Frenetic Random Activity Period!
Sometimes your puppy will appear to lose their ever loving mind and run around like a little demon. There might be barking and bouncing about, a generally wild behavior. This is a normal developmental behavior and it has a name, FRAP!
FRAP can be fun but sometimes this playful behavior can be destructive and even dangerous. Here are a couple of rules to keep to when you see your pup going into a frenetic period.
1. Don’t worry, relax and enjoy
This is a normal developmental behavior and sometimes is seen in dogs that are past their puppyhood, sometimes as late as two or three years of age, but more typically in dogs between the age of two months to one year. If the behavior is reinforced, then it may become a regular part of their routine. In order to avoid that, it is important to not participate in the behavior. Just sit back and smile. If your dog is destructive and potentially going to be a large dog, try not to laugh, as this may encourage them to go even crazier and potentially carry this behavior into adulthood. Maybe you could film it and laugh about it later;)
2. An ounce of prevention…
If your pup has had all of their shots then you’re in luck! Find a puppy kindergarten class and sign up. Don’t worry if you’re not seeing your pup learning a lot of what you may think is important, like walking on a leash or even sitting. Wrestling, or if you have a shy dog, watching other dogs wrestle, can be an amazing drain on their energy and can limit or even eliminate the occurrence of these FRAP sessions. If your dog just goes to puppy kindergarten and hides the entire time under your seat, then comes home and loses their mind, don’t worry. This means the best thing you can do is return to the class again and again, until they engage. Once they do, and they will if you are consistent, they will have learned a very essential lesson about relating to other dogs and that will give you a way to get your dog tired when they get older.
Below is a video of Nora the Shitzu and my dog Rowdy playing in the back yard. Nora’s mom called me concerned that her puppy Nora was biting, barking and generally exhibiting some FRAPish tendencies. She attended some puppy kindergarten classes and came with me for some training sessions. Needless to say she did not show any of those FRAPish tendencies when she got home after this!
3. All things in their right place
Is your pup making a right mess of your home as they FRAP the heck out? The best thing for a young pup is to have the space they need in order be the pup they are. Limit the amount of space the puppy has in your house to the confines of one or maybe two small rooms. This allows them to not have to comprehend a potentially “too large” space. If you live in an apartment, this has the added benefit of keeping them from tearing up your stuff.
4. Knowing when the storm will hit
Common times for Frenetic Random Activity Periods are mornings upon waking and evenings before bedtime. This is because dogs have extra energy to burn and they are ready to rock! So these might be good times to engage with a little structured training in anticipation of this extra energy out burst. I also find though that dogs that have been doing vigorous training exercises for extended periods of time will occasionally go into a FRAP state. It’s important to know what your dog can handle and not try to combat them on this. Also, bath time will quite often result in a FRAP session. If this is the case for your pup know that this is because the body is attempting to raise the body temperature of the dog in order to compensate for the loss of heat due to being wet. Again this is totally normal and should not be scolded or cheered as either might reinforce the behavior. Simply dry your dog as much as you can and wrap them in as many towels or blankets as you can and place them in a crate. This can reduce the bodies autonomic response of injecting the adrenaline that brings about the FRAP state. Make sure to change the towels and blankets every thirty minutes or so in order to prevent the skin from becoming closed in with dampness for too long as this can result in hotspots. Hairdryers can also help but often dogs need to be taught to trust such a noisy and obtrusive tool, so take your time introducing it and it will pay off in the long run.
5. When the storm has passed
The worst thing you can do during a FRAP session is repeat the dogs name. They are in another dimension of reality and repeating their name will only result in them ignoring your voice in the future, so refrain from using their name at all. However, once the crazies have been exorcized from the little beastie, feel free to re-engage them. If you see them shake off the wildness, you can say “good (insert name here)”. If they lie down and lounge out, go over and join them and say “Good Girl” or “Good Boy” softly so as to reinforce this state of relaxedness. If, however, your pup jumps up and resumes their wild ways, return to the more aloof state of watching but not participating in this behavior. This eventually will teach your dog to return to a relaxed state more quickly, until the behavior is extinguished.
Plenty of exercise is not always enough for every dog when it comes to extinguishing this phenomenon, but it can’t hurt. Doing a structured walk or puzzle, visiting the dog park, doing agility routines, drafting a cart, engaging in zoomies in the yard or all of these things in one day might still result in a dog with extra energy that results in FRAP. These instances are very rare and if your full grown dog is having trouble with finding a peaceful nights rest, or seems to be driven to a more destructive place, you should get in touch with a vet-recommended trainer or a behaviorist, as this is a problem that has solutions.