Training Tip Tuesday ~ Introducing the “Scary” Vacuum

For many puppies and adult dogs a like, the vacuum can be a very scary thing. It’s weirdly shaped, vary loud, and moves in frantic forward and backward motions. Since we vacuum regularly on the weekends in my household, I knew that I had to start introducing the “scary” vacuum to the new foster puppies ASAP. If you take the time from the very beginning and slowly introduce the vacuum to your new dog, it’ll be less stressful for the dog when the time comes to actually flip the switch and get the job done.

Step 1: Introducing the vacuum. When you first introduce the vacuum to your dog, you want to do it while it’s stationary and turned OFF. Maybe practice some basic behaviors in the same room as the vacuum and let the dog investigate it while positively rewarding the dog with yummy treats.

Investigating the big weird yellow thing

Investigating the big weird yellow thing (First introduction with the vacuum OFF)

Step 2: Moving the vacuum. Once the dogs seem to be comfortable around the vacuum. You’ll want to start to move it (again still keeping it turned OFF). What I did with my current foster dogs (pictured above) was walk around my house with the vacuum turned OFF while tossing them treats at the same time. In no time the pups thought it was an awesome game. When the vacuum moves we get treats!!

Step 3: Turning ON the vacuum. Going back to having the vacuum stationary. You want to flip the vacuum ON for a second or two while simultaneously give treats (very generously). Once you switch the vacuum OFF, treats stop. So it’s Vacuum ON: Treat, treat, treat. Vacuum OFF: No treats. You want to repeat this step several times until your dog is happily waiting for treats when the vacuum is switched on. You also want to vary the time you have the vacuum switched into the ON position. At first 2 or 3 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 20 seconds, then 7 seconds then 30 seconds…. and so on. *Note: Another option could be giving your dog a stuffed Kong or a very high value treat (like a bully stick) to chew on when the vacuum is switched ON.*

What is that noise? Gypsy investigates further as Bandit eats some treats.

What is that? Gypsy investigates further as Bandit eats some treats.

Step 4: Moving the vacuum while turned ON. Once your dog seems comfortable and happy with the vacuum being switched ON and stationary, you then want to begin to move the vacuum around the house while in the ON position. Again, every time the vacuum is in the ON position you are tossing treats like there is no tomorrow. Like in step 3, you want to take baby steps in the amount of time the vacuum is ON and moving. You want to slowly build up your time vacuuming. Start out with a few seconds, then few minutes (or maybe one small room of the house) at a time and then gradually increase as your dog becomes more and more comfortable. *Note: This whole process may take a few days/weeks so be patient and go at your dogs pace. You want to make sure this is a positive and fun experience for you pup. Start out by vacuuming small portions of your house each day. Depending on your dog in a few days/weeks you can be back to vacuuming your entire house in the same day.*

Luckily, our young foster puppies took  to this vacuum thing fairly quickly. It only took them a little more than a week to get used to the vacuum and by the end of the second week I was able to vacuum the entire house while the pups lay quietly on a dog bed enjoying a delicious stuffed Kong.

What ways do you help your dog feel more comfortable around new “scary” things?

Gypsy and Bandit (both pictured here) are available for adoption through Mutts Matter Rescue.  If you are interested in adopting one (or both) of these cuties please visit the Mutts Matter Rescue page and fill out an adoption application.

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