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Vacuums, Fireworks and Noises — Oh My!

Often times our pups are skittish around the vacuum cleaner or jumpy when fireworks blow up outside. I mean, come on. What the heck is that sucky thing supposed to do, anyway? And that loud BOOM?! What’s that all about! These things don’t make sense to our furry friends and often can cause anxiety — whether we notice it or not. Fear cannot always be easily spotted. We have to learn to look for the signs. Tail tucked, ears back and hair standing up on the hindquarters are all red flags to keep an eye out for. However, learning how to deal with these emotions can prove to be fairly difficult.

Our furry friends seem to pick the strangest things to get fearful of, but that’s not their fault! Although it can be a frustrating issue to overcome, do not force them to “get over it.” That’s not going to get anyone anywhere. It could in fact make the issue even worse and create a larger fear than before! (How would you feel if someone made you stand on a sky-scraper when your worst fear was heights? Exactly!)

Take it slow.

Whatever your dog is afraid of, re-introduce it slowly and in a way that is gentler than before. You may not have known that the vacuum was going to cause Skippy to run and hide under the bed until it was too late. But now, you know! Time to fix it. Grab the vacuum cleaner and set it out where you dog can see it. If he shows fear, reassure him that it’s all okay. Begin to reward him for not freaking out. Show him that the vacuum can bring GOOD things! As he starts to not mind it, get him to stand next to it. Perfect, he’s not running away! Next, turn it on in place. Don’t worry if he decides to dash. Turn it back off, let him calm down, and start again. Reward him frequently. Once he’s past that, start to use it! Again, toss out those rewards speedily… make it a game for him. Soon enough, you’ll be able to vacuum freely, and Skippy won’t mind the silly thing anymore! He might even enjoy it because he associates it with good things (treats!)

Disclaimer: Some dogs may never fully get over their fears, whatever that may be. If that’s the case, learn what sets off your dog and manage around it. If he can’t get over the vacuum, put him in another room before you clean the house. Be aware of your dog and how the surroundings effect him.

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