What are dog zoomies? Our previous article explains a few facts about the zoomies you need to know before trying to manage the behavior. It is important to know that zoomies are normal. They are a part of growing development. Some people never try to stop the behavior. In come cases they cannot be stopped, only managed.
While I am attempting to help you solve a mild case of the zoomies that your dog should grow out of, you must understand that any OCD or compulsive behavior may suggest more serious problem. Some of these can be controlled if dealt with early, others may need medication.
If your puppy does not settle down after a week please contact me. Write out your case and I will try to help. If you feel your puppy has a serious problem then please contact me for a consult, or contact a behavior consultant (www.iaabc.org) in your area.
How to Stop FRAP or Puppy Zoomies
Coping Mechanism #1
When puppies bite or play we stop playing the game and turn our back. When they stop we go back to playing with them. We will use the word ‘leave it’ although we are not worrying about teaching a trick. We are establishing a behavior in the dog.
If the dog persists then put him in a crate for a 1 – 2 minute time out. This may be necessary when dealing with the zoomies because it seems that the puppy turns its brain off at these times. Even if this doesn’t work everyone in the family must follow this practice so the puppy learns that biting is not allowed.
Coping Mechanism #2
If your puppy is in the middle of the zoomies we find that putting a light pressure on its shoulder blades should bring it to a stop. The puppy will look at you. Keep your hand on the puppy. It should slowly melt to the floor.
If you have a high drive or dominant dog then it will totally refuse to go to the floor. You may need to assist it. This won’t go over well so it will try to bite you. Hold the puppy firmly under the chin, or over the muzzle. Do not fight the puppy. If it still will not lay down then wrap your free arm around the puppy and ‘sweep its feet out.’ Be careful that this is more of a ‘hug’ and down. This is not a dominant down or alpha dog move.
This forces the puppy to stop the behavior – but you are not abandoning the puppy. You are staying with it and helping it work through the problem.
Coping Mechanism #3
You cannot do any of our techniques successfully without using a massage or relaxation technique like Tellington Touch. Look for tension in the puppy and massage it out. Don’t just pet the puppy, that has little effect.
Work until you see the tension go out of the puppy. If you are not willing to do this step then do not use Step #2.
When you are comforting or massaging the dog introduce a ‘cue’ word that is calming. Eventually this word will become strong enough it will often be all you need.
Coping Mechanism #4
Engage the puppy. We use clicker and sit, then down. Even if you can get the puppy to focus on you and a treat then you are doing well. Remember that zoomies may be a stress coping mechanism. So don’t keep your puppy still for too long or you may start building up stress.
Move through various activities. Play brain games.
Coping Mechanism #5
Chart when it happens. Then 15 minutes before start a play time, or put the dog in a crate with a chew toy. Don’t think ‘just exercise’. You want to focus the dog’s brain – engagement.
Coping Mechanism #6
Part of my puppy raising is teaching self-control exercises. These can be simple as teaching the puppy that it must stop when you sit down to watch television, or work, or stop walking to do the dishes. The puppy may not need to lay down but it must stop moving until you give a release word.
This is part of stress management training and shouldn’t be done without the help of a trainer.
Coping Mechanism #7
Other trainers keep their puppy leashed to them for 1 hour a day, until the puppy learns to be calm. Do not do this while the puppy is ‘in the zoomies’ or being psyco pup. Do it at a quiet time of the day. Remember to always set your puppy up for success.