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Why Are Dogs Scared of Vacuum Cleaners?

Written by Adaptil, published on 20 March 2020

We all have lots to adjust to and experience in today’s busy modern life! This is true for your dog as well as you - from new people, to new surroundings, smells, appliances and noises, there’s a lot of different sensations for your pet to adjust to. And while your dog may be a little nervous around new sounds, smells and experiences at first, once they know what to expect they should be much more confident!

But what about unexpected noise? Dogs have a very acute sense of hearing and can hear someone walking up your path before they even knock on the door, or hear a car door close outside and know that someone is visiting. This is great, particularly if they help deter unwanted visitors, but some noisy things such as appliances - washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners (hoovers) - can cause a stronger reaction from your pooch, like barking, shaking or even hiding as if they are scared.

Why are vacuum cleaners Scary for Dogs?

Firstly, we must remember that dogs can hear different frequencies to humans, so what might sound normal to us can sound sharper and louder to canine ears.

So when your dog is having a calm time at home, and is used to the regular sounds of the house, it can be a big surprise when a very loud vacuum cleaner, that isn’t an everyday sound, springs into action! Even more confusing, this very loud, unusual thing will seem to run around their safe, quiet home - and is being pushed around by a person they trust!

The sounds, movement and unexpected nature of vacuuming can cause dogs to become uncertain, fearful and even territorial toward the vacuum cleaner, and as a result you may see nervous or stressed behaviours.

Vacuum Cleaners and Dogs 1

What are the signs of a scared Dog?

It’s expected that most dogs will react in some way to the sound or sight of vacuuming, particularly with their first encounter with a vacuum cleaner. If your dog is afraid, they may start barking incessantly, drooling, crouching down, retreating or they may even try to attack the vacuum cleaner in an effort to defend themselves from this strange object that seems to be invading their space.

Unfortunately, this can worsen over time if you don’t take action to help your dog adjust to the noise your vacuum cleaner makes.

What Can I Do To Help my Dog?

There are ways that you can help your pooch settle, or at least accept that your vacuum cleaner has an occasional place in your home too.

  • Importantly, never chase your dog with the vacuum cleaner. This will make things much worse and confuse and scare your pooch.
  • Try to keep your dog in a separate room to the space you need to vacuum in. Before you start vacuuming, give your dog a safe place to retreat to, like another room or a different part of the house.
  • Introduce your pet to the vacuum cleaner without turning it on. It may help to reduce some fear if they get used to the smell and presence of the vacuum in the house.
  • As your pet may still be nervous of the vacuum sound, even if they can’t see it, gradually work to desensitise them by turning the vacuum on at a distance and clean in the opposite direction to the dog so they don’t feel they are being attacked. With time, they may gradually learn to tolerate it!
  • If it seems that your dog is scared of other noises too, such as traffic or a dishwasher, consider training your pet to help them adapt to different sounds and noises. You could play traffic noise, vacuuming noises and even music at very low volumes at first, then gradually increase the volume over time until your pet is able to stay calm even when faced with loud sounds. Throughout any noise training programme, remember to reassure your pet and reward them for calm behaviour when you turn the volume up. If they react negatively at any point, turn the volume down and stop. You can always try again another time!
  • When your dog is afraid, they want to find a familiar space where they can feel safe. So be sure they have somewhere to go when they can hear noises they don’t like. This might be their crate or bed or a place with all their favourite toys and belongings.

Using ADAPTIL can also help to support your dog and enable them to cope with the stresses of modern life. An ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser, plugged into the room where your dog spends the most time, can create a calm environment and help them stay confident and in control in stressful situations, such as when they are home alone, when you have visitors - or around unexpected noise.


Adaptil Calm Diffuser

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