Introducing your Dog to Vacuum Cleaners
Like most people, you probably vacuum your home a few times a week to keep it as dust-free as possible. However, you have recently added a new member to your household, in the form of a cute little puppy, who seems to be petrified of your cleaner. What can you do to make your four-legged fur child understand that the vacuum cleaner is safe, and will not harm him/her in any way?
Why are some dogs scared of vacuum cleaners?
Unlike humans, some dogs find these devices loud and threatening, and will even attack the machine as soon as you switch it on, which can be frustrating to many pet owners.
Following are a few useful hints and tips on how to introduce your dog to your vacuum cleaner, that will make keeping your home dirt and dust free, a pleasant experience for both you and your dog.
Remember, it won’t happen overnight!
Your aim is to help your dog develop new reactions to your vacuum, so use positive training methods rather than punishment or scolding, which will only aggravate the issue. Start training your dog by using the cleaner at a distance instead of right next to him/her, which is obviously upsetting to them. Don’t rush, but work at your dog’s own pace, until he/she recognises that the machine will not cause any harm.
Have a friend or family member help you with the training, and make sure to have some tasty treats ready to offer your pooch, together with praise, every time he/she does something right!
How to introduce your dog to your vacuum cleaner
Exposing your dog to your cleaner should be a deliberate action, and if you have a puppy, start as soon as possible.
Step 1. Do not switch the vacuum on – bring your vacuum cleaner out and allow your dog to inspect it at his/her own pace, without forcing him/her to do so, give praise with a treat as soon as your dog shows any interest in the cleaner, even if it is from the other side of the room.
Step 2. Move the vacuum cleaner – the next step is to let your dog see that the cleaner can move, but without turning it on. Give your dog a treat as you do this, but do it at a distance, where your dog is sitting/standing comfortably. This could be in another part of the house or apartment, for some dogs, while for others, it could be in the same room – the important thing is to reward or praise your dog.
Step 3. Turn your vacuum on – once your dog is comfortable when you move your vacuum around when it is off, then the next step is to turn it on. Make sure your dog is at a distance when you do this and have plenty of treats ready! Praise your dog and offer treats when you turn it on every time.
Vacuum cleaning training sessions with your dog should be kept short, and be a fun, and interesting experience with plenty of praise and tasty treats!
The whole idea is to work at your dog’s pace to build trust in you and eventually be comfortable around the vacuum cleaner.
If your dog starts getting agitated and reacts by lunging, barking, running away, or showing any other stress-related behaviour that you are trying to avoid, then it means you have taken things too fast. This is a good time to take a break!
Let your dog stay at a distance that he/she is comfortable with and try again at your next training session. You can always call in the help of a dog trainer if you are having problems with this.
It’s alright to take a break from training!
There will be days when you just don’t have the time to vacuum your home and train your dog, and that’s perfectly alright. On those days, put your dog in a part of your home where you won’t be using the vacuum cleaner. Give him/her a safe chew toy, or a toy stuffed with treats or peanut butter, not only to distract your dog from the noise of your cleaner, but also to help your dog associate something good with the sound of your vacuum cleaner in the distance.
You could also arrange with someone to take your dog for a walk while you are busy with your cleaner.
The bottom line
Give your dog or new puppy a chance to be successful by letting him/her take a day off sometimes, from not having to get used to the cleaner or its sounds.
If you have children, don’t let them tease or chase your dog with the vacuum cleaner, as it will only make your dog even more afraid of the machine, and reduce your chances to zero, of training your dog to accept the cleaner in your home.