You go to pull out the vacuum to give your carpets a good once over and pow, your Shih Tzu goes running before you even turn it on. If this is a normal scene at your home, you might be wondering why are Shih Tzus scared of vacuums? There’s actually a good reason for it.
Why Are Shih Tzus Scared of Vacuums?
I know that my two Shih Tzus are terrified of vacuums and tend to run to me or to the other side of the house when the vacuum comes out of the closet.
In fact, it is so bad that my poor Sammy will run when the woman that comes every other week to clean just walks into the house.
Sammy doesn’t need to see the vacuum.
She knows it is coming.
But why does she and my other Shih Tzu Truman get so freaked out?
There are actually a few good reasons.
Vacuums are Super Noisy
If you think about it, vacuums are really loud.
Your Shih Tzus hearing is a lot more sensitive than yours is.
So, that loud noise affects them differently than it does you.
It can hurt their ears.
Not to mention, in the wild large animals that might have seen a dog as prey make loud noises.
There is a connection for your dog.
They don’t really understand that your vacuum is a tool and not something that wants to eat them.
This noise is also unfamiliar to them.
Chances are you don’t vacuum all the time or every day.
So, they don’t have an opportunity to truly get used to the sound.
Add in the vibration that a vacuum makes and it can seem doubly threatening.
Vacuums Have a Weird Smell
All dogs, including Shih Tzus, have a strong sense of smell.
And if you think about it, when you vacuum it pulls up dirt and hair and dust and all sorts of things into the vacuum.
This creates an odor and this odor isn’t something your dog is familiar with.
So, that kind of freaks them out a bit as well.
Dogs use their sense of smell to determine if there is danger near them or something they need to be concerned about.
Chances are you notice a weird odor when you vacuum as well.
And if that’s the case, it’s 100 times worse for your Shih Tzu.
The Suction of the Vacuum is Offputting
Your Shih Tzu sniffs things to learn more about them.
They do this in your home and outside as well.
They will sniff other dogs and people too.
It is their way of discovering the world around them.
If you think about the suction that a vacuum uses to clean your carpets, it is similar to the sniffing your dog does.
The one difference is that the suction is much stronger, so your Shih Tzu has to wonder why this machine is being so aggressive when a simple sniff would do this trick.
Over time, the fear of the noise, smell, and suction can grow, and just seeing the vacuum even when it isn’t on can trigger fear.
Or in Sammy’s case, just seeing my cleaning lady can trigger that fear because she knows that once she gets here, the vacuum coming out of the closet isn’t far behind.
This can worry your dog.
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How to Help Your Shih Tzu Overcome Their Fear
There is a way you can help your Shih Tzu get over their fear of the vacuum cleaner.
According to the American Kennel Club, positive reinforcement is the key.
First, introduce the vacuum in a controlled environment at a very low volume and/or a great distance from your dog.
Then, pair the sound of the vacuum with the highest food reward. Do this several times until you see your dog’s reaction change from unsure and concerned to happy and excited when hearing the vacuum at very low levels of intensity, says Hartstein.
After you get that happy response, increase the volume/sound of the vacuum in very small graduated increments, and repeat.
Just be sure to have some of your dog’s favorite treats on hand when teaching them not to fear your vacuum.
With proper training, you should see a reduction in fear over time, and vacuuming will become a less negative experience for them.
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To Sum it All Up:
There are several signs of fear that your Shih Tzu might show if they are afraid of your vacuum. The most common is running and hiding. The scary sound of a vacuum hurts their ears and makes them feel as if there is danger nearby. You might also see this noise sensitivity or noise anxiety with another loud sound such as thunder. With some training sessions, you will find that you can eliminate your Shih Tzus fear and vacuum without terrorizing your pet.
This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.