Why Are Dogs Scared of Vacuums and Helping Them Overcome Their Fear

It might be the weirdest thing about your dog that you know. Big or small, young or old, they turn into a scaredy-cat when the vacuum comes out. If your normally proud pooch turns into a barking buffoon every time you take care of the vacuuming in your house, you might be wondering why, and how to make it stop. If they’re peeing on the carpet, damaging furniture, and scared out of their mind, you might also want to know how to cure them of their unreasonable fear.

In this article, we’ll talk about why your dog is scared of the vacuum and what you can do to calm them down and let them know it’s not a big, loud monster trying to hurt them. Enjoy.

Many dogs are scared of vacuums because to them, vacuums are loud, weird looking machines. But, the more often you run the vacuum, dogs will usually get used to the sight and sound, and will eventually calm down.

Why Are Some Dogs Scared of the Vacuum?

Remember that, to us, a vacuum is simply a cleaning tool, whereas to your dog it’s a big, loud sucking monster that, as far as they can understand, wants to do them (or you) harm. Seem in this light their fear is understandable, especially if they are a smaller breed. You simply need to teach them that it’s not necessary to be afraid. (We’ll tell you how down below.)

Here’s a video of our puppy reacting to a robot vacuum cleaner. He’s still very skeptical about the device and barks at it.

What Is it About Vacuums Specifically that Frightens your Furry Friend?

The first step towards helping your dog get over their fear of the vacuum cleaner is to know what they’re scared of in the first place, and why. Most dogs share some common traits when it comes to this abnormal fear, including;

  • They’ve had previous bad experiences with vacuums that left them with a vacuum phobia (Zuigerphobia)
  • They haven’t seen or heard the vacuum enough to know that it’s not going to harm them.
  • Your particular dog might simply have a fearful temperament that the vacuum exacerbates
  • They may be trying to ‘herd’ the vacuum, following their basic doggie instincts
  • Someone used the vacuum to scare them, thinking it was funny (To them it’s not.)

How To Know if your Dog is Scared of the Vacuum?

For most of us, it’s relatively easy to see that our dog is scared of the vacuum cleaner simply by looking at their body language and listening to their loud, furious and non-stop barking while it’s running. As soon as you turn it on they start going nuts, and some are so scared of the vac they start as soon as you take it out of the closet. Here are some of the signs that will tell you they have an unhealthy fear of your electrical dirt sucking machine.

  • They bark loud and furiously
  • Drooling increases significantly
  • They urinate all over the place
  • You find them hiding under the bed or sofa
  • They pace back and forth like a tower guard
  • Trying to escape they run into things like a crazed toddler
  • They chew things to pieces while the vacuum is running

Again, all of these signs and symptoms point to an unhealthy fear of the vacuum. A bit of barking when you first start is normal but it should stop relatively soon if your dog is OK, but if they exhibit any of the signs we just talked about you will need to show them that the vacuum isn’t going to hurt them so that they don’t hurt themselves (or you by accident).

How to Help Your Dog Get Over their Fear of the Push Vacuum

There are 2 different types of vacuums these days, the traditional vacuums that you push around the floor yourself and the new ‘robot’ vacuums that will vacuum your home or apartment automatically, even when you’re not there. Teaching your dog that neither of these types of vacuums is trying to hurt them or devour their little doggie soul is slightly different.

For a push vacuum, first you need to desensitize them to it, so that they are less emotional when it’s around, running and making that awful noise. This is a gradual process that will take some patience, diligence, and practice, but if it works your dog will be much happier (and you’ll be able to vacuum in peace again).

  1. Expose them to the vacuum by letting it sit out in the open all the time
  2. Pet them while you are touching the vacuum and tell them that everything is all right
  3. Place a treat on the vacuum and let them take it off themself
  4. Turn on the vacuum and sit with them on the floor while it’s running
  5. Never use the vacuum to ‘scare’ your dog, even in ‘fun’. It’s not healthy for them at all
  6. Move the vacuum back and forth while it’s ‘off’. This gets them used to the vacuuming movements you make
  7. Teach them how to use the vacuum (Kidding!)

How to Help Your Dog Get Over their Fear of the Robot Vacuum

The interesting thing about robotic vacuums, at least when it comes to your dog, is that it is like an animal to them. A loud, obnoxious animal that they can’t scare off with their barking, which can be infuriating to your dog and make it even angrier than with a push vac. Plus, a robotic vacuum works whether you’re home or not, which can be very confusing and petrifying to your dog.

Teaching them that your robotic vacuum isn’t a threat is pretty much the same as with a push vac, although maybe slightly more difficult because you won’t always be home to see if they’re OK when it’s working.

  1. Pet them while you are touching the robot vacuum and tell them that everything is all right
  2. Place a treat on the robot vacuum and let them take it off themself
  3. Turn on the robot vacuum and sit with them on the floor while it’s running
  4. Play with them and keep them occupied while the robot vac runs. Soon they will not even notice it (in most cases)

Are Some Vacuums Better for Dogs than Others?

Not really. All vacuums make a lot of loud, unnatural noise and push vacs are big and scary looking no matter which brand you might have. Yes, some vacuums are a little bit quieter than others but none are so quiet that they won’t upset a dog that’s not OK with them. Still, you can try a quieter vacuum and see if it works. There are a few on the market that are quieter than others (and some are even great for pet hair).

  • MOKINGTOP Super Quiet Robot Vacuum
  • Miele Complete C3 Marin
  • Shark Ion 720
  • Bissel Air Ram
  • Ecovacs Deebot 661

Keep in mind that, while these vacuum models are quieter, they will still make enough noise that, if your dog is scared of them, they will still react poorly. That’s why you should use the tips that we’ve given (above) to help them over their fear.

Why Are Vacuums More Scary to your Dog than Other Devices?

Maybe you’ve noticed that, when you use your hairdryer, turn on the air vent over the oven, use a cordless drill or fire up the blender to make a smoothie your dog is just fine. It’s only when the vacuum is out and running that they go out of their minds, and you can’t quite figure out why.

The thing is, your blender and hairdryer are very small. The air vent? It’s small too, and doesn’t take over a room like a vacuum can. Plus they are always out and on display, and you don’t take them out of the dark, scary closet every so often to use them. Robot vacuums are even worse because, as your dog sees it, they’re actual, living creatures that go where they want and do things without rhyme or reason.

All of these factors go into creating a sense of fear and foreboding when you use your vacuum and, frankly, dogs don’t have the mental capacity to know that all is well. Some dogs will never be OK with the vacuum and you’ll need to simply put them in another room or take them outside when you use it. If you’re lucky however you can use the tips that we’ve given to help them get over their fear and realize that the vacuum isn’t a big, noisy beast but simply another tool they can ignore.

Be Patient and Use Praise to Help your Dog Over their Vacuum Fears

No matter which of the tips you use to try and help your dog over their unhealthy fear of the vacuum you’ll definitely need to be patient with them and use a lot of praise if you want that behavior to stop (or at least subside). Your furry pal might not get over their fear right away and so you’ll need to try and try again if you want to get results.

Having treats around can help, no doubt, so use them as you would to teach your dog any new command or trick. Keep some handy every time you vacuum and give them out when they have a good (i.e. calm) reaction. Over time they will become desensitized to the vac and all (or at least most) of their fear will slowly go away.


It might take some time and patience but many dogs can be taught that the vacuum isn’t something to be scared of and won’t hurt them. We hope you liked How To Help Your Dog with their Fear of Vacuums and that it answered all your questions.

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