Vaccuum Cleaners and Anxiety

Share your favorite training tips, ideas and methods with other Positively members!

Moderators:emmabeth, BoardHost

Post Reply
Joined:Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:23 pm
Vaccuum Cleaners and Anxiety

Post by SanShou » Mon May 02, 2011 4:15 pm

Hi All,

I have a approximately 3 year old female German Shepherd that I have had for about 2 years. I have already posted on her anxiety issues with people in the house which currently is still an issue but we are working on it. She gets plenty of exercise (usually a good long run in the morning and about an hour of walking at night) and we do a lot of both trick training and attention training that was recommended by my current trainer. She is showing great improvement in her confidence outside the house with dogs and bicycles with a few exceptions.

However now it is time to address the vaccuum cleaner issue because I know she is totally freaked out by it. When I bring it up from the basement, she starts to whine dramtically and when I start it she begins her war by snipping at it while I am vaccuuming. I basically have to send her to a seperate room while I am running it. I am pretty sure that it is a noise issue as she does not react the same way to the carpet steam cleaner that I have and they look the same. The carpet cleaner has a deeper sound and I think that helps. (NOTE: I actually think that her fear of bicycles might also be somewhat triggered by the same sound issue, as after some BAT training she is fine with most bikes except the ones with squeaky wheels, squeaky brakes, or ones that she doesn't see coming.) I am not sure if it is the pitched sound issue or a learned sound issue, since when I first adopted her, she would go off when any car door was closed outside the house. Luckily it was easier to cure her of that than I thought.

Any ideas? I don't find it funny to torture my dog whil vaccuuming either by locking her away or her defending herself against a percieved enemy.


Joined:Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:35 pm

Re: Vaccuum Cleaners and Anxiety

Post by jakesmom » Mon May 02, 2011 5:11 pm

Hi SanShou

None of my pets have ever been frightened of the vacumm, just as well the amount of time I spend using them.

But, that being said, my dalmation who is 11 years old doesn't like the new one we had recently, because the air that is blown out of the vacumm comes out the front of the machine and hits her full in the face. All my other vacumms blow the air out from the rear of the machine. Could it be anything to do with that?

Otherwise the only thing I can suggest, it to leave the unplugged vacumm where she can see it, and only when she doesn't react to it, try pushing it around the room still unplugged. Once she is alright with that, try switching it on but not pushing it around. If she becomes ok with that, then you try using it properly.

Or, if you think it's the sound, could you borrow someone else's with a different sound and see if that makes any difference.

Good Luck

Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm

Re: Vaccuum Cleaners and Anxiety

Post by runlip » Mon May 02, 2011 8:22 pm

My dog acts the same when the vacuum is on. While I am using the vacum I throw treats into another room away from the vacuum that seemed to help him... after a while he was busy looking for treats instead of barking at the vacuum. Hope it can work for you

User avatar
Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Vaccuum Cleaners and Anxiety

Post by Nettle » Tue May 03, 2011 3:03 am

Vaccuum cleaners have a range of noises outside the human hearing range that can really freak out some dogs. When I was a toddler, I could hear in this range and used to run out of the house screaming when Mother vaccuumed. The noise caused me actual physical pain. It probably does the same with your dog.

I'd say leave your dog in another room with the radio on, or outside if you have a safe area, while you vaccuum. Or if someone else can take her for a walk, do it then.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog


Post Reply