Dog Fear of Objects

Today we discussed Brody’s fear of the vacuum.


A dog’s fear is usually learned at a young age. And, luckily, it’s fairly easy to overcome with a bit of effort. First, you need to understand that it’s very distance-based. So, starting from a comfortable distance from the object and working your way towards it is best. I like doing sit/stays for treats. That way, the dog is distracted and working on something else, so the scary object becomes secondary.


If your dog doesn’t know “stay”, then you can just do sits and put the treats in front of him. This will still distract him a bit and get him moving on his own, rather than trying to force him through his fear, which is likely to backfire.


Please note that barking and jumping at a vacuum is NOT “play”. It’s fear aggression!  If you allow this, you’re teaching your dog it’s OK to bark and try to “attack” things he’s afraid of.  That could turn very bad for the wrong object, especially if it’s a person, child, or another dog.


Specifically for vacuums, I recommend:
Have him sit and stay and get closer and closer until he can take treats off of the vacuum while it’s turned off. Have him sit, down & stay NEXT to a running vacuum until he can ignore it.  (Don’t let him try to get treats off of a running vacuum!)  You are not done until he actually LIKES the vacuum and comes towards it when he sees it.


There is more info on fear of objects & a video to with free tips demonstrating how to work with your dog on this page: