The Zoomies - aka Rocket Butt aka Living room Parkour aka Duck and Cover
It's 8pm. You're settled in on the couch watching your favorite evening television, when it strikes...
Your dog pops up from whatever toy or chewy they were enjoying, tucks their butt under their legs and blasts off, running around the room. Two laps around the coffee table, over the ottoman, behind the couch, over the top, banking off of you, flying over to the other chair and landing in a play bow, ready for 10 more laps.
Yes the dreaded Zoomies. That moment in time when your dog is deaf to the world and happy to make a flying leap from any surface, like the are making a submission tape for The Next Ninja Warrior competition. While your dog may think he's ready for Mount Midoriyama (sorry, geeky TV reference), but you and your rearranged house are less enthused.
So how does one quell the 8pm (or perhaps 10pm, whatever your witching hour is) Parkour antics or at least schedule them for a more reasonable hour? Well first it's important to know what the Zoomies are. Zoomies are usually your dog burning off residual stress or boredom. It is most common in dogs under 2.5 years of age and will lessen as the dog ages. The Zoomies most commonly occur in the evening between 5pm and 10pm, usually after the dog has napped or been shut away. When a young dog rests they can have built up nervous energy that they need to burn off. Sometimes the Zoomies can also occur in outdoor spaces, if the dog is not used to being let loose, or at high excitement or stressful events such as Agility and Competition Obedience.
If you are looking to stop a bout of the Zoomies the first thing to consider is prevention. Heading off the behavior before it starts will eventually stop it from happening alltogether. Allowing your dog to burn off energy just prior to when it is likely to happen, will usually prevent the behavior. Taking your dog for a walk, playing ball in the yard, playing with a food puzzle or some brief obedience training 15-20 minutes prior to a normal Zoomies outburst will usually prevent it. And as the dog ages the possibility will become less and less.
If you're one of those people who finds the Zoomies fun and cute when they are convenient but upset when they are not at a good time, you need to decide one way or the other about them. It isn't fair to the dog to encourage a behavior and then punish or yell at them later for it. If you want to reschedule the Zoomies and have a set time of day for them when they are more convenient, you can slowly accomplish this by encouraging fast and exciting bouts of play just prior to when the behavior starts on its own. As you turn back the clock on the behavior, you might also find the it happens less naturally, and more when you invite it.
Also an important bit of advice. DO NOT play with laser pointers or encourage behaviors like light chasing, shadow chasing or tail chasing. These behaviors can morph into serious behavioral problems like Canine Compulsive Disorder (similar to human OCD) in which the dog will habitually, obsessively, and quite emotionally, repeat these behaviors.
I hope this helps you better understand your dog's crazy behavior and give you some comfort in how to make it easier to live with until your dog outgrows it. If you are seeing this behavior outside the home, while your dog is working or in competition, you may be dealing with a stress problem and require additional assistance. And if all else fails, perhaps you can find an agent and submit your dog's video to Canine Ninja Warrior (does not exist yet... as far as I know).