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Pet Peeves: The Monster Inside the Vacuum Cleaner...

Q: My dog is terrified of the vacuum cleaner. He comes up really close as if he's going to bite it, then backs up quickly with his mouth still open. Although it does make a chore more entertaining, I wonder if he truly thinks he is rescuing me from a monster. How can I help him adjust so I can vacuum without feeling like I am torturing him subconsciously?

A: There is much speculation about pets' reactions to the vacuum cleaner. Some behave as if the world is ending and others barely bat an eye. But, unless pets can suddenly speak, we'll have to focus on a solution regardless of the problem's origin. First, gauge whether it's the sound or movement that bothers him more. Put a treat on the vacuum while it's off and encourage him to eat it. Next, do the same thing but move the vacuum around (still off), stopping to let the dog get the treats. If he's fine with both of those, continue by turning the vacuum on, placing treats on it, but not moving it. You should remain near the vacuum through this whole process, bending down on your pet's level and talking in a calm, reassuring voice. Yelling "no" or "stop" while he is barking at the vacuum will likely stress him out even more. Repeat this process with lots of praise and rewards. Eventually, your pup (or cat) should become desensitized.

And now I wanna hear from you! To learn how to post your own solutions (or challenges) in my new group, "Pet Peeves,"

I know that this long list looks scary, but trust me, once you get the hang of it, it'll be a snap the second time around.

  1. First of all, join the Pet Peeves
  2. Click the pink "Share" menu on the top left side of the page
  3. Choose "Blog" and “Regular Post”
  4. Give your story a Title
  5. Fill in the “Body” with a picture of your pet and some fun facts about him or her.
  6. Click “Next"
  7. Choose the audience for your story to “Pet Peeves” in the drop down menu
  8. Add keyword(s) (for example mine for this post was "Pet Peeves")
  9. Change channel to “Pets”
  10. Fill in tag field with relevant tags
  11. Click “I’m done” to submit content

So join the Pet Peeves and start sharing questions and concerns. Who knows, your problem (or solution) might make it on to the PetSugar homepage!


Join The Conversation
DejaVecu DejaVecu 9 years
My cat sees it and runs. I wait til she leaves the room. I'm not going to force her to make friends with it. I just wait until she leaves each room, it doesn't add any extra time. Soon, all the floors will be bare wood anyway...then she can have loads of fun attacking the Swiffer.
miemki miemki 9 years
My dog hides under the bed and growls at it.
i-am-elle i-am-elle 9 years
My dog used to freak out everytime we vaccuumed. He's gone now, but thinking about it still makes me smile.
Tnkrbelli Tnkrbelli 9 years
My dog doesn't stress out about anything, so it's definitely not a matter of stress. He tries to play with it.
Tnkrbelli Tnkrbelli 9 years
My dog Dudley does the EXACT same thing! I think he doesn't like that it's getting rid of his smell on the carpet. He also thinks of it as an invader, I think. I don't think my dog is scared of the vacuum as much as he is annoyed by it! It does make it more fun to vacuum b/c he's hilarious when he reacts to it.
chancleta chancleta 9 years
i don't think any dog digs the vaccum mine always freaks out thinking the vaccum monster is going to eat his stuffed animals
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
My cats aren't really phased by this.
PJ-PJ-PJ PJ-PJ-PJ 9 years
My lab was never able to get over her vacuum fear. When I would vacuum the living room, she would run in terror, back & forth between every doorway that was connected to the room. She never would just stay in one of the rooms, so we always had to put her in our bedroom & shut the door until we were finished. I don't know what it was about the vacuum that made her lose her ability to think straight, poor girl. It was pitiful.
FB1977 FB1977 9 years
Our Yorkie is terrified of the vacuum too, and she will cower in fear and/or bark. I'll have try these tips.
nikodarling nikodarling 9 years
Both my dogs and my cat eventually got used to it. I think if your pet has anxiety about something staying calm and not reacting to their stress is the most important thing.
allymaedesign allymaedesign 9 years
my pup reacts the same way. I will try this-- hopefully it works.
alillee alillee 9 years
Thanks for the advice! My puppy acts like the vacuum is his sworn enemy...even the push vacuum that doesn't make any noise. Maybe this will help him get over his fear!
htfontenot0224 htfontenot0224 9 years
I have three chihuahuas and two of them will try to attack the vacuum after I turn it on. I think is more of the sound that bothers them than the vacuum itself. I usually just put them in another room and give them a treat when I'm finished.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
My kitty is too, but she is slowly coming around. She just needed time to get used to it and figure out it's nto going to kill her, and that it ignores her and is just loud.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
You could also just keep him out of the room you're vacuuming. Is it so important to have him in the room when it stresses him out?
lisafrank lisafrank 9 years
I agree with the pet is similar...but I think its more the movement and the noise is just the precursor. He does the same thing with a broom. Poor guy! :( I hope the treat thing works for you.
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