Q. Why does a perfectly relaxed dog jump up and start tearing around the house at a hundred miles an hour out of nowhere?
A. Trainers and behaviorists call these FRAPs: frenetic random activity periods. A lot of pet lovers just call them “zoomies.” Puppy and young dogs are most likely to engage in these bursts of crazy, but even an old dog can sometimes get the zoomies, especially with a pup to spur him on. Sometimes dogs can be trained to respond with a “zoomie clue” from you: If you mimic a play bow (front down, rear up and a smile on your face), your dog may jump right in to play with you and then it’s FRAP time.
While FRAPs are just a normal release of energy, they can be a problem if the house is small and the dog is large. If you know a certain time of day (early evening is common) when your dog is likely to zoom, set him up to do it outside. (If you can cue him into a zoomie with play bow, you’re all set.) Even better, help your pet release that energy with a game of fetch or something else that will get his heart beating. Most dogs these days are “born retired” and don’t get all the exercise they need. If your dog careens into the zoomies outside, no harm done: Just enjoy the sheer joy of your happy dog. If that’s an option, puppy-proofing your yard will keep the risk of damage down.
While FRAPs are fine outside and should be encouraged, don’t reward the behavior inside if it’s a problem for you. If your dog is small and the valuables are safe, though, you both can enjoy the moment. The happiness is so contagious you’ll both be smiling. I love watching my dogs being so happy, especially our youngest, Gracie, the former shelter dog.