How to Avoid Traumatizing Your Pet While Vacuuming

Consider how to approach vacuuming in a way that won't scare your pets.

Vacuuming Wihtout Traumatizing Pets

If you have a pet that goes flying out of the room or continuously barks while you’re trying to vacuum, there’s a good chance you’re inadvertently traumatizing it while trying to suck up the dust bunnies under the couch. Animals have much keener senses than humans — especially when it comes to hearing — and while the sound of the vacuum may be white noise for you, it can cause serious anxiety or fear for your pets.

It’s not just the noise from the vacuum that causes anxiety in pets, though. There are a number of issues that could be causing your cat or dog to freak out over the vacuum:

  • Well, as we said, the noise could be bothering them. That vacuum hum may not tweak your eardrums, but it could sound like a howling, squealing cacophony of monsters to your puppy or kitty thanks to their super-sensitive ears.
  • It could be a lack of exposure. Maybe your pet has never seen or heard a vacuum before. The first encounter with a roaring, sucking vacuum could be scary to a pet, especially if they’re still young.
  • Or, it could be that your pet had a bad experience with a vacuum. Did you rescue your pet from a shelter? Were they rehomed to your (now) forever home? It’s pretty impossible to know what their experiences were with vacuums prior to their entrance into your home, so you could be dealing with a pet that’s been traumatized or harassed with a vacuum.
  • It could be a temperament issue. If your animal is shy or timid, the vacuum could be overwhelming their senses.
  • It could just be instinctual. Perhaps your pet is acting out in a bid to protect their human from that weird, loud machine. Instincts could be taking over and causing them to go a little bananas at the sight and sound of the vacuum.

Whatever the reason, though, it’s important not to further traumatize your pet with the vacuum. There are ways to avoid doing further vacuum-related psychological harm to your furry friend, including the following:

  • Ignore it. Sometimes it’s best to just allow your fuzzball to get over their fear on their own by exposure. If you think they can handle regular bouts with the vacuum, go for it. Keep an eye out for accidents or serious signs of fear, though. A puddle or shaking in a corner could be a sign that they need to be eased into things slowly.
  • Remove them. If your floors are in desperate need of a clean-up and you don’t think your pet can handle it, you should consider removing them from the room. Maybe it’s time for a little outdoor fun, or perhaps they’d be better off hanging out in another room while you sweep up the tumbleweeds of pet hair with the vacuum.
  • Ease them in. If you’re afraid that ignoring their fear of the vacuum or removing them from the room just isn’t feasible, try easing your pet in slowly. Leave the vacuum off and in a room with them so they can get acquainted that way. If they won’t go near it, try luring them in with a treat on top of the vacuum so they can see it’s not going to hurt them when they approach it. Once they stop flipping out at the sight of the clean machine, it’s time to flip it on and let them get used to it. If you take things slowly, your pet will probably get over their fear.

No matter what method you choose, though, it’s important to weigh your pet’s personality and reaction to make sure you’re being compassionate to their needs. There’s no blanket answer for getting your pet to be comfortable with the vacuum, so take things one step at a time and you’ll eventually figure out what works best for your furry friend. And keep in mind that these days there are more and more pet-friendly vacuums out there, many designed specifically to pick up pet hair.

Resources: Pethub, Wikihow