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Is Your Dog Afraid of the Vacuum? These Tips Can Help

Vacuuming may not be your favorite task, and it can become all the more grueling if you need to deal with a nervous or terrified dog every time you do it. If the vacuum sends your pet into a tailspin, don’t worry, you are not alone. There are several reasons for the animosity dogs have towards vacuum cleaners. Noise aversion, a dislike for unanticipated loud noises, is common among dogs, which also explains why so many of them hate fireworks and thunderstorms.

Vacuums can seem even scarier to some dogs than fireworks or other loud noises because it's so closeby. Moreover, the vacuum cleaner drifts along the floor erratically, and your dog might not even realize that you’re actually controlling the machine. 

“The sudden onset of loud noise and strong vibration will startle most dogs and scare them. Their instinct is to get away from it before it eats them,” veterinarian Dr. Diane Levitan told Reader’s Digest. “It also moves around in a ‘threatening way’ and is often near their beloved pet owner, whom they want to protect.”

No one wants to scare or upset their dog, but of course, to stop using vacuum cleaners altogether isn’t a viable option either. So how can this problem be solved? Here are a few steps you can take to train your dog and stop them from panicking every time you turn the vacuum on. 

Related: 10 Surprising and Effective Dog Training Tips!

1. Store the vacuum in an open area How to Eliminate Your Dog’s Fear of the Vacuum, cleaner

When the vacuum isn’t in use, place it where the dog can easily see it, rather than a cupboard. Being around the vacuum while it is not making noise should help your pet view the cleaner as something other than a threat.

An important thing to remember is to never place the vacuum where your dog likes to sleep or eat. This can scare them off from those areas, causing further problems.

2. Allow the dog to investigateHow to Eliminate Your Dog’s Fear of the Vacuum, dog snuffs vacuum

Move the machine to where your dog is sitting while it’s turned off and allow the dog to take a closer look and smell it. The scent is crucial to animals, and when they are accustomed to the smell of the vacuum, they will naturally relax. 

To make the scent more familiar and comforting for the dog, you can rub the dog with a towel and then rub the same towel up, down, and around the vacuum cleaner. If your dog smells himself on the vacuum cleaner, he will be less likely to run from it. 

3. Bring in the snacksHow to Eliminate Your Dog’s Fear of the Vacuum, dog given snacks

If your dog’s vacuum phobia is so severe that they get tense when you move the machine towards them, you can make them associate the sight of the machine with treats. It has been proven that dogs can be taught to make lasting and valuable habits through associations.

While you slowly roll the machine towards your pet, have a family member or a friend reward him with treats and encouraging words. It might take longer for some dogs to get comfortable with the machine, so it’s important to be consistent and have patience.

Related: Got an Old Dog? Here's How You Can Properly Care For It!

4. Noise, reward, and repeatHow to Eliminate Your Dog’s Fear of the Vacuum, woman cleaning with dog in the room

In order to make your four-legged friend comfortable with the noise of the vacuum cleaner, you need to introduce it slowly in conjunction with a reward. This step might require two people, so recruit another family member or a friend. 

Start by running the vacuum behind a closed or slightly cracked door that separates your dog from the vacuum. While your friend starts to vacuum, immediately reward your furry pal with a treat and a compliment.

Continue this process occasionally for a few weeks. Once your dog gets comfortable with the muffled sound of the vacuum cleaner, open the door wider and wider, exposing more and more of the vacuum’s full sound each day.

By simultaneously feeding your dog and running the vacuum, you will teach your dog to think of food when he hears the sound of the vacuum. This will reduce his vacuum cleaner fear. Eventually, your dog will get used to the sound.

Share these tips with the dog owners you know

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