Dogs fear of the vacuum.

Fear of the Vacuum

Posted Feb 20, 2018 in Dog Tips

Vacuum cleaners terrify dogs.  Big or small, dogs generally are afraid of the “scary monster” that is known as “the vacuum.” Often times when they see the vacuum come out, they run away, bark, or hide. Good news: there is hope to fixing this problem! Teaching your dog to be accountable for their attention in the presence of the vacuum is beneficial for everyone in your home. Here are some tips on how to train your dog to be calm and confident next time you bring out the vacuum to do some cleaning!

Acclimate Your Dog

Progression is almost always the best way to gain confidence to overcome fear, in many different scenarios. Keep the vacuum in a visible place so your dog gets used to seeing and being near it. If they see it when it is not actually in use, it will help them to be less reactive. Also keep the vacuum in an area that your dog spends time in. Let them sniff and investigate the vacuum. If they are familiar with it, they will naturally be less reactive. 

Basic Obedience with the Vacuum

Start with come and sit while placing the vacuum in the middle of the room and have the dog pass it several times while it is off. Then add the sound element by turning it on, and repeating the obedience skills. Use whatever rewards work best for your dog and implement these into this progression. You can then tighten the circle and have your dog sitting closer to it each time. Then change the picture for the dog by going into another room and starting the same process all over again. Since dogs are so visual, it is key for their comprehension and belief system to “change the picture” so that the vacuum becomes a mute point and is an everyday part of life in the home.

Reduce the Height

One of the things about vacuums that frightens your dog is the height and how it is looming over them. Try to keep the vacuum as close to the ground as possible. Your best best is to adjust the height if you can or lay it on the ground when it’s not in use.

Make the Vacuum Friendly

There are many ways to make your dog associate positive attributes with the vacuum. One way is to put a towel over it when it is off. They will become accustomed to the smell of the towel, making it more appealing. You can also put a treat on the vacuum and observe to see if your dog approaches the vacuum. Treats make everything better!

Dog Toys

Similar to putting a treat on the vacuum, you can also try putting a toy on the vacuum. If your dog is very attached to a toy, they’ll approach the vacuum no matter what. After enough time, they may associate the vacuum with playing or their other toy.

Turn on the Vacuum

After you do all these steps, it’s time to turn the vacuum on. They may run away at first, but they also could just observe. Keep the vacuum in place for a little while. If it is not moving, your dog will be less fearful of approaching. Reward with treats if they approach. Don’t get too close to your dog while you actually vacuum.  Just let them observe you and possibly follow you. Be sure to reward your dog with treats and toys after you’re done vacuuming. This will help them associate positive attitudes with vacuuming.

Training your dog to be calm and confident around a vacuum cleaner can initially be a daunting task, especially if you’re not already part of the Sit Means Sit training family, but it is not impossible! Just remember to always be patient and calm. Your dog always takes cues from your words and body language. Always interact with wanted behavior. Do not coddle your dog when they over reactive to things. This just reinforces that behavior, so be mindful to interact with wanted behaviors while allowing your dog time to problem solve and gain confidence. Stay positive and good luck!

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