Why Do Dogs Bark at Vacuums?

Sometimes it seems like dogs bark at the strangest things, and one of these things is an extremely common household appliance many families use multiple times per week: the vacuum cleaner. 

When you really think about it, it’s not too surprising some dogs fear the vacuum. It’s loud, it moves fast, and it doesn’t resemble any creature your dog has ever seen before. 

This unfamiliarity can cause your dog feeling threatened and unsafe around the vacuum or it may trigger their prey drive. Many dogs express both types of emotions by barking excessively.  

Tired of dealing with a barking spell whenever you’re simply trying to tidy up around the house? You don’t have to resign yourself to the fact that your dog fears the vacuum. There are several useful steps to take to get your dog feeling more comfortable around the vacuum, allowing you to have some peace in your home on cleaning days. One of the quickest and easiest is a no-shock, humane bark collar like the one we have at Pet Pawsabilities.

Introduce Them Young 

We’ve all heard the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While this isn’t necessarily true all the time, and dogs can certainly continue to learn new skills into adulthood, getting training to stick will almost always be easier with a younger dog. 

If your dog is already well into its adult years and you’re just learning about their aversion to the vacuum cleaner, you may have a harder time making them comfortable around this machine. 

When your dog is still a puppy or in the young adult stages of development, you’re in a great position to get your dog used to the vacuum through desensitization practices. 

Desensitize Them 

Speaking of desensitization, the best way to get your dog accustomed to the vacuum cleaner and reduce any fear or anxiety around it is to start small and build it up over time. 

Let your dog thoroughly sniff the vacuum while it’s off and explore it however they want (without damaging the machine, of course). This familiarization helps your dog learn the vacuum is not a threat and is simply just another household object. 

While the vacuum is still powered off, try pushing it around as you would if it were on and functional. Your dog will get used to the idea that this object moves while still keeping its loud noises out of the equation. 

Once your dog has become completely comfortable with the vacuum moving around, you can start practicing the same exercise with the vacuum turned on. Make sure to have plenty of treats ready and reward your pup when they don’t react to the vacuum.

Have Patience 

Maybe you’ve tried following the steps above, and your dog still exhibits stress behaviors like excessive barking. If you’re in this situation, it’s important not to take out any frustration on your dog as it will only make their anxiety worse. Let your dog have some space from the vacuum to relax and try again another day. 

Try a Bark Collar

No-shock bark collars are a great way to discourage your dog from barking excessively, no matter the specific reason. These completely safe collars are designed to warn your dog to stop barking with a beep before they emit a light vibration, which doesn’t hurt your dog but rather irritates them enough to get them to quiet down. 

If you use a bark collar to dissuade your dog from barking at the vacuum, make sure to have treats ready to reward them when they successfully quiet down around this trigger. 

Keep Them in Another Area with a Fun Activity 

In some cases, you may not have the time to both vacuum your house and complete a behavior training session with your dog. In situations like these, it’s best to simply find an area of the house in which your dog can comfortably rest with a chew toy or something else to keep them occupied. 

An even better option is to have another member of the family take the dog for a walk while you vacuum.