You're having a nice, quiet evening at home with your dog resting peacefully at your feet — until it suddenly jumps up, does a few quick chase-his-tail circles and runs through the house at top speed.
This energy release may seem like it comes out of nowhere, but to your dog it's perfectly timed. Commonly known as "turbo mode," "crazy racing," and especially "the zoomies" all over the internet, this kind of running and playing activity is a necessary way for your dog to release energy. And, while it's more common in puppies and young dogs, even oldsters will get in on the action when a puppy's around.
Veterinarians call these outbursts Frenetic Random Activity Periods, or FRAPs for short. While they are part-and-parcel of dog life, FRAPs can cause some consternation for people. One of the best ways to help a dog is by building FRAP time into their daily schedule. Go to a dog park or plan some play time in a fenced backyard. Play time off-leash, if possible, gives your dog room to roam, but if it must stay tethered, add some speed to the walk by jogging or riding a bicycle alongside the dog.
You can also learn to watch for pre-zoomie behavior. Often, a dog will leap up, and bow with its front legs down and tail furiously waggling as an invitation to play. Conversely, you can
mimic this bow as a signal for the zoomie fun to begin. The idea is not to eliminate your dog's ability to release energy, but to channel it.
If the zoomies happen indoors, you can either let the outburst run its course or teach a puppy that indoor zoomies aren't really your thing. When the FRAP starts, put the dog in a crate for a 1- to 2-minute timeout. You can also put light pressure on a dog's shoulder blades as a calming technique —keep your hands firmly but gently in place as the dog sinks calmly to the floor.
Keep in mind that playing along or chasing your dog during a zoomie, especially one that's taking place in your home, might lead to some unwelcome events, like broken lamps or scratched wood floors. And certain breeds may be more susceptible to zoomies, like high-energy terriers or greyhounds that love to run.
Most FRAP behavior will run its course as your dog matures, so in the meantime, enjoy the show!