Dogs have a very strong sense of smell and hearing. They can hear noises further away than what humans are capable of.
Your dog’s sense of smell does not stop just because you are inside. When outdoors, a dog will see trees and possibly neighbor dogs. They will see birds flying above them, wind whistling through the trees, and blowing leaves around.
None of those things will frighten your dog, but oh my gosh, does she ever freak out when you bring the vacuum out to clean the floors. To many, it may seem like very strange behavior for your big and burly guard dog.
To be able to understand this phobia that most dogs face when they see a vacuum cleaner, you first need to understand the dog’s behavior and why they do what they do.
Your dog is your protector. He or she will protect you and your family with their very lives if it comes down to that.
I am sure that we have all witnessed our dog’s behavior when there happens to be another animal around. They can go from the sweet and playful dog into the snarling, mean-looking beast that nothing will get past.
Just the other day we watched this happen to our old Labrador. New neighbors and their new dogs, you know what happens. Their dogs came to our yard, they looked as though they were friendly and playful pups.
They looked like they were trying to say hello to all of us outside. One of those dogs bumped into the youngest child and that is all it took to see a beast emerge where my sweet old dog had been. Her behavior was nothing short of frightening.
We did manage to separate all the animals with no damage to anyone of them or us. Like many other families, we saw how much our dog would do to protect us.
The mean machine
After witnessing this action, we then see this same dog run to where she can hide if we pull the vacuum out of the closet. Just the sight of this machine can scare dogs. This is partly due to the fact that the dog has no idea what this is.
Even if it is something the dog sees daily. So it may look familiar, but it is not friendly. This thing seems to be chasing her, it makes a very loud noise and it smells different. This brings us back to a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing.
First off, that sound is louder than what she is used to hearing. Even with little kids around, they are not as loud as this thing that chases her.
You may not be able to smell anything from your vacuum unless you have one of those fragrance things to send a pleasant smell wherever your vacuum. To a dog, they smell dog scent, from the hair that has been vacuumed.
That mixed with the dirt, crumbs, and anything else that has been picked up by the vacuum. These are all very odd smells when combined.
Socializing for the dog
As silly as it may sound, a dog needs to familiarize themselves with all objects. It is definitely best to begin the process when the dog is a puppy, but that is not always possible.
We got our dog after she was already an adult and had been through an intense trauma of some sort herself. There was no chance to reacquaint her with something as innocent as a vacuum.
Now we come up with ways to help this situation. To begin, keep the vacuum where the dog is able to see it. Preferably someplace where she has to walk past it to either go to her bed or to go outside.
The more often that she sees this mean machine, the more she will get used to it. It may help to randomly place a treat on the vacuum that she will smell. She will need to somewhat interact with the machine to obtain that treat.
There is no way to acclimate a dog to all noises that they may come across during their years with us as family. I had recently read an article that gave me an idea.
I purchased one of those robot type vacuums. The type that runs on its own and supposedly cleans the floors. At first, the dog was afraid of this machine also. I ran it off and on when I was home and at times when I left home.
Yes, it became an acceptable object. She was still leery about it but could deal with it. So the challenge was to see what I could do to help her with the vacuum more than just simply accepting it. I kept the door closed to the room she sleeps in, with the knowledge she could not run to it.
I placed the vacuum in the living room and placed a treat on it. I left the room for a few minutes, when I returned she had eaten the treat. So I turned on the vacuum, placed another treat on it, and walked out of the room again.
She did not go for it this time. So I sat on the floor next to the vacuum and took the treat into my hand and called the dog over. While she was laying down and I was holding her and rubbing her head, I turned the vacuum on.
There were a slight struggle and a few more treats, but dealing with the vacuum is easier now.
If it turns out that the dog and vacuum will not get along, it is best to put the dog outside or in a separate room as you are vacuuming.
The fear your dog exhibits could be from previous experience. It may be that she was too close to the vacuum and got hurt, or the noise hurt her sense of hearing.
All it would take is one bad experience to terrify your dog into this type of phobia. Contrary to this big bad dog that is completely able to protect her family from three other dogs at one time, she is unable to stare down or frighten this machine away.
When you need to vacuum, give your dog praise and take her to an outdoor space or into a closed room so she sees you will not purposely hurt her.