The Root of the Behavior
When we pull out the vacuum and plug it in to the wall, the noise that turns on can be a bit annoying. Your vacuum is large, moves in an odd way, and makes a growling noise that can be threatening to your animal. It’s no wonder that your dog may fear your vacuum. There may be a few reasons as to why the vacuum feels so detrimental to your animal, beyond the typical looks and sounds that seem scary. When your dog is a puppy, they are timid and trying to adjust to this world. If they are not exposed at a young age to a vacuum, adjusting to the noise and structure of the machine can be unknown, scary, and difficult. They also may have had a bad experience with the vacuum when they were young. Dogs that are afraid of vacuum cleaners may also be afraid of other things that are loud such as thunderstorms or lawn mowers. Yet, vacuums in particular can be frightful because your dog feels trapped in the same room with the vacuum, and they may also want to protect their owner.
Dogs may also want to chase and attack vacuums, as if it is an object to play with. Vacuums bring out an instinct in dogs, as they may feel like the machine replicates cattle that they are supposed to chase. Other moving objects like lawn mowers and bicycles can bring this out in your animal, too. If your dog does not fear the vacuum or if they tend to not play with it, that is perfectly normal. Some dogs will not react to vacuum cleaners at all, even though the moving object could trigger a fear or an instinct to play. Understanding that vacuums can feel like another animal or something that seems threatening can help you better handle your dog. Desensitizing your dog and helping them understand that they are safe when a vacuum is around, and even implementing a system where your dog begins to be comfortable with a vacuum is important.
Encouraging the Behavior
Reacting to the vacuum in a negative way is perfectly normal for dogs. It is also normal for them to be instinctive and want to play with the vacuum, as if the vacuum is something other than a machine. Most owners do not want their animal afraid of the vacuum and they do not want their dog acting in odd ways when they use it. It may make it difficult on the dog and on the process of cleaning. Therefore, this behavior of not liking the vacuum is usually not something that should be encouraged. If you never use a vacuum or if it does not bother your animal, there may be no reason to even worry about the behavior. Yet, it may be wise to encourage them to remain calm when the vacuum is on. At first this may be difficult, but soon enough, they will adjust. Giving your dog a treat when the vacuum is off, on, and when it is moving can help your dog know that they are okay around the machine. The encouragement that is suggested for dogs is to show them that they are loved and safe around you and around the household items you use.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Just as you socialize your animal to humans and other animals, socializing your dog with items they may fear can help them. Some animals are more sensitive than others and things such as vacuums, car engines, and even thunderstorms can give them anxiety, making them feel as if they are in danger. Letting your dog have positive experiences around the vacuum and even making it a fun and inviting experience for them will assist them in understanding the purpose of a vacuum, why it makes noises and moves the way it does, and how you and their safety is promised. Using toys, treats, or encouragement can help this process go smoothly.
If you stand face to face with a vacuum and are completely unsure as to what it does, it could come across as a monster that is ready to attack. Animals are sensitive and as our companions, they want to keep us safe as well as their environment. It is our job to ensure they feel safe, well, and happy in all their endeavors.