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Ask a Dog Trainer: Why Does My Dog Go Crazy After A Bath?

| Published on September 25, 2015

Many dogs get what owners affectionately call “the zoomies” after a bath. Something about it gets them riled up and they speed through the house, often stopping to rub all over a bed, couch, blanket, etc. But the question is, why?

Tonya Wilhelm, owner of Global Dog Training, has been a dog training specialist for almost two decades and was just named one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States. She focuses on treating dogs holistically, from the inside out. She has written a number of books, including “Proactive Puppy Care,” “Please Stay” and is a co-author of “What’s For Dinner, Dexter?: Cooking For Your Dog Using Chinese Medicine Theory.”

Wilhelm told that while no one knows for sure why dogs “get the crazies” after a bath, there are a few theories out there.


We know that dogs have several “calming signals” that they do to relieve stress. One of the common ones is “shaking it off.” You will see dogs who are dry, shake off as if they are wet. These dogs are stressed and are trying to calm themselves through the behavior.

Image source: @PaulMorris via Flickr
Image source: @PaulMorris via Flickr


In her book “Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out,” Laura VanArendonk Baugh CPDT-KA KPACTP explains “Movement helps to relieve stress. (Anyone who had ever seen a dog get ‘the zoomies’ during agility or after a bath has seen this in action.” (p. 32)

Since most dogs are not fond of baths, they are stressed by the process. Wilhelm explains that the zoomies help them get rid of that stress:

“He was a good boy, tolerating his wet body, getting scrubbed, possibly a little soap in his eyes.  We know that after a stressful event, dogs “shake it off” by doing a body shake.  So, jumping to the theory of relief, seems pretty easy.”

Rinji & Zuko Zoomie
Image source: @TarotheShibaInu via Flickr


Once the stress is released, it’s possible your dog continues to zoom because, well, it’s fun! Wilhelm explains that dogs often “zoom” at other times as well:

“I think after the relief release, some dogs go right into fun.  You may recall other times when your dog gets the zoomies, races around the house having a good ol’ time. Maybe they even have a history of you trying to chase them down.  We all know a dog loves a good game of chase.  Puppy zoomies are common when dogs get overly excited.  We may see this in a greeting behavior, before eating, or triggered by a play gesture.  It’s a great release of energy and don’t be surprised if your dog needs to have a bowel movement afterward.”

And some dogs enjoy baths, but still get the zoomies afterward.

Image source: @ChristinaSpicuzza via flickr
Image source: @ChristinaSpicuzza via flickr


Getting The “Stink” Off

While you may think that perfume-scented shampoo is delightful, your dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times more than yours. Just imagine being dipped into a bath that pungent. (Imagine Bath and Body Works times ten. All over your body). Yuck. And that’s how your dog probably feels.

Image source: @Greebile via Flickr


Wilhelm explains:

“He’s worked for the last month at smelling like his environment, and fitting in.  Now, you just washed all that away, and put an ‘unusual’ scent on him.  He may be trying to remove the new smell and smell ‘normal’ again.”

Quick Tips

The bottom line, Wilhelm says don’t worry about the zoomies! She has a few tips to incorporate them into your normal bathing routine:

1. Plan ahead and encourage a quick game of zoomies after a bath

2. When your dog is worn out, you can finish drying a lot easier than before the zoomies

3. Make sure your dog is completely dry before you let him outside, the last thing you want is for him to go roll in something stinky. He will be less likely to do that if he is completely dry and you have already let him have his zoomies.

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