Maybe you can relate: every time you finish giving your dog a bath and release him from the bathroom, he immediately starts zooming around the house and rubbing against everything in sight. Why is that?
What we call “the zoomies” or “the crazies,” scientists call a FRAP – Frenetic Random Activity Period. Whatever you call it, it’s amusing to us humans but seems joyful for our pups.
There are lots of theories out there, none of which have been verified, but all of which sound plausible. Here are 5 theories about why dogs get the zoomies after a bath.
#1 – He’s releasing pent-up energy
You know how the release of adrenaline you get after you do something scary – like giving a speech in public, skydiving, or talking to an attractive stranger – makes you feel shaky, like you have too much energy? You might even flap your hands to release some of that extra energy. Your dog has to sit still through a thing he hates and wants to escape from, but he can’t escape until he’s clean and rinsed.
Once the torture of the bath is over, your dog wants to release all that extra energy he has from sitting relatively still during an activity that he probably dislikes. Besides, anybody who works on their feet knows how torturous standing in one place can be when you aren’t able to walk around freely. Your dog is just stretching his legs.
#2 – He’s trying to dry off
No matter how many towels you use on your dog after the bath, he’s probably going to be damp still (unless you use a professional hair dryer).
Just like the movement of air over your hair helps to dry it, even on a cool setting, running around the house probably causes enough air flow to speed up the drying process. Rubbing himself against the carpet, sofa, or dog bed helps remove even more moisture so that your dog can get dry quicker.
Even dogs that enjoy swimming probably don’t enjoy being wet after a swim unless it’s a hot day outside and the dampness helps them feel cool. In your climate-controlled home, being damp probably makes them feel a little chilly.
#3 – Your dog wants “his” scent back
While you may prefer your dog to smell like flowers, he would prefer to smell like dirt, grass, and dead things.
Smelling like their environment helps dogs (and their ancestors, wolves) to sneak up on their prey. He also wants to smell like he belongs, and his idea of belonging isn’t smelling like perfume. Also, dogs have a sense of smell that’s at least 10,000 times better than ours, so even the slightest hint of a scent in the shampoo that you use may bother your dog enough for him to want to try to rub it off of himself.
It probably took him a long time to smell just the way he likes, and now you’ve made him start the process all over again!
#4 – He’s trying to get water out of his ears
Unless you put cotton balls in your dog’s ears before the bath, there’s always a chance of getting a little bit of water in your dog’s ear canals.
If you’ve ever gone swimming, you know how the world sounds “wrong” when you have water trapped in one of your ears. Your dog probably feels the same way. The rush of air when they run and the friction as they rub their head on any solid surface may help to dislodge water from their ear canals, which may make them feel better. Water trapped in the ear canal can lead to an ear infection, so it’s beneficial if they can dislodge that water first.
#5 – He’s expressing his joy and relief at being finished with something he doesn’t like
If you’ve ever celebrated the end of exams or a difficult project at work, then you can understand why your dog might want to celebrate the end of an awful bath with a few victory laps around your home. They can’t go out for drinks to celebrate, so the zoomies are as good a way as any to express their relief at surviving a stressful event.
And really, doesn’t your dog just look ecstatic as they run around the house with a grin? They may even dip into a play bow or two, or bring you their favorite toy to play with. Why not help them enjoy their celebration with a little bit of play time?