How to Keep My Dog from Attacking the Vacuum Cleaner

By Toni Drugmand as part of  the e-How video series

If we go back to the basic instinct of the dog it is easy to see why dogs chase things that move. As pack animals, all dogs possess survival instincts. Some dogs will have stronger instincts to do certain behaviors than others. Interestingly enough, these instincts are part of the reason that dogs take so well to training when we work with these behaviors. It is because dogs inherently know they must have structure and order and work together or they won’t make it. Instincts tell them chaos and unorganized pack ritual will weaken their chance at survival. Our dogs recognize this need at a very basic level of instinct. Training will assist with clear and specific boundaries. Training will help your dog understand the structure in your home and in your pack allowing him the ability to listen and relax in place of behaviors that are annoying, destructive and bad for you and your dog.

The desire to chase things that move derives from the instinct of chasing prey for a meal. In certain breeds, however; it is also a means to control a herd and keep them calm and from hurting themselves. This holds true for our herding breeds; they want to stop movement for this reason. Other breeds such as Terriers were bred to exterminate vermin from the farm. All dog breeds can certainly share these characteristics but largely we see a higher number of dogs wanting to “attack” a vacuum, lawn mower, yard blower and the like in the driving herders or Drover’s dogs breeds. These are particular herding breeds whose instinct has been developed to “drive” the cattle or sheep from the rear. Often these fearless qualities will help the farmer keep the livestock in line. An example of Drover’s dog is the Corgi or Cattle Dog; they were selected and bred to “drive or heel” the herd. Border Collies can also possess these traits although their development is to be low to the ground and usually cause less of a stir by keeping large distances between the herd and themselves. Aussies are another breed we might expect more likely to chase and attack anything that moves. Jack Russell Terriers and Miniature Pinschers and most other terriers will also have a strong desire to chase things that move like lizards and go looking for gophers and so on because they were bred to go to the earth and get rid of the vermin on the farm.

Training for attacking the vacuum cleaner is essentially the same as training for a dog that attacks the TV or chases the lawn mower.

Start with a solid Obedience Foundation

Training Tools- Long Line, Training Collar of Choice, treats, treat pouch, place

· Attention first- Getting the dog’s attention is the key. First, interrupt the behavior with the training tools best suited for your dog. Attach a long line, call the dog to Come, reward with a “Yes!” and feed. Then direct the dog to go to his place. This gives the dog something constructive to do, rather than just a something not to do. With a helper, keep the dog on his place while the vacuum is pushed around without being turned on. If this goes well, add the noise of turning on the vacuum and keep it a good distance away while reinforcing that your dog stay on the place.

· Place-Use the Place command to give the dog something specific to go to and stay on

· Crate– Management and putting the dog away if you are unable to work with him during the time the vacuum is running is helpful.

This article was written to accompany the ehow video “How to Keep My Dog from Attacking the Vacuum Cleaner”

Toni Drugmand is the owner Sit Means Sit Dog Training where.… A Trained Dog is a Happy Dog!

For more information on training your dog visit us at for articles, tips and videos.

*Be sure your pet is free of health issues before starting a training program. Never hesitate to seek the help of professional dog trainer, especially when it comes to dog aggression.

Comments are closed.