Dogs and their endless barking at vacuum cleaners depict nothing but a regular cleaning day in a pet owner’s life.
Vacuum cleaning is a tedious job already.
Pair it with your furbaby’s incessant growling and, Alas! Your day is in jeopardy.
To your pup, this sweeping machine is no less than a roaring monster who mercilessly swallows anything that comes in its way.
It may bark, attack, or even gnaw at Mr. Hoover’s body for his atrocious behavior.
So, if you are dealing with a similar situation, this write-up is for you!
Reasons why dogs bark at vacuum cleaners:
1- Noisy Vacuum Cleaners:
Noisy vacuum cleaners are a nuisance to your dog’s ears. Dogs have an impeccable ability to hear sounds that are too loud for our ears.
Humans cannot detect sounds exceeding 20 000 Hz, whereas dogs’ frequency hearing range extends from 67 000 to 45 000 Hz.
Vacuum cleaners produce noise of intensity 70 to 80 Decibels (dB).
And sounds of this intensity, according to Alpine Hearing Protection, are ‘irritating’. Thus, quite understandably, these sounds irk your puppy’s highly sensitive ears and ‘plunge’ him into an unbreakable chain of incessant barking.
2- It’s All In The “Breeds”:
It’s true! The vacuum monster is not always the culprit behind your dog’s barking; sometimes it’s all in the breed, your dog’s breed.
Research has unlocked a link between a dog’s behavior such as aggression or fearfulness and its genes. Thus, some dogs, such as territorial dogs, herders, and fearful ones are naturally predisposed to aggressive behavior because of their genetic makeup.
Territorial dogs like Chihuahua would attack anything they perceive as a potential threat (here, cleaning machine) because of their protective or survival instincts. Chihuahuas behave in this way to protect themselves and their humans from the danger of vacuum cleaners. Thus, these ‘purse puppies’ despite being tiny, are mighty so don’t take them lightly!
Your canine friend chases or barks at the vacuum device to assert its herding instincts. Dogs who have been bred to round up the livestock deem it necessary to herd anything they find unruly. Thus, a ‘disobedient’, back and forth moving vacuum machine drives your Mastiff crazy, shifting him into the “herding mode”.
3- The Fearful dogs:
Some dogs, like Papillons and Beagles, bear a timid personality. Fearful dog breeds are introverts owing to their nature or lack of socialization in their environment.
As a defense mechanism, such dogs may bark at or run away from threatening objects like vacuum cleaners.
Thus, sometimes, it’s not the hoover but your fur-child is just another Courage the Cowardly Dog.
4- Lack Of Exposure To Vacuum Cleaners:
One reason your pup attacks or is afraid of the Swiffer is that it never received exposure to one in the first place. According to PetMD, dogs develop a sound phobia for sounds they find bizarre.
Usually, puppies sourced from pet-stores do not have an encounter with common household sounds. However, good breeders expose young pups to weird sounds of the dishwashers, vacuum devices, or leaf blowers, to avoid discomfort later on.
So, beware! Your angel puppy might turn into a Cujo if he is not used to the sight or sound of the alien vacuum device.
5- Trauma From Vacuum Cleaners:
Your dog’s aversion to vacuum cleaners can suggest a traumatic experience the pup might have gone through in the past. Punishment or torturous beating with vacuum cleaners is the reason dogs develop phobia with these devices.
That explains why a mere sight or sound of a vacuum cleaner is enough to send your pup into a series of frenzied barking.
Out of his protective instincts, your furbaby can’t help but attack his age-old enemy.
Just like anything, vacuum cleaners stink too if not regularly washed. Pet hair and dander mixed with pet urine give off a peculiar stench when accumulated in your vacuum’s dust bag. Since your pup has a legendary sense of smell, the cloud of green smoke hovering around your hoover’s body is unlikely to go unnoticed by his highly sensitive snout. This foul-smelling debris throws your pup into a fit of ferocious growl — perhaps telling you to get rid of that unholy mess!
How To Stop Your Dog from Barking at Vacuum Cleaners?
Here’s how to help your fur-child get along with the vacuum cleaners:
1- Desensitization and Counterconditioning:
The best way to stop your dog from barking at the vacuum cleaner is Desensitization and Counter-conditioning.
Desensitization implies gradually exposing your dog to negative stimuli to make his phobia wear away.
Counter-conditioning is a technique used to convert unwanted behavior into desirable behavior through positive associations.
Simply put, it’s making your dog feel, “Good things happen when the evil vacuum comes out of the closet “
Steps involving Desensitization and Counter-conditioning:
- Take the vacuum cleaner out of the closet and place it in the middle of the room (turned off).
- As your dog barks, pat his back or ruffle his hair. That will make your pup feel at ease.
- Then turn on the vacuum cleaner for a second and quickly turn it off.
- If he barks, command him to keep quiet. When he complies, reward the pup with a treat.
(Repeat the above steps until necessary. Only then, move on to the following)
- Turn on the vacuum again. Move it back and forth (gently) for a moment and then switch off.
- Reward the dog’s calm reaction with some more treats.
That will help your pup develop positive associations with the vacuum cleaner. Slowly, it will see it as a ‘treat-dispenser’ rather than a threat.
2- Find a Helper:
If your dog is enjoying the treats, toss some more around the vacuum device.
Ask your friend to hold your dog’s leash as you clean and your pup enjoys the yummy treats.
3- Let Your Fluffy Play In The Garden:
If training is tedious for you, send your fluffy to the garden to let him play with some cream-filled Kongs and plush toys.
That way, you can finish the cleaning chore with no more barking or assaults on your hoover.
4- Pay Visit to Vet:
If barking still hasn’t subsided, consult a vet. Seek his advice about changing your dog’s behavior or use medicinal alternatives.
The vet might suggest pet pheromones—chemicals used to lower stress hormones in your puppy.
Remember, resort to medications only when it is absolutely necessary.
Otherwise, try altering your pup’s behavior with training and other remedies mentioned in this article.
5- Find some dog buddies:
Dogs who are not used to socializing with other dogs or people develop aggressive traits. They might get frightened around strangers, weird sounds, or get uneasy around other pets.
As a dog-owner, you can make him more accepting of his surroundings by:
- Taking him on walks: Dog walks will expose him to new sounds, people, and other pets. Over time, he will develop familiarity with new objects and surroundings. And who knows? He might find a dog buddy or two in the process. It will take time, but he will surely get there.
- Inviting your friends over: Inviting your friends over can make your dog slowly acclimate with them as gradually exposing to unfamiliar people will make his fears go away.
- Taking him to dog parks: Dog park is a place where dogs meet other dogs. But, entering directly into the park can be overwhelming for your dog. Instead, for the first few days let him watch other dogs in the park from a distance. Then, take him inside and befriend your Labrador with other pets.
6- Play Some Soothing Dog Music:
Play some soothing dog music like sounds of reggae or soft rock on your aux cable, leave your dog in the room with some Kongos and then close the door. While your dog hums to his favorite music, grab the golden opportunity and sweep across your home (except the dog room off course)
Half-done, ‘release’ your dog from the ‘dog room’ and close the door. Finish cleaning the remaining cleaning chore and Voila! You are done!
7- Buy a pet-friendly vacuum cleaner:
As ‘dogs vs vacuum cleaners’ continues to be a common sight in a pet owner’s household, companies like Dyson and Electrolux are engineering pet-friendly vacuum cleaners.
These ‘silent cleaners’ are designed to produce sound levels of 70 dB or lower to protect your innocent Labrador from the torment of blaring sweepers.
So, to have seamless cleaning days, do your puppy and yourself a favor and buy a noiseless cleaner once and for all.
8- Get some mutt-muffs for your puppy:
If you are a parent of young children and can’t afford the hassle of dog training like counter-conditioning, check out some ear muffs for puppies.
The earmuffs are designed to adjust to the contours of your pup’s head while protecting his ears from loud noise.
Although not entirely, earbuds can considerably reduce the background noise, thus making it more bearable for your dog.
Hence, if you want a quick and easier option to prevent your dog from persistent barking at loud vacuum machines, getting some earmuffs does not sound like a bad idea.
Some Words Of Caution:
- Don’t chase your dog with a vacuum’s hose even out of playfulness. Doing that will only further his barking behavior and reinforce his idea of viewing vacuum cleaner as a ‘threat’
- Don’t tie him with a leash when he is overly aggressive and persistently barking. By doing so, you run the risk of becoming a victim of a redirected dog bite. That` is especially true for dogs known for exhibiting aggressive behavior like Pitbull (the most dangerous dog breed having the highest number of dog bites) and German Shepherd.
- It is always best to ask a vet before using anti-bark products such as a head halter on your dog. These products, though designed for dogs, can sometimes feel harsh on their skin.
- It is not advisable to put your dog into a crate when he is in a state of arousal, as he might hit himself against metal bars out of frustration.
The dog is not just intelligent but a very sensitive animal. If your loyal friend is acting weirdly to the sight or sound of household objects like vacuum cleaners or leaf blowers, pay attention.
Your puppy can be just curious, scared, or carrying some emotional baggage. As a pet-parent, the onus is on you to ensure both the physical and mental well-being of your fur child.