The dreaded vacuum. As soon as the dog sees you headed to the broom closet to get the vacuum, your furry friend becomes a monster and begins to bark, growl, and bite at it. Some of them tense up and hide, and others couldn’t care less. And, as if running the vacuum is not a dreaded chore, now you may have to deal with a dog demonstrating aggressive or fearful behavior toward it.
So, this begs the question, “Why are dogs afraid of the vacuum, and what can we do to help them?”
The 4 Reasons Why Dogs Are Afraid of Vacuums
While some dogs do not seem to be phased by the vacuum cleaner, others react to it like thunder and fireworks. They are loud and appear threatening. Especially the self-propelled ones because they are not only noisy but also appear out of nowhere and then disappear. The unexpected movements can be alarming for a dog.
1. Never Seen a Vacuum
One of the most common reasons dogs have a negative reaction to the vacuum cleaner is that they are not exposed to it in a gradual manner. Suddenly, there is this loud, obnoxious apparatus being moved here and there, and it appears to be attacking everything. Of course, your canine becomes fearful or protective.
2. Dog Has a Fearful Nature
In some cases, your dog may have a nervous and fearful nature. These are the dogs that are fearful overall. They get startled easily and are nervous with loud noises and things that are strange to them.
3. Past Negative Experiences
Other times, it may be because the dog had a negative experience with a vacuum cleaner. Maybe their tail got caught in one or a previous owner used it as a punishment.
4. They Think the Vacuum Is Naughty!
And then we have the working dog breeds that think that the vacuum is disobedient. To a working or herding dog, the vacuum appears to be cattle or sheep that are straying and need to be put in line. So, they will begin to chase and bark at the vacuum. This can appear to be fear, but it is not; it is instinctual.
Signs Your Dog May Be Fearful of the Vacuum
How You Can Help Your Dog if It Has Vacuum Phobia
Desensitizing methods may help to minimize the fear of the vacuum. It will depend on the severity, however. You can praise the dog and feed it some treats while slowly exposing it to the vacuum.
As with any training or desensitizing methods, it can be time-consuming, and you may get frustrated. Do not be punishing, and practice patience so the dog does not become more stressed.
For dogs that are overly sensitive and nervous, you may not want to push the issue. In that case, you can manage the dog’s environment by putting it in a closed room while you are vacuuming. Give it something to occupy itself, like a puzzle toy, and turn on some music or the television.
While not all dogs will react to the vacuum cleaner in the same way, most of them will have some sort of reaction to this large piece of machinery that is making loud noises and invading their space. Remember, some dogs are naturally nervous and will run and hide from it, and others will herd it because it is instinctual.
Either way, there are methods to desensitize your dog so it becomes comfortable with the vacuum, or you can control the environment to help relieve the dog’s stress. This will make for a more pleasant cleaning experience—if there is such a thing!
Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock