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Is your dog afraid of the vacuum?

March 2, 2017

UA- Is your dog afraid of the vacuum

Very few of us actually enjoy vacuuming, an unpleasant necessity that is known to send many of us barking! While we understand this chore has it's place, for our four legged counterparts it's near impossible to fathom the importance of this noisy contraption! Aptly named, my four legged vacuum simply licks the floor when there's something on it, why bother with this scary, colossal, sucking machine!

While some pooches merely sigh and tilt there head at our foolishness, others cower in absolute fear. Why? Where does the fear come from? While many of our human innovations may escape our pets understanding, bear in mind a microwave isn't loud, larger than life and heading straight for them! Not to mention that the vacuum dance we do to reach all those spots, looks more like a wrestling match to our pets.

So while some pets may cower in fear when you fire up the engines and begin to "fight" the vacuum, others may just pull up a chair and watch this ritual with a mild interest. There are also certain breeds of dogs whose herding instinct kicks in when the hoover animal begins to run rampant all over the house, giving cause for them to round it up! Barking, lunging, cowering, whimpering, what ever response you may witness, your pet is obviously reacting to this misunderstood, somewhat unfamiliar stimulant.

 Whether it's an instinctual reaction or an inherited fear from a previous trauma, when it comes to the vacuum, where ever the fear may come from we need to help our friends overcome or get through it. We can do this through desensitising your pet's fear, it is important that you employ patience, desensitising can take multiple sessions and remaining calm throughout the process is imperative.
  • Start by giving your pet a treat when in the same room as the vacuum whilst it's turned off. Continue treating them while moving closer and closer to the vacuum, up to the point where your pet will take the treat directly off the powered-down vacuum.
  • Next begin moving the turned-off vacuum, start slowly, only moving it an inch or two and only treat your pet when they don't react. Eventually begin raising the stakes by moving the vacuum, while off, further and for longer periods of time, continuing to treat your pet so long as they stay calm.

The objective is to get your pet to associate the vacuum with something good, hence the treats. On this journey your first goal is to be able to move the vacuum around the room for five minutes, whilst off, without a negative reaction from your pet.

Eventually you will need to turn on the vacuum, for this stage you will need another pair of hands!

  • Stand with your pet on one side of the room, treats at the ready, have your helper bring the vacuum into the room, turned off.
  • When ready your helper can turn the vacuum on, immediately treat your pet and continue treating while the vacuum is on.
  • After a few seconds turn the vacuum off and immediately stop offering the treats.
  • Continue this process, gradually moving closer to the switched on vacuum. Eventually your pet should look to you, expecting a treat, this is a sign that the positive association is taking effect.

Once  your pet can tolerate the vacuum being on but remaining stationary for five minutes you can begin moving it, starting slowly, moving it only a little initially and gradually increasing distance and duration. Just as you did with the other steps.

 Remember desensitisation can take a long time and may need to be personally tailored to your pet. Discussing the process and different options with your vet are always a good idea. Our staff are always happy to have a chat with you should you have any queries, you can contact us on 5975 3811

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