exercise with your dog, play with them, and work to calm them down, and your dog's zoomies should take care of themselves.

Helpful Hack

Even dogs who get out for daily exercise can get the zoomies. If your dog comes from a very intelligent breed, try some mentally stimulating enrichment for relief.

If It Gets to Be Too Much

The zoomies aren't dangerous or harmful to your pet, but they can be a real inconvenience when they strike unexpectedly. Here are some tips on how to deal with this common behavior problem:

  • Don't punish them. Your dog won't understand why you're upset. If you yell or get angry, you could even be reinforcing the zoomies by accident if your dog was looking for attention in the first place.
  • Ignore the behavior. If your dog starts getting the zoomies, just ignore the behavior and wait until it stops on its own. Don't reinforce their energy dump with attention.
  • Provide a distraction. If your dog starts getting the zoomies in the middle of a walk or mealtime, give them something else to focus on. Try not to treat them here, as you could reinforce the zoomies. Instead, begin a light training session - sans rewards.
  • Find their trigger. Figure out what's setting them off. If it's something specific, you might be able to keep that thing from stressing your dog out. Watch your dog to see what might be setting them off.
  • Address the underlying cause. If your dog regularly gets the zoomies, they probably need more attention, exercise, and mental stimulation. Wait until they calm down, and then get them out for some work and play.

Some Breeds are Prone to Zoomies

Not all dog breeds are likely to get the zoomies. Some high-energy breeds, such as Border Collies and Huskies, have been known to have a higher incidence of this condition than others. These are working breeds, developed to perform a task or job. Many working and sporting dogs need a lot of activity, so plan to build this into your daily routine if you have a high-energy, intelligent breed of dog.

Border collies running

Your Dog's Having Fun

The zoomies are often pretty funny. They can happen at any time and for no apparent reason, and most of the time they're nothing to worry about. If you see your dog dart across the lawn all of a sudden or start spinning in circles, as long as they're in a safe environment, sit back and enjoy the craziness. If it becomes a problem, find a way to distract them and look for ways to add in some extra exercise each day. The old adage, "A tired dog is a happy dog," is one to live by.

7 Zoomies Triggers That Can Send Your Dog Into Overdrive