9 Reasons Why Your Dog Attacks & Barks At The Vacuum + Tips

Why Does My Dog Attack The Vacuum

“Aahhhh! It’ll turn left now, I’m sure of it.

Uh-oh…

It’s coming for me now! Heeelp!” your pooch says while running for their life.

Is it always chaos when you bring out the hoover?

Your ears might be tired of hearing two annoying sounds at the same time. While you might have also mastered ‘the art of blocking’ every time they come for it.

Hmm. Aside from fear, what could your furry buddy be telling you?

Relax and stop your worries for a bit.

And read on to discover:

  • Why dogs go crazy about a dust buster.
  • If they’re being afraid, annoyed, defensive, or excited about it.
  • 5 useful tips on how to stop your dog barking at the vacuum cleaner.
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog attack the vacuum?

Your dog attacks the vacuum because of their natural fear and protective instincts. They might be irritated with its random motion, smell, and high-pitched sounds or they view it as a threat as it’s unfamiliar to them. They might also want to play with it or herd it as it may look like a lost sheep.

Why does my dog bark at the vacuum?

Your dog barks at the vacuum because they’re startled and annoyed by its sudden noises and movements, confused as it kicks up a lot of scents, showing it who’s the real boss, or just herding it. They might also be scared of it due to lack of exposure at an early age, phobia, or innate timidness.


9 reasons why your dog attacks and barks at the vacuum


#1: Its unpredictable movements

“Alright, calm down and think.

Will it move left…or right?

None of the above. It’s charging towards me!”

Does your dog only pounce on it when it moves, and ignore it when it’s off?

If that’s the case, it might be due to its surprising movements. Because of this, they’ll have the urge to charge on it every time it’s in motion.

And you usually move it back and forth when cleaning, right? So, imagine a 6-feet tall robot made of steel and plastic rushing towards you.

It’ll be a scary sight, even for you. So that could be even more frightening for your dog.

Also, your scared pooch couldn’t even predict when it’ll go next. And this confusion makes them yap.

#2: Scent overload

Your Dog Barks At The Vacuum And Attacks It Due To Its Smell

Aside from its sudden motion, your dog might also hate the hoover because of the various odors it picks up.

They might smell the different particles that were in there for a long time. And since their senses are beyond amazing, they might not like it when it’s too much.

Also, for them, smell tells time. Canines use scents to tell whether something is new or old.

For example, when you go out, your perfume will still stay in the house for many hours. And in the afternoon, the odor will be weaker, until it fades completely.

Through that, your dog knows it’s been so long since you’ve left. And you must be nearing home by then.

Same when you bought something new. Its smell must be really strong at first. And that’s how dogs would know you just bought it recently.

So whenever you vacuum the carpet, many odors start to rise in the air. And it might cause sensory overload to your pooch.

#3: The noise it creates

Its sounds are usually the main reason why canines are afraid and annoyed by it.

Its high-pitched noise pierces their ears. For us, it may be tolerable. But still, it could be annoying at times, right?

And it’s even louder for them because they’re closer to the floor when you’re cleaning. Not to mention that they can also sense all the vibrations it creates.

According to studies, dogs can hear ‘ultrasonic’ sounds which humans cannot perceive. A person’s ear can only discern up to 20,000 Hz while a hound can hear frequencies as high as 50,000 Hz.

And even the quietest vacuum will still create sounds and will still be audible to them.

So think how painful it would be to your pooch if it’s a regular one?

Apart from being noisy, they might also be startled by the sudden sounds it makes as you turn it on and off.

Note: They might also be afraid of the sound when you pull the hoover’s cord from its body.

#4: Its suction power

“What is this tremendous force?” says your clueless dog with wide eyes and tilted head.

They might also bark at the vacuum because of the air pressure in kicking up the dirt.

They might have been curious and smelled it while it’s on. Then they were surprised and thought it sniffed them back too – but in a much stronger way.

#5: Lack of exposure

Commonly, you only use it every once in a while. Maybe once or twice every week?

So, they might not have enough time to get used to Mr. Vacuum. And it’s only normal to be scared of something unfamiliar.

They might be thinking, “Oh no! Here it comes again. My human is opening that door with the loud terrifying thing inside.”

And what do they do to strangers and everything they consider as a threat?

They’ll bark to scare them off. And those who are brave might even charge at it.

You might also like: Do dogs get tired of barking?

#6: Phobia

“Why does my dog hate the vacuum?” you might ask.

It might be due to their natural fear instinct. In their eyes, it might look like a loud shrieking villain. And it’s understandable as they don’t know what it’s for and how it functions.

But…it might also turn into a mental trauma due to a bad experience.

If your dog still shows too much anxiety even if you’ve introduced them to it many times, there might be more to the story.

Did they have a previous parent?

If so, (which I’m hoping it’s not) they might have been traumatized by it.

Someone might have constantly teased them by a hoover. Or they might not also have a great first encounter. So until now, they still couldn’t forget about the horror of it.

A study proves how dogs become more afraid and aggressive of something if they’re threatened. Or if they came for inexperienced breeders.

It might also be a phobia of loud sounds such as fireworks and thunder. They might have it if their response to it doesn’t seem normal anymore.

It could be if just the sight of it makes their hair go up and growl excessively. Other signs you can notice are:

  • Biting.
  • Pacing.
  • Panting.
  • Trembling.
  • Running around.
  • Fleeing and hiding.

#7: They’re naturally timid

If there are canines who can be so aggressive, some may also be scaredy-cats.

These dogs, if made to choose between fight or flight, will surely choose the latter. And they would do it with no hesitation at all.

Based on research, fearfulness and high sensitivity to noise are more likely to be inherited.

So, yes. It may run in their blood.

And there are specific breeds that are nervous and shy.

Take the giant Mastiffs as an example. They may look strong on the outside, but they’re soft inside. This is also the case with Vizslas and some Greyhounds.

So, a noisy weird-looking machine might be too much for their frail hearts to take in.

#8: ‘Defense mode’

Your Dog Is In Defense Mode

Your dog might also hate the vacuum cleaner due to their territorial instincts.

For them, it might look like a loud crazy beast who’s taking over your place.

They also wouldn’t understand how that thing works. So they might think it’s connected with your arms. Or you’re being controlled by it.

It could be, “Oh no, my parent got abducted by this noisy monster. I need to help!,” or “Get out of here! Stop playing with my human.”

Your dog might look puzzled. But they would still stand their ground in face of an enemy.

By barking and confronting it, they might only be showing it who’s the real boss.

#9: A new playmate

Do they seem to be excited and wag their tail at the sight of a hoover?

Well, if there are hounds who get scared of it, there would also be some who wouldn’t even budge a bit.

They might have been exposed well at an early age. Or didn’t have any bad experience with it in their life.

Do you often see your dog chasing the vacuum cleaner?

If so, they might also be very social and naturally full of energy.

If you often use it, some puppies might be interested in them. They might have figured out it’s not dangerous at all.

There could also be a time when their ball got sucked by it. And then you remove and throw it away. Then they got very excited. And now, they associate it with fun.

#BONUS: Herding instincts

It’s also possible that their barking and attacking means, “Follow me!” 

Some breeds have the urge to herd or control other animals’ movements. Such as Corgis, Collies, and Sheepdogs. 

They might be doing it because the roomba looks like a sheep or cattle that needs direction. It moves aimlessly so their instincts to guide are kicking in.


5 tips on how to stop your dog from attacking and barking at the vacuum cleaner


#1:  Avoid traumas for pups

When humans are babies, they don’t have much fear of anything. They won’t be scared of a snake or a lion in front of them. Unless it made a really scary sound.

And it’s the same with dogs. As they grow older, they’ll also develop fear along the way.

So if yours is still a pup, you must introduce Mr. Vacuum to them properly as early as you can. By doing this, you may cross off hoovers in their ‘list-of-scary-random-things.’

That’s why it’s their parents’ job to teach them what the real dangers are. And make them more confident and less anxious in their environment.

When’s not the right time for this?

American Kennel Club says that there are 2 fear periods that they’ll encounter in their life.

  • First period: 8-11 weeks
  • Second period: 6-14 months.

So if they’re still in these stages, you’ll need to be extra careful when using the hoover as they’re more fearful.

Because even one short traumatic experience might be a phobia in the future. And that’s the thing you want to avoid.

So start slowly and avoid teasing them with it.

Don’t worry if yours isn’t a young pooch anymore and already developed a fright. There are still ways to combat this problem. And they’ll be discussed shortly.

#2: Get them used to its presence

This is the first step in introducing the ‘tall noisy monster’ to puppies. And also when making dogs overcome their fear of it.

  1. You must bring the vacuum first out of the closet.
  2. Place it in a large area (e.g. living room) instead of a small space. This is for them to feel safe and not feel trapped inside with it.
  3. You can put it in the middle of the room. Or anywhere far for them not to feel uneasy.
  4. Then let it stay there without turning it on. Let them inspect it on their own.
  5. Try giving your dog some tasty treats when they go near it.
  6. If they went closer and ate them, praise them. By doing this, they’ll link the hoover with a positive thing – which is having their favorite snacks.

Do this for a few days until they get used to it.

You’ll know it if they look at you and sit with a face that’s telling you, “I already had a proper look at the vacuum. Can I get some goodies now, please?” 

#3: Keep them calm even when it’s moving

Due to its unpredictable motion, it might look like it’s attacking them. And that may also give them the urge to play and herd.

This might be a headache when you want to clean without constantly blocking them. While you’re also worried about them getting hurt from non-stop pouncing.

  1. First, get and hold the vacuum. If they didn’t bark and charge at it, give them treats and praises.
  2. Next, slowly move it back and forth. Avoid making any sounds. Don’t turn it on yet. You don’t want them to be startled and ruin the plan.
  3. Reward them for being calm.
  4. If they’re not, go back a step. Get them used to you holding it first.
  5. Now, keep repeating the steps and entice them with treats.

Do this until they’ve learned it’s not scary at all. And think, “I get snacks if I stay still. That’s so cool! I must do this from now on.”

If they’re still a pup or have a phobia, be more careful of your gestures.

Avoid moving it towards them which may look terrifying. Try doing it in the opposite direction they’re facing instead.

What if my dog attacks a roomba?

Since it moves randomly, there are high chances of them getting so hyped about it.

But same with regular hoovers, make them get used to its presence first. Then keep giving them treats.

When you turn it on, you may ask them to “sit” or “lie down” first. By doing this, you might prevent them from going after the roomba once it’s running.

And if they’re going to have run for it, clap your hands or blow a whistle. Or anything that’ll get their attention. This way, you’ll stop them from doing what they want to do.

If they turn and come to you instead, reward them a lot.

At the end of the day, they should think it’s more fun obeying you than chasing after it.

#4: Desensitize them with its sounds

This might need some more time as the main cause of this issue is usually its noise.

  1. To start, put the hoover first in a different room. This way, they won’t be shocked by the sudden noise because of the distance.
  2. Next, make someone turn it on while you play with them.
  3. While it’s on, keep giving them treats. When it’s off, stop doing so.
  4. If they’re still unbothered, start to move nearer towards the sound. And still, reward them.
  5. Try getting even closer.
  6. If they look nervous, return to your last position and distract them.
  7. Just repeat and read their body language as you go nearer.

What to do if my pooch is extra anxious?

You can desensitize them first without turning on the actual thing. There are vacuum sounds on the Internet like this one below:

First, play it to them in low volume. And while it’s playing, start giving them treats.

If they’re not nervous, try raising the volume. Keep rewarding them for staying calm. But if they’re not, turn it down a bit. Wait for them to settle down before giving them anything.

This way, you’re not going to encourage the behavior you’re trying to get rid of.

If they seem very anxious, don’t force them that day. You can do it again next time. Doing that might be a traumatic experience for them.

#5: Keep them away

These are easy tricks for when you need to clean the house. And also, if you still haven’t got the chance to train them.

Put them in a room

  1. Before using it, you may put your dog in a place far from where you’re going to clean.
  2. Leave them some interactive toys like a Kong. You can put some kibbles or their favorite snacks in there. This is to keep them busy and entertained while you’re out.
  3. Play music that’s loud enough to mask the hoover’s noise. Also, you may let the TV or radio on. Lastly, make sure they’re comfortable in it before leaving them. And you’re good to go.

Take them outside

If you’re living with someone, you can ask them to walk your dog outside for a bit. And only return after you’re finished.

They can also make your pooch play in the yard. And entertain them with catching frisbees or playing fetch.