One of the most unpleasant chores people must do is mowing your lawn. Add that to the already loud sound of a barking and frantic dog and you have got yourself a perfect recipe for making you lose your cool. Well, if you think the problem is unique to you, we have some news. No, it is not. Dogs seem to just universally dislike lawn mowers. To them, it is one of the monsters in their nightmares that has come to life. You want your yard clean and you want to be able to mow your lawn in peace. How do you do this when your dog attacks your lawn mower every time you turn it on?
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The Root of the Behavior
We, humans, are rational beings. We can see things, examine them, understand them, and react to them. We have superior intelligence compared to dogs, most of the time, at least. They do not have a concept of what a lawnmower is. Put yourself in their shoes and you will be able to understand why they fear and attack these large and loud contraptions. Lawnmowers are big, loud, and sometimes, they can seem very threatening. When they see their humans operating it, dogs may think that their humans are wrestling or fighting with it. Because your lawnmower is loud and threatening, dogs attack it. There are even some breeds of herding dogs which may try to round it up. However, there are some canines that are not affected by lawnmowers at all. This fear of lawn mowers can be inherent, but it can also be brought about by a previous, traumatic event in a dog’s life when he was younger. Typically, a dog that is afraid of lawnmowers is also afraid of thunderstorms.
There are four stages of fear and they are fight, flight, freeze, and submit. Most dogs will either use their fight or flight response when they see a lawnmower. The most classic reaction of dogs is fight as they often growl, bark, lunge, bite, and circle around the machine. The other reaction is flight as they look for the closest escape route. They sweat, pant heavily, shake, their pupils dilate, and they may have an increased heart rate. These two reactions may seem opposed to each other but they are actually on the same continuum. One of the simplest things one can do in order to avoid this situation is to hire a professional to mow your lawn. There will be no barking and no hassle for you, but this is not the most effective thing to do to address the issue.
Encouraging the Behavior
It is important to desensitize your fearful dog so that he can coexist peacefully with your lawnmower. After all, you need both. You need your lawnmower to help to tidy the yard after your dog has had his way with it. You must show your dog that there is no need to fear the lawnmower. Desensitizing will take several sessions so you need to make time for it. Also, it is good to observe how far away your dog is before he starts becoming scared of the lawnmower. This is an important threshold which you need to know. It is recommended to stay outside the threshold so that he can see the lawnmower without being overtaken by his fears.
You can start discouraging this fear of lawnmowers by taking your dog out for a walk in the neighborhood or around parks where people are mowing and have lots of tasty treats handy or bring your dog’s favorite toy. Give your dog a treat when he is brave enough to be close to the lawnmower. Over time you will be able to get close to it and even walk right by one without any problem. You have done a good job if you can get your dog to be with your lawnmower for at least five minutes.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Prevent your dog from fixating on his fears. It is your goal to for him to be able to see lawnmowers but if he starts watching it too long, you should interrupt it by asking him to come to you. Prolonged stares can lead to advanced fears. Use techniques that will teach your dog to focus on you even when the lawnmower is there. You want your dog to re-associate this “scary” thing with good things such as yummy treats and their favorite toy. If you are patient and consistent and you make the effort, you will be able to have a dog that gets along well with your loud cleaning machine.
Having a dog that constantly barks and lunges at your lawnmower is a very big problem. You want to be able to take care of your yard without your dog thinking and feeling that his life is in jeopardy. Train your dog and slowly get him acquainted with the devices at home. Reassure him that he is in good hands and that he can coexist with your lawnmower.