Having to hoover up is tedious enough (for most people - not clean freaks like us) without having a dog trying to attack the very thing that’s making the room more liveable for both you and them. It’s pretty obvious that the dog doesn’t understand the purpose of a vacuum cleaner. When you think of it from the dog’s point of view, it’s a big, noisy thing coming from our hand and gliding all over his/her floor, that only comes out once in a while or when they've done something extra messy (like chew up things into tiny little pieces - as you’ll see in the video down below).
You’d think after seeing the vacuum cleaner numerous times and no harm coming from it, that your dog would calm down after a while, but every time they’re kicking off! So what is it about vacuum cleaners that send dogs into extras from Green Street? Let’s take a look:
Firstly, it’s important to note that not all dogs are afraid of vacuum cleaners and some are more fearful than others. Some dogs with see the loud machine as a threat and decide to challenge it, whereas some may run away and hide, and some won’t care at all.
One of the reasons why dogs act a certain way in the presence of a vacuum cleaner is down to genes, believe it or not. Studies show that dogs with parents that are fearful of vacuum cleaners are significantly more likely to be fearful also, compared to offspring of dogs who weren’t so fearful.
The second, and perhaps more popular, reason is that they haven’t been exposed to a vacuum cleaner from a young age, which makes the fear worse. Studies have shown that a dog can be desensitised to vacuum cleaners when they have been exposed to them at around 4 weeks old, allowing them to become acclimatised to the noise and behaviour of a hoover.
But don’t worry if you think it’s too late! There are ways to desensitise your dog to the effects of the vacuum cleaner and make your life just that little bit easier (unfortunately, we won’t be able to get them to do the vacuuming for you - you’re by yourself on that one).
Step 1: Get the Vacuum Cleaner (and the treats) Out - place the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the room and just leave it there. Don’t turn it on just yet - we don’t want to set them up for failure, so baby steps are needed. Reward your dog for not acting aggressively towards the hoover, but being around it and getting near it. The end goal here is for the dog to be totally comfortable in the presence of the vacuum cleaner. This will often culminate in your dog lying down next to it.
Step 2: Move the Vacuum Cleaner Slightly - again, make sure you don’t go too far and set your dog up for failure. Every time you move the vacuum and your dog doesn’t react aggressively, reward them with a treat. From there, you can start to move it more and more until you’re satisfied the dog is comfortable with the vacuum cleaner when it’s making no noise
Step 3: Turn it on and off - After every short burst of noise, reward your dog for not reacting. Every time they pass the test, increase the amount of time the vacuum is left on. Eventually, you’ll be able to leave the vacuum cleaner on for a length of time whilst it is stationary and your dog should still feel comfortable.
Step 4: Start Hoovering - move very slowly at first, taking the vacuum in one hand and treats in the other. As the dog remains calm, give them a treat. Soon, you should be able to move freely with the vacuum and your dog will be fine. They may be inquisitive at first, but that’s perfect. You want your dog to be comfortable and calmly inquisitive rather than running away or towards the vacuum out of fear of a threat.
Job done! You can now vacuum in peace. We’ll be trying these techniques out on Heidi very soon, so keep your eyes peeled! This is what she’s like now, aged 4 months: