You know your pet would do anything for you. It's like your furry friend is your four-legged hero. But, like every hero, your dog or cat has an archnemesis that's loud, scary, and tries to suck up everything they love. It's your vacuum. It’s hard to picture a world where your pets are comfortable with the vacuum, but it is possible.
Calm your pet's fears about the vacuum by slowly introducing the device to your pal. Let your pet get familiar with the vacuum when it's off. Put treats around and on it to encourage your dog or cat to form positive associations. Then turn on the vacuum for short periods and give your pet treats each time you use it.
Over time, gradually introduce the vacuum to your pets and associate it with positive rewards. You should see your furry pal relax more each time you use it, eventually ignoring the vacuum completely. At the very least, they'll calmly move to another room to escape the noise, but they'll no longer be terrified.
Why Does My Pet Freak Out When I Vacuum?
At the core of the situation, your pet freaks out over the vacuum because they don’t know what it is. Therefore, they don’t understand it. They can’t process that it’s simply a cleaning tool.
To your dog or cat, a vacuum is a noisy, scary entity that antagonizes them by rushing toward them over and over again. Also, since you’re pushing the vacuum, your pet likely assumes this dangerous machine is hurting you.
Your pet fears the worst, assuming the vacuum is up to no good. Instead of seeing you pushing and pulling it, they see a frightening beast pulling and pushing their beloved owner. So they react the best way they know by barking, hissing, and attacking the vacuum.
If your pet is the more fearful, quiet type, they may cower in a corner or run and hide. Either way, their anxiety levels rise and further fuel their reaction.
Five Tips for Getting Your Pet Used to the Vacuum
Like most pets, when you turn on the vacuum, your dog or cat either flees into hiding or starts attacking it. It can be a terrifying experience for dogs and cats, especially if they have no idea what this evil machine is trying to do (i.e., destroy everything).
But if you take time to get pets comfortable with the vacuum, you can significantly reduce their stress. Here are a few key steps to help make the vacuum less scary for your animal pals.
1. Introduce Your Pets to the Vacuum…Slowly
Since a big reason your pet goes wild over the vacuum is they don’t know what it is, introduce them to it. Let your pet sniff and investigate the vacuum before you ever even turn it on. Do this for a while to familiarize them with this foreign object.
Always give your pet treats when they investigate the vacuum. Place treats on and around it. When you first turn it on, immediately toss some goodies to your pet and then turn off the vacuum.
Once you turn it on, only leave it on for a few seconds at first. Don’t even move it yet. Let your pet get used to the sound, rewarding desired behavior with treats.
Increase the time you leave the vacuum on little by little, eventually moving it. Work your way up to regular vacuum sessions.
2. Treats, Treats, and More Treats: Make the Vacuum Something Positive
Treats are vital in getting your dog or cat used to the vacuum. You notice that in step one, lots of treats were mentioned. Make sure always to reward the desired behavior. Let your pet start to make positive associations with the vacuum.
You can also give your pet a fun distraction to help take their minds off things. An interactive toy like the Rolly Cannoli, filled with some tasty peanut butter, can be just the thing to help calm your pet’s nerves.
A lick mat layered with your pet's favorite wet food or smooth treats is another excellent option. Not only does it provide a distraction, but it encourages your pet to lick, which can release endorphins that help them keep calm.
3. Create a Calm Environment
In addition to providing your pet with some satisfying ways to refocus, create a calm environment when you’re about to vacuum. This could mean turning on classical music or plugging in a pheromone diffuser like Feliway or Adaptil.
You could also consider a calming collar that works similarly to the diffusers. These products can help take the edge off, allowing your pet to relax more.
4. Repeat Introductions with Each Vacuum Attachment
Vacuums come with all sorts of weird-looking attachments, from brushes to nozzles and everything in between. Each of these items can reset your pet’s reaction to the vacuum.
They might finally be okay with the vacuum. Then you pull out this long sucking tube, and they start going berserk again. So, repeat the process with each attachment so your pet can get familiar with the whole package.
5. Catch Your Pet Being Good
Even when you think your pet is okay with the vacuum cleaner, don’t stop rewarding good behavior. You need to catch your pet being good.
As you vacuum, every now and then, hand your pet a treat or give them positive praise when they’re remaining calm.
What Gives? My Dog Still Attacks My Vacuum!
Sometimes, even after your hard work and dedication to get your pet comfortable with the vacuum, they still aren’t comfortable. Or, they run and cringe under the bed for days. Restart the introductions if your best efforts don’t seem to be helping your pal adjust.
Start again and go a little slower through the process, making sure to be consistent with rewarding good behavior. You can also consult a behavioral trainer if you’re genuinely at a loss. They will have specific techniques and methods to try with your pet and teach you too. To find a good trainer, get recommendations from your vet, friends, and family, or try a site like Bark.com or Thumbtack.
Should I Vacuum Every Day with Pets?
If your cat or dog sheds like crazy, you might assume you must vacuum daily. Many pet owners facing this issue invest in robot vacuums to make the chore easier. But a vacuum’s a vacuum, and your pet might even go more berserk over a robot vacuum.
If your pet can’t stand the vacuum, you don’t have to vacuum every day. There are other ways to minimize pet hair so you can limit your vacuum frequency.
Brushing and grooming your pet regularly goes a long way in reducing pet hair woes. Changes in their diet can also help with shedding.
Using pet hair tools, like the FurDozer, can help you stay on top of pet hair in between routine vacuums. Plus, it also picks up lint and other debris. And it gets the deeply embedded hair that your vacuum leaves behind. When you use an effective tool like this, you could cut your vacuum time down significantly. And the FurDozer doesn’t make a sound, so your pet will give it two paws up.
Vacuums Don’t Have to Suck for Your Pets
Since it’s doubtful you’re never going to vacuum, you need to get your pet comfortable. Slowly introducing your pet to the vacuum and associating it with positive praise and treats can help. You also don’t need to vacuum all of the time. You can tackle pet hair, lint, and other unwanted elements using helpful tools like the FurDozer.
For more tips on keeping things in tip-top shape when it comes to your pets, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find advice on cleaning pet hair, organizing your pet’s belongings, and much more.