Our dogs can be extremely sensitive animals. So, the frightening spin of the vacuum’s motor; its immense power and strength; and the formidable reach of the strange long hose can be scary to them. Owners really do not have to ask the question Why are dogs afraid of vacuums?
Some dogs are simply as frightened as the proverbial scaredy cat and this is particularly so when you get the vacuum cleaner out. A few dogs only get slightly anxious around the vacuum, whereas other dogs are totally terrified, and they try to do anything that they can to run away. When your dog is scared of your vacuum cleaner, it is important to understand the reason behind this dread and then come up with some steps to fix the problem.
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The Heart of the Behavior
Dogs are all unsurprisingly predisposed to be scared of noises and movement and of things that they cannot completely understand. Dogs might be seen to be inquisitive as they explore their environments by sniffing carefully trying to comprehend these new discoveries. However, most dogs proceed with caution. This natural fear is an innate behavioral response which has long existed to protect wolves in the wild from prey or any attacker they may have met. Dogs today will still certainly go into this fight or flight mode when something strange is going on in their world. Only now, the strange fight or flight inducing intruder is in making confusing noises in their own home; and some dogs can simply just not adjust to sight or sounds of a vacuum cleaner. Some dogs have held onto this instinct a little to tightly and have a habit of being more fearful than others.
Consideration of where your dog’s fear comes from is invaluable, and there are a few typical reasons why dogs go onto experience fear of the vacuum cleaner.
- Lack of experience: This will be the most common reason why the majority of dogs are frightened of the vacuum cleaner. If a dog has not been familiarized with a vacuum in a measured, non-threatening way from when they were a puppy, then it is understandably terrifying.
- You have trained them that way.If you have used a dog whistle or a clicker for training then you will have used sounds to act as a warning of danger, This can then mean that they will reasonably believe that the vacuum is a thing to be frightened of as it too makes unusual noises as it moves along.
- Having a bad experience: Where a dog has been surprized by a vacuum cleaner’s noise to begin with, this can perhaps turn into a vacuum cleaner phobia over a period of time. Sometimes and dog may have been accidentally hurt, or has been playing with the cleaner and got trapped.
- Fearful nature: All dogs just like us humans have their own inimitable character, and some dogs are just more fearful than others. There are dogs that are cautious and nervous everywhere they go, not just around a vacuum cleaner.
Phobias can occur all too readily. This can often be a resulting factor when a dog has not been exposed as a puppy to a vacuum cleaner on a regular basis. A trained dog that is going to be part of your loving home must be able to handle the sound of a vacuum, but these machines will be making bizarre high-pitched sounds to your dog. Vacuum cleaners also move around the dust from your floors which will bring out all kinds of smells that will be sensitive to your dog’s nose. There is the movement of the machine and its strange ability to suck up all kinds of things left on the floor. Your dog is probably not going to understand why this noisy interloper is regularly taken out of a cupboard to completely disrupt their living space. Dogs that are anxious can also be excessively protective of their human family and so the loud intruder that is all around their loved ones need to be attacked.
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Dog Breeds and the Vacuum
The dog breeds that are normally herders will routinely get the urge to herd your vacuum cleaner around the room. Although vacuum cleaners make strange looking sheep, herding dog breeds will still get completely frustrated as their instinctive behavior kicks in, However, they will become disillusioned by that fact that this sheep can’t be caught, and that it just keeps going back into the cupboard over and over again. There are also genetically more fearful dog breeds and these dogs will always find the vacuum difficult to deal with. It can be more of a challenge to change the mind of a dog breed which is naturally scared so lots of positive training will be needed. A fearful dog might feel that they are being chased by the vacuum and may run in fear.
Signs of Fear of a Vacuum Cleaner
It is actually fairly common for many dogs to become fearful of the vacuum making cleaning up for you more challenging. There are lots of signs that your dog could display if they are fearful of the vacuum. When you see a dog running and hiding, drooling unexpectedly, urinating inside, hiding beneath furniture. or barking and attacking the vacuum cleaner, then these are all actually signs of real fear in your dog. Dependent on the strength of the fear, you may wish to fix these fears as it might be interfering with your happy home and is also stressful for your dog.
Not all dogs who are frightened of a vacuum cleaner will show typical fear behaviors. Many dogs will respond to their fear by deciding that if they attack the vacuum then this is the best form of defence. When your dog does battle with the vacuum as if it is an intruder in your home then this can be tricky for everyone involved. It can be difficult at best, and hazardous at worst. It is possible that your dog might hurt themselves by thrusting their nose into the suction end or by jumping at the cleaner as you are moving along. Vacuum cleaners also can have small parts which can be a choking hazard for dogs.
The sooner you show your dog that the cleaner is not a thing to fear, the more readily you will all have a much more peaceful time in your house. Try to be caring, be open-minded, and ensure that your dog has lots of love, comfort, and hugs if they display any signs of fear.
It is important to remember that your dog does not comprehend what your vacuum cleaner actually is, or what on earth you are using it for. All dogs know is that they have sniffed something, and the cleaner sniffed back at a significant volume and with a lot of fierceness.
How to Stop a Dog Fearing the Vacuum Cleaner
Soothing a dog that is frightened will take some time and patience, but by simply leaving the vacuum out around the home without turning it on, this might help reassure your dog to see the cleaner in a new and friendlier light. You can try only using the vacuum in another room, so it is quieter for your dog and slowly bring it into a near your dog.
Giving treats at cleaning time might also help to assure your dog that the vacuum cleaner is not so bad after all. A interactive dog toy that distributes dog treats gives your dog something else to focus on other than the vacuum cleaner. As a distraction, turning on a washing machine or putting on the television might also help to disguise the noise from the cleaner.
The scariest part of the vacuum for your dog is usually when you are turning it on. So, ensure that your dog is happily taking treats from you, and has a relaxed posture around a turned-off vacuum cleaner before you turn it on. Even when your dog starts to tolerate the moving vacuum, you might still want to always turn the vacuum cleaner on in an alternative room, or at a good distance from your dog, so that they always feel safe and remain calm.
Remember that chasing your dog with the vacuum cleaner is not going to give your dog the right message, as it will most likely not seem like a game to your fearful dog.
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There are not going to be many humans that enjoy vacuuming, and your dog undoubtedly agrees with that too. From a dog’s perspective, a vacuum cleaner is a scary this on wheels that comes for them and produces roaring sounds, moves unpredictably, first chasing and then retreating, and they suck up everything that they see. And even when they try to find some protection under a table or behind the couch, the vacuum cleaner keeps coming for them. It is not shocking then if the simple sight of the vacuum cleaner is sufficient to activate a dog to take an aggressive or self-protective stand.
- Why Are Dogs Scared of Vacuums? – PetMD