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Dog Vacuum Phobia

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  • Dog Vacuum Phobia

    My dog cannot seem to control herself when it comes to barking at and biting the vacuum. I used to scold her for it until I realized that she was legitimately afraid. Now she runs and hides when I'm vacuuming.

    Is there anyway to break her from this? I don't want to send the dog into a panic attack every time I have to clean. Help!
    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
    My equine soulmate
    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

  • #2
    Teach your dog to go to her crate and stay there for a while at different times in the day.
    Maybe give her a special treat that takes a bit to eat at crate time.
    Shut her in there if she doesn't know to stay until released.

    After she is confident there, you can use one of those crate times to vacuum without all that drama.

    My problem is that my little dog has been cleaned with the vacuum and she loves it and keeps running in front of it and turning her back so I vacuum it, again.
    Eventually I have to tell her to go to her bed and she does, so she gets a treat and knows to stay there, if I am vacuuming or not, until released.


    • Original Poster

      She hasn't been crated since she was a puppy (she's now almost 4) but I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to crate train her again. That's a good idea. Thanks
      Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
      My equine soulmate
      Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


      • #4
        So this is completely out of the blue, and I've never tried it. It would probably be pretty messy, but it might do the trick. What if you spread a little peanut butter on the Vacuum Cleaner? Stay away from the sucking parts, etc., but the smooth plastic part on the side might work.


        • #5
          Could she possibly be reacting to the noise rather than to the vacuum itself? Maybe the pitch of the vacuum motor is causing pain in her ears.

          You could try putting cotton balls in her ears to see if it makes any difference in her reaction to the noise.

          Or borrow a different vacuum from someone and see if she has the same reaction to it as she does to yours.

          Just a thought that might be worth exploring.


          • #6
            Is your pup food motivated?

            If so, feed her meals beside the vacuum. Then, feed her when the vacuum is on but not moving. Then, if all goes well feed her while you vacuum around that room. This is a good way for food motivated dogs to "ignore" the problem, and to focus on whats really important (food!). Doesnt work for all dogs, especially if food doesnt trump fear, but it worked great for my dog. She doesnt love it when I vacuum, but she doesnt run and hide anymore.


            • Original Poster

              She is pretty food motivated and not normally fearful (at all!!) so that just might do the trick! She's not afraid of it when it's off and moving around, just when it's on. I think the combination of the noise and the "headlight" freak her out.

              Thanks for the suggestions guys
              Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
              My equine soulmate
              Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


              • #8
                Dani, what a great opportunity to try some desensitization and counter conditioning, as others have described! It will indeed work, providing you break it down so she has many successes, and don't be tempted to go too fast. You start with the noise far enough away, how about turning it on in another room while she eats, and gradually move it closer? Pretty soon she will associate the sound with good things happening. Or turn it on and play with her, far enough away, if she plays ball and will play in the same room with it on, you can gradually throw the ball or toy closer to it. Then maybe while she is comfortable eating with it on right next to her, have her eating while you are across the room, and move it one inch away from her. Teach her to chase small treats you throw, and throw them closer to it. If she eats kibble, you can feed her dinner that way.

                You get the drift. The biggest mistake I've seen people make is to go too quickly, because it is so tempting as the animals respond so well to these techniques.


                • #9
                  you could gradually desensitize the dog to the vacuum- keep in mind you won't be able to actually vacuum for many weeks while you do this. Perhaps it could be done by sending the dog out on walks with someone else while you vacuum? of course, if you can do that, you could just always do that and skip the desensitization part.
                  However, I've never yet met a dog that didn't dislike vacuuming, and/or tried to "attack" the vacuum (usually herding dogs) and I just deal with it by putting the dog outside or in a crate while I vacuum.
                  Some things are worth the time and effort to train- others not so much.


                  • #10
                    I once had someone who was getting a puppy from me request her puppy be desensitized to the vacuum cleaner, as she had had one who was afraid of it (and evidently planned to vacuum regularly, go figure). So with that litter, I vacuumed around the whelping box, and did just a little counter conditioning. That puppy grew to love the vacuum cleaner, and would demand to be vacuumed, she enjoyed the sensation. I had never thought much about it, as I actually prefer to have them get up and leave the room while I vacuum (which is not nearly as I should!) That litter would not move, do you know how hard it is to vacuum around several recumbent wolfhounds?!