Sometimes your furry friend doesn’t understand things that are normal to us. For example, when you drop something, it makes a loud crash and they run for their lives. They don’t know what happened and immediately jump into their fight or flight response. With animals, this reaction is literally to react by either being aggressive and showing they aren’t intimidated or running away in fear.
This can happen when you start your vacuum – your dog either thinks it’s a monster, or a strange creature making a weird noise and they flee. So, why does this happen? Let’s explore some potential reasons.
The 5 Likely Reasons Dogs Bark at Vacuums
1. They’re Scared of Loud Noises
Your dog might react in fear to a vacuum because it makes loud noises. It’s not something they like, and no matter how many times you use it they keep running away. You might notice your dog reacting by running to a different room. Their ears will turn back, and you can see that they’re scared. Maybe your dog experienced something traumatic with a loud noise that causes this reaction.
In other cases, your dog might have sensitive hearing. Dogs have very different personalities, so one dog who might sleep through a loud noise will react differently from one who dislikes lower noises like plates clinking together.
2. They’re Protecting Themselves or You
There is also the case where dogs might see a vacuum as something big, loud, and scary. They don’t understand that you’re just cleaning. They see a large contraption that’s bigger than them (well, sometimes) and it’s moving toward them – they don’t know whether to attack or run.
Dogs might see this as a threat to themselves or to their owners. As much as we know that dogs are a man’s best friend, this isn’t too surprising. You might see them lunge towards the vacuum, swat at it, growl, or flat out attack it. They usually think they’re helping.
3. They’re Hunting Their Prey
When you get the vacuum out, your dog might think it’s their next meal. As natural predators, dogs might see their food as an object to track down and essentially kill for food. So, when your dog gets angry at your vacuum, it’s because they think it’s something to attack. Their instinct to catch something moving back and forth is coming out.
You might think they look angry and scary, but really, your dog is just confused about the difference between their favorite toy and a vacuum.
4. Vacuums Look and Smell Strange
Something that was touched on a bit earlier is that vacuums are strange and new things to dogs. Especially because there are so many different brands, sizes, shapes, and levels of noise. Also, think about how many times you buy a new vacuum throughout a dog’s lifetime. It’s difficult for them to get used to something that might change frequently, or only be taken out occasionally.
Dogs use their sense of smell to recognize different things. Usually, they will smell a person or their food and recognize it. With a vacuum, you can only imagine the myriad of different smells that come about!
5. You’ve Accidentally Encouraged the Behavior
It’s a normal response to react by laughing or giving your dog a pat when they do something silly. Pets are funny creatures who surprise us all the time with their weird little antics and reactions to different situations. We bet you’ve seen all those internet videos.
You might laugh or pet them after they react negatively to your vacuum. Usually, there is no bad intention behind an owner doing this to their dog, but these reactions can encourage them to do it again because they know it’ll get your attention. Remember that dogs are creatures who learn from their owners’ reactions to different behavior. Try some other ways to calm them down or show them not to be scared by introducing them slowly to your vacuum, or other methods slowly over time.
Help Your Dog Recognize Your Vacuum
There are a few different methods to keep your dog from being scared and stressed out when they see you take your vacuum out of the closet. The best way is to leave the vacuum turned off while you stand in front of them with it and let them explore the vacuum while it’s turned off. Maybe even move it around a bit to let them see that it moving is not a threat. Reward them with a treat for not barking while the vacuum is turned off.
Then, gradually turn the vacuum on for a little while and run it in front of them. If they bark, don’t react in any way. Just turn it off, calm your dog down, and repeat the process. Next time, calm your dog down while the vacuum is turned on and reward them with a treat for calming down. Repeat this process and your dog will eventually get used to the vacuum being on.
If your dog barks at the vacuum, it’s important to encourage them to calm down after an experience with your vacuum such as giving them treats or calming affirmation after it’s already been put away. Don’t encourage them to react aggressively, let them know it isn’t a threat, and remember that it isn’t the end of the world! You can help them get used to it eventually.
Featured Image Credit: jaromir chalabala, Shutterstock