Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Just a Vacuum Cleaner? Calm Down Fido

It's just a vacuum cleaner? Calm down.

It's time to clean the house and you've done everything on the list, from doing the laundry, dusting the living room, wiping the mirrors, all while Fido rests in his favorite dog bed from Puppy Love unaffected. Until of course you decide it's time to vacuum. Some dogs cower in the corners or hide under beds far away from this evil contraption, others make like Cujo and attack the intrusive object until it returns back to the closet and their home is safe again.

The Culprit of All Your Dog's Fear

So what is it about dogs that make them hate this object with a passion? There are the obvious reasons that it's loud and big, but could there be more to it?

As humans the loud noise coming from the vacuum doesn't really bother us; however, dogs ears are very different. In the anatomy of a dog ear there are 18 muscles that can change and direct the position of the ear in order to focus on particular sounds and know exactly where it is located. The ears act as funnels taking in the sound and magnifying it. Dogs with pricked ears and somewhat floppy ears can usually hear better than dogs with larger basset hound-like ears.

To get an idea of how much more dogs hear than humans:
Loudness is measured in decibels and frequency.
As humans we can hear high frequencies of 12 to 20,000Hz,
while our dogs can hear high sound from 40 to 100,000Hz.

Most vacuum cleaners in a regular cleaning mode work at 70 dB, or on a strong mode at 90dB.
So there is little wonder as to why at 70 dB, a vacuum cleaner could be frightening to our pups.

But there is another side to the fear, it is the movement. If you look at a vacuum cleaner when it's in motion it is usually pushed back and forth constantly with tubes and pieces pulling out and moving to corners of your house with no regularity. Most dogs do not know how to interpret this and see it as a symbol of aggression coming from the machine.

Now of course it's obvious that loud sounds and erratic movement aren't comfortable for dogs, but there is something more you may not have thought of when it comes to your dogs irrational fear of vacuums compared to other loud or moving objects (cars, stereo, tv, air conditioning units, etc.).

It goes all the way back to simple dog instincts and rules. When in the wild and running in packs, the alpha dog, the head pooch, the top dog, always runs the pack and leads them. As the care taker of your dog,  they consider you their alpha dog.  As their pack leader you are following and moving in synchronization with this foreign object that is disrupting their day with loud sounds and unpredictable motion. How could his master be following something else? It is an inconceivable thought to our dogs and it makes them act in one way or another.

So the next time your dog runs away at the first sign of a little bit of cleaning, or goes for the kill and bites your vacuum's wheels, you'll know they are just protecting their favorite pack leader.

However, this fear doesn't apply to all dogs, our Cocker Spaniel Sebastian is not bothered by it at all and even follows us around pawing our legs to get some attention in the process. As for the other 3, Lily, Lucy, and Abbie, either let them outside or expect to find them in the bed cautiously awaiting for you to finish.

Speaking of cleaning and ears, why not pick up Fido some Organic Dog Ear Wash!

So how does your dog react to your vacuum cleaner?

Terrified the whole time
or doesn't even notice it?

1 comment:

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