Why Do Dogs Get Zoomies After a Bath?

Bang! Zip! You’ve just finished giving your dog a bath and washing all that gross stuff out of their fur and they’re off! They are running around like a whirlwind and diving into the nearest patch of dirt or grass to get dirty all over again!

This is a common enough sight that many owners have started to wonder - Why exactly does my dog keep doing this? Should I be concerned?

A white dog with black spots being bathed in a white bathtub by a person

What Are Zoomies?

‘Zoomies’ are the common slang for when cats or dogs act crazy and start tearing around your house or garden. The proper term for them is Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs). Your average dog owner has probably seen them at least once.

Zoomies are a release response to a bunch of pent-up energy, normally from becoming overly excited or stressed. Some dogs or breeds may be more prone to it, or it may happen more during certain times of the day, but it's completely normal behavior and not normally anything to be concerned about.[1]

So why do baths often trigger this behavior?

They Are Stressed or Uncomfortable

Most dogs aren’t fond of water or being wet, and even those who like swimming may not like baths. Baths are very overstimulating, with cold and warm temperatures, scents, and sensations - such as being scrubbed or trimmed.

A wet dog may tolerate a scrub, but they are probably uncomfortable, and as much as dog owners try, there's not much to be done to make baths less of a pain.

For most dogs, the stress won’t be much of a problem, but they will still probably get frustrated. Once bath time is over they will feel a sense of immense relief and go running around out of joy of being released and to release nervous energy from being washed.

You can imagine a small child who has just heard the final bell sound after a particularly boring school day to imagine the joy your dog has now that they are free for their foreseeable future.

They may also be a bit cold, and running around helps them to get dry and warm up. 

Two dogs, running freely on a beach


They Are Excited

This may seem strange since we’ve just brought up how most dogs hate baths, but it's true.

Many dogs may be excited and act crazy after a bath because they’ve gotten to spend some time with you. They have been picked up, petted, fussed over, played with, and more, in an effort to get them into the bath and to stay still during bath time.

All of that pent-up energy and excitement from being fussed over can quickly go to their head and they may want to run around to get rid of those post-bath crazies.

They Want to Dry Off

Wet fur is generally uncomfortable, and may even be cold. In some dogs, their undercoat may stay dry in rain or when swimming but has now been washed and rinsed down to their skin. Even if you towel them, they’re still a wet dog.

Going crazy after a bath, running around, and rubbing themselves off on grass or furniture may be an attempt to shake off and rub off as much water as possible. A dog in the wild would not have access to towels, so running around may be the best option that they have to dry off.

They Have Water in Their Ears

While not the most likely cause, it is possible that your dog got some water in their ears during the rinsing period of bath time. This would not normally happen if they were swimming or getting rained on and it could be uncomfortable for them

They may be running around in an attempt to dislodge the water or relieve the discomfort they feel.

This can be more common in shorter-eared breeds, those with clipped ears, or dogs with upright ears. Water in the ears is not normally dangerous unless it sits there for a while, so they will probably calm down afterward. 

A brown chihuahua dog with short fur taking a bath in a small white tub.

To Get Their Scent Back

Unfortunately, not all dogs like scented shampoo. And though owners may enjoy the smell, your dog probably prefers their own scent. 

Dogs may roll in some foul stuff, but they do not mind smelling a bit stinky. It is in their nature to want to disguise their scent as a predator, so smelling like nothing, or a strong perfumed smell after their bath time may really not be up their alley.

This is most likely the reason that so many dogs immediately try to roll on dirt, grass, or on the carpet after being cleaned. They feel more secure when they have their familiar scent on themselves.

But My Dog Smells Really Bad!

If your dog constantly smells bad, without obviously rolling in foul-smelling stuff, then regular bathing might not be the best solution.

Chronic bad dog odor normally comes from an excess of skin oils building up on your dog’s fur. Skin irritations and infections are often the cause, and could be anything from allergies to yeast infections. Redness, swelling, or hair loss can all indicate a more severe issue that bath time won't solve.[2]

Other health issues such as ear infections or impacted anal glands can also lead to a very smelly dog.

Try grooming your dog more often to distribute oils, but if your dog seems very oily or chronically stinky, then it may be time to see a vet about the issue. 

Three dogs of different breeds running through a grassy field.


Fleeing From Uncomfortable Temperatures and Lack of Control

As we’ve covered in this article already, going crazy after a bath is a good way for dogs to release pent-up energy, especially if they’re feeling stressed or overstimulated.

It may not take a lot for your dog to feel overstimulated. A bath is normally loud with splashing and showering, slippery, smells weird, cold, wet, they are being scrubbed, they are being restrained. It's a lot to take in.

Many owners also make the mistake of making water too hot. Humans may enjoy a hot bath, but it's not a dog’s favorite thing. Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, and an overly warm bath can make them quite uncomfortable.

Opting for a lukewarm bath in a suitably warm room, cooler than many of us would prefer to bathe in, may be a lot more soothing and natural for a dog, preventing some of the post-bath crazies.

It's a Habit

Sometimes the post-bath zoomies are just an expression of pure joy, and if your dog enjoyed or got some relief doing it once - they’ll probably try and do it again.

In the same way that getting a little treat after a hard day of work can become a habit, going crazy after a bath can act as a reward for sitting through bathtime. If you bathe your dog regularly or on a schedule, then they probably just enjoy doing it and may continue to zoom for the foreseeable future.  

A wet, brown dog with its tongue hanging out.


How Can I Make Bath Time More Comfortable For My Dog?

There’s no guarantee that a more relaxed bath will lead to fewer instances or less intense zoomies, but if you are concerned then it may be worth a shot to see if it helps.[3]

#1 Make the Ordeal As Short As Possible

A bit of prep time can go a long way to making the bath process easier. Take the time to groom your dog beforehand, so there’s less working through mats and clumps of fur while they’re in there. 

Gathering all of your bath and grooming supplies beforehand, so that they’re easy to find and reach, may also help speed things up a lot.

#2 Make The Bath as Comfortable as Possible

Some owners recommend placing a towel or a non-slip mat in the bath. This will help prevent panicking from the slippage, and may even prevent injuries in more elderly dogs.

Make sure the temperature is lukewarm, both cold and warm temperatures can be overstimulating. It will help if the bathroom isn’t too cold either.

Try to keep the water away from your dog’s head, especially their ears. For some dogs, it may even be a good idea to place some cotton wool or something in their ears to make it more comfortable for them.

Always try to dry your dog off as much and as quickly as possible. This may be challenging on some breeds that have a very thick undercoat, but it can make the whole experience a little easier.

#3 Plenty of Treats and Praise

Unsurprisingly, treats and praise can make bathtime a more pleasant experience for dogs. 

This may seem counterintuitive since the treats can make your pup more excited, but you can use them as a reward for good behavior, such as sitting calmly or not struggling too much during shampooing.

A well-timed treat throw may even be distracting enough to ward off the zoomie response after the toweling and drying have finished.

Putting a clean - but previously worn - item of dog clothing on them may also help them feel like they’ve got a bit of their scent back.  

A small brown dog wearing a pink sweater and a towel wrapped around its head



There are a number of reasons why your dog may go crazy after a bath, but it normally boils down to:

They became overexcited - e.g. from the bath being finished, from the attention they received in the bath, or pure zest for life.

They became overstimulated or stressed - e.g. the water was too hot or cold, they don’t like water, or they felt uncomfortable.

They are trying to dry off - e.g. they are running around to dry, get their scent back, or to remove water from their ears.

Zoomies are nothing to be concerned about, but you can try and reduce them by making sure your dog is as calm and happy as they can be under the circumstances. However, even this might not fully get rid of the zoomies.

If you would like some tools to help make bathing easier on both you and your dog, try checking out Sparkpaws’ new Dog Grooming Collection for a selection of tools and towels to make bathtime just a little easier.

Whatever the case, we wish you and your dog comfortable and easy bathtimes in the future.

Ext Links

[1] https://www.akc.org

[2] https://www.lonetreevet.com

[3] https://www.houndslounge.com