Does your dog bark at the hoover? Are they scared of the vacuum? We’re here to share our tips and tricks for helping your dog to feel relaxed around the vacuum and remain calm while you’re doing the housework… no more chasing, attacking, playing or running away from it.
Without further ado, let’s get into how you can help your dog to overcome their fears and feel positive about the vacuum being out!
First of all we want to create a positive association with the vacuum just being in the room – all you need to do is bring the vacuum out (whilst the dog is not present) and leave it – unplugged – somewhere in the room.
Placing their favourite treat or toys near to the vacuum will give your dog the opportunity to come up and explore the area around the vacuum without forcing them to do so. At no point do we lead our dog over to the hoover – we just let them investigate on their own terms, allowing them to acknowledge that every time they go towards the vacuum they will find good stuff! Every couple of days, again while your dog is out of the room, move the vacuum around to a new area, making sure your dog gets used to it in multiple places, not just stuck in the same place.
When your dog has got used to the vacuum simply being out and acknowledging that it is not harmful – we’ll start to move it around and play around with its features, without turning it on. You can do this by just moving it around on its wheels, by sliding the adjustments up or down, or taking out the nozzle hose.
As you move the hoover around in slow motion, throw treats away from it – this means your dog can receive good stuff without even having to approach the moving vacuum. Any time your dog is relaxed whilst you are doing this movement, give them a jackpot (multiple treat) reward!
The next step is going to be turning on the vacuum. This bit can come across quite scary with the noise and the suction of the vacuum – but we’re here to help our dogs understand that there is really nothing to be worried about!
As you start to turn on the vacuum, let’s again use those treats (or toys) thrown at a distance to help our dogs feel comfortable about it. If at any point you feel your dog looks really scared, turn the vacuum off straight away. We’re only turning it on for a few seconds at a time at this stage – we will build this up slowly until we see our dogs feeling comfortable with it on for a couple of minutes.
Once your dog is happy and relaxed with the hoover being switched on, you can now start to add movement to the vacuum whilst it is still turned on. At the start you are going to want to switch the hoover on and then just slowly move it around – if at any point your dog freaks out, don’t panic… take a couple of day’s break and then go back a step and try again. We want to ensure that our dogs feel comfortable around the vacuum, never seeing it as a threat. By throwing treats down whilst the vacuum is on, this will hopefully take your dog’s mind completely off it being on – if your dog is still scared just throw multiple treats away from the vacuum and slowly pull the vacuum away from your dog, turning it off as soon as possible.
After your dog has nailed both movement and sounds, we are going to add in the last thing that could cause your dog some fear. The long hoover nozzle could make your dog think you’re using your hands in a motion towards them – plus that sucking motion is raised up in the air now. The easiest way to do this is by keeping movement to a minimum at the start – this could be you getting the nozzle out and keeping it still whilst the vacuum is on. Then we are going to build up moving the nozzle ever so slightly to make it look more as it would whilst we are using the vacuum.
As your dog starts to look more comfortable as the vacuum is being used – we can start to add distance from our dog by teaching them something like a “send to bed” exercise – in this exercise you will be able to help your dog to settle in a specific place whilst you get on with the household chores. This not only gives your dog the permission of moving away from the vacuum, creating more space for them to feel relaxed, it also means your dog now has a job to do – so it’s moving from “feeling” mode into “thinking” mode.
If you liked this training and would like to see a step-by-step in action make sure you visit our YouTube channel.
We hope this has helped your dog feel better about the vacuum – so they no longer need to bark while you clean! We have a (Free) Facebook group with many more tips like this if you need more help to support your dog. Come over and join us at facebook.com/groups/connectwithyourdog.
Just one last thing, if your dog barks at other items such as the mop or even the lawnmower – you can use the same techniques as we show here for the hoover. This is also a great way to introduce your new puppy to new household items and situations in a positive way to build confidence! You can find more support for your puppy at Barketplace.uk/puppy.