The sound of a vacuum is a source of modern comfort to humans—to us, it signals a quick route to a clean floor. To your dog or cat, the same noise signals unexplained chaos.
Some of our patients at LazyPaw Animal Hospitals were raised inside the home from day one, so they’re more used to sounds such as the coffee maker and television. Others may not be as adjusted to the racket of living in a home in 2014, or they are naturally more timid around loud noises the blender makes. For these pets, at least until a white-noise-whisper blender hits the market, owners have to do a little extra training to prove there is nothing to be scared of.
Your dog or cat doesn’t understand everything you do, so to them, the vacuum might seem like a giant monster that sleeps in the closet and comes out periodically to scream and suck up their toys. Don’t be frustrated if your pet is afraid, and don’t force them to be around the appliance that terrorizes them. That will only make matters worse.
Instead, put yourself in their paws for a moment. Imagine a twenty-foot tall robot lives in your basement. From time to time, without warning, your best friend in the entire world brings the robot upstairs where it yells and chases you around the living room. See? It’s all about perspective.
Now imagine if that same basement monster came out again, but this time it didn’t yell or move. It just stands there and gives you a chocolate chip cookie. If the monster did this enough times, you would start to think of it as more of a cookie monster. If the robot eventually began to make low noises while it gave you cookies, you might still feel safe enough to be near it.
Training a pet to make peace with the vacuum is a similar process. Take the vacuum out and leave treats a few feet away from it. Praise and pet your friend when she comes to get the treats, which will further reassure her. Eventually you can put treats on the vacuum itself. Your pet will gradually come to believe that any time the vacuum comes out, good things happen.
Once your dog or cat is comfortable, give her more treats while turning the vacuum on the lowest setting. You can gradually increase the noise, and eventually move the vacuum around, all while leaving a small trail of treats. Eventually, your pet won’t need treats to be comfortable with the vacuum on.