Zoomies are frenetic random activity periods when your dog races around the place like the devil himself were after them.
When they do it at night just before bedtime, it is their way of coping with getting rid of their last stockpile of energy so that they can wind down to relax before bed.
Zoomies are distinguished by the following.
- Frantic, repetitive behaviour such as running around an object (your couch, house or yard).
- An expression of excitement on their face.
- Tongue lolling out.
- Racing at top speed, changing direction, and a happy crazy look on their faces.
Technically speaking, zoomies are called FRAPS ( Frenetic random activity periods).
It has been said that FRAPs allow an animal (cats, horses, lambs, and many other animals do it too) to relieve stress, letting that pent-up energy out.
Zoomies involve a burst of spontaneous speed – it is a joyous, fun activity.
When my golden labrador was younger, she used to do zoomies when we came home during the day or at night.
The moment our car pulled up, she would race laps around the outside of our house! We would wait patiently while she did three, four, five, or more laps with a crazy look in her eyes, before she would flop down in front of us, tongue lolling out and a huge grin on her face. It was always a huge welcome home to us.
As she got older, the zoomies decreased. By the time she was 12 years of age, the zoomies become a rare occasion. She would settle for a good tail wag and a cuddle to greet us.
Dealing With Zoomies Before Bed.
To reduce a dog’s zoomies before bed, make sure they have:
- A walk or two during the day
- The opportunity to run and play to wear off some energ?
- Look at what activities they have, make sure there are things that use some of their energy
Because if your dog has had a quiet, slow day, they may become alive and energetic just before bed.
That is the last thing you want.
Getting the excess energy out of their system, especially before bedtime, helps them to unwind and sleep through the night. So let them zoom well before they are to go to bed.
The last thing you want is a hyped-up dog at bedtime. So consider the day that your dog has had.
All these things are the sign of a dog with too much excess energy – they are not tired, they want to do something:
- They will groan, wriggle, chew toys, and move around a lot which can be disturbing if they sleep in your room.
- Their toenails ‘clicking’ along the tiled floor as they come and check that you are ok for the tenth time can drive you nuts.
- Or listening while they decide to lick themselves clean will stop you from dropping off to sleep.
- Lapping up yet another drink can wake you up from a slumber. They don’t mean to disturb you, it is just that they are not ready to sleep.
So on a slow activity day, take them out for a walk in the park or to play a game of chase after dinner has settled. If you have a late dinner, play before dinner.
Wearing your dog out of its excess energy will ensure everyone will get a good night’s sleep.
The Causes of Zoomies Before Bed.
Many things can set it off, and the time of the day doesn’t seem to be relevant. It seems to be a spur of the moment activity that gets them hyped and wanting to let off some steam, such as:
- When you arrive home, or
- Take them outside for a walk.
- After a bath
- Finish being groomed
- Being released from training or their crate
- Access to the outdoors after a snowfall
- Familiar people arriving at your home
- The sight of you reaching for their lead to go for a walk
The thing about the zoomies is that is normal behavior. Of course, zooming in an unsafe area such as near a road, or close to dangerous objects is another thing.
Normally this behavior doesn’t last long, as they wear their excess energy off and are then ready to relax.
It is hard to stop a dog who is zooming, as they will probably consider your attempts to catch them as part of a game. It usually wears off after 2-3 minutes so just be patient and let them get it out of their system.
It is a good idea to have a game or an activity that uses up their pent up energy well before bedtime. An hour or two before the bedtime deadline looms is best. Then move the activity to something calm and relaxing. Perhaps cuddling while watching a movie, or a ‘guess where the treat is’ puzzle – just calm youe dog down and get them ready to sleep.
As they get older, they tend to do zoomies less as they have less energy or their joints hurt. So enjoy them while you can, they are cute, and your dog’s excitement is contagious!
On another note, the zoomies could be the result of anxiety by your puppy.
Usually if this is the case, it often doesn’t happen at night, but rather in the day, perhaps after a visit to the vet, or having been looked after by a new person. If it happens often, mention it to your vet, they may suggest getting a behavioral expert to check your dog.
Planning Time For Your Dog to Exercise
Whether you are working away or at home, you need to plan a little time in your day to get your dog out and moving. Younger dogs are more prone to the zoomies than older pets, so plan to keep a youngster busy.
Plan the day so your dog gets the exercise they need earlier in the day so that they are not doing zoomies at night.
- Plan to get up a little bit earlier and take your dog for a good walk, or even better a run to get them active.
- Put some free time aside to spend with your pet. If you are working from home, a quick break for a 20 minutes playtime with your dog will do you and your pet a lot of good.
- After work is an ideal time while the dinner is cooking to take your dog and do a quick couple of laps around the block where you live. It will get rid of built-up stress, and the extra oxygen will refresh you both for the evening.
- If you have a deadline and can’t make time to exercise your dog, ask a friend to call by during the day and take the dog for a walk. Or you could pay a professional dog walker to take them out in the afternoon for a long walk or run to tire them out for the evening.
- You can swap favors with a friend. You could take your friend’s dog with you when you walk your dog, and they can do the same for you on another day.
- Or you can swap tasks – if they take your dog for a walk, you will cut their hair, bake them some goodies, or wrap some flowers – whatever you are good at and have time for. It doesn’t have to be on the same day – just ensure you ‘pay’ them back so that you can ask again in the future.
- Getting creative will ensure that your dog gets rid of their zoomies during the day, and are not zooming around the house at 8.30 or 9.00 pm at night.
Sleepy Dogs Don’t Do Zoomies!
The secret to a peaceful night with your dog is to make sure that they have had an interesting day and that they are tired and ready for bed (suggested by Readers Digest) at the right time.
Zoomies are cute, but you don’t want them doing them late in the evening, or nobody will get to sleep.
If your dog has had a busy day, or at least had a chance to play and run around to get some exercise, they are more inclined to be a bit sleepy by the time bedtime arrives. If you plan to go to bed at approximately the same time each night, your dog will get used to it and will be ready to snooze.
Dogs don’t do zoomies when they are tired, they do them when they are full of energy and excited to be with you. So burn that energy off early in the night after your business is finished.
Then everyone can calm down and concentrate on relaxing.
Routines pay off.
- Make sleep time at the same time each day, especially when your dog is a puppy. Then it will become accepted as part of normal life for your dog.
- Use the last hour or two before bed to do quiet activities. Reading, watching a movie, quiet talking (loud exciting talk will hype a dog up).
- Gentle grooming will help your dog relax, it is like getting a massage.
- Perhaps a small treat – not too much, or they will be up around midnight for a toilet break – but a small snack about half an hour or so before you turn the lights out will help your dog relax.
- A calm trip outside so your dog can go to the toilet before bed. Don’t get into a game with them, keep it peaceful and just part of the nighttime routine.
- In the cold of winter, a warm drink of water or perhaps milk before going to bed will work as a hot toddy does for you… it relaxes and makes you sleepy.
It can be hard to know when your dog will have a dose of the zoomies, but if you can ensure their day or early evening is full of activity, then any excess energy can be dispelled before bed.
Keep your voice calm and low at night, don’t instigate a pillow fight at bedtime, laugh loudly, or start moving around quickly, your dog may just think that you want to play, and the zoomies are just the beginning.
The Last Zoomies Before Bed!
Saving the last of your dog’s energy to the end of the day is a sure-fire way to trigger off a case of zoomies before bed.
But dogs will be dogs; knowing when they will suddenly get that look in their eyes and take off racing around the house, avoiding your efforts to catch them is impossible.
If it happens despite your best efforts, just sit tight and watch them enjoying life. The Zoomies only last for a few minutes, so it’s not the end of the world.
And who knows, that last burst of energy may just wear them out, and they will go to bed like the well-behaved dog you expect.
Writer: Jean Brewer