How to Stop a Dog From Fearing the Vacuum

By Tammy Dray

Does Rover freak out like the world is ending every time you turn on the vacuum cleaner? Or maybe he just gets so excited he keeps attacking the machine the whole time you're trying to get the dust off the floor. Either way, trying to vacuum when there's non-stop barking or whining can be difficult, so maybe it's time to teach Rover that it's OK to relax -- your Dirt Devil isn't literally some devilish machine out to get him.

First of all, try to understand the fear. Many dogs are afraid of the vacuum cleaner because they don't know what it is -- and what it can do to them. Don't rush or push Rover to confront his fear. Instead, give him time to get used to the machine. No screaming at him either. He'll start associating the vacuum with you being upset at him.

Step 1 - Take the vacuum out of storage and put it against a wall in the kitchen or living room -- somewhere where Doggie will see it regularly as he goes through his normal day. If he barks at it or runs away from the room, ignore it. Just leave the vacuum in there until it becomes part of the room and no longer a threat. Once that happens, move it to a different spot -- he'll get used to seeing the vacuum in different areas of the house.

Step 2 - Turn the vacuum on once the mere presence of it doesn't feel so scary anymore. Don't do any vacuuming at the beginning. Just turn it on so Doggie can get used to the sound. If he goes crazy, let the vacuum run and offer Doggie a treat at the same time. The goal is to have him associate the sound of the vacuum cleaner with positive things, such as a yummy treat.

Step 3 - Start moving the vacuum a bit at a time once the sound has become familiar. Always move away from Doggie when vacuuming -- never towards him. Don't give him any reason to think the vacuum is attacking him. If the barking gets out of control, stop moving, ask Doggie to sit and offer a threat. When he calms down, restart the vacuuming.

Pooch Panic Room

Always give your pup a safe room to flee to if he's scared of the vacuum. The room should be somewhere that’s typically far away and insulated from the noise. That might be a room at the end of a hallway or the bathroom upstairs. When you need to vacuum that room, shut the vacuum off and give your pup a chance to venture out on his own. When he does, move the vacuum into the room. You don't want to force him out with the noise of the vacuum.

By Tammy Dray

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About the Author

Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.