Skip to main content

The totally normal household items that freak your dog out

Does your dog hide every time you turn on the vacuum cleaner or put your dirty clothes in the washing machine? They’re in good company. A recent study completed by Compare the Market, a UK price comparison website, found that more than four out of five dogs are afraid of at least one household appliance. That’s a lot of anxious pups!

Read on to learn which household items freak out dogs the most and why these objects are so upsetting. You’ll also discover a few techniques you can use to comfort your scared dog.

Two dogs laying together under a blanket
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Common household objects that freak out dogs

Compare the Market polled 1,000 dog owners to learn more about pet anxiety in the home. They asked owners which objects caused their pets the most strife and how pups react to the stressors. Which everyday household items are the most stress-inducing? Vacuum cleaners are the scariest appliance to dogs, with 45% of pet parents reporting that their pets cannot stand the cleaning tool. Unsurprisingly to many pet owners, devices that make the loudest noise are most-despised by dogs.

According to the study, these are the biggest villains in the home:

  • Vacuum — 45%
  • Hairdryer — 24%
  • Lawnmower — 21%
  • Washing machine — 15%
  • Blender — 13%
  • Broom — 10%

Dogs show a range of behaviors in response to their least favorite appliance. Around 20% of pups show signs of aggression when their enemy approaches. They may begin barking excessively, chewing, or trying to attack the object when they feel threatened by it. Most dogs, around 40%, choose to flee when the object they fear is in use, opting to leave the room instead of confronting the appliance. A fifth of pups will cry or whine until the machine is turned off. Around 10% of pet owners also reported that their severely stressed dogs begin panting, which can signify serious anxiety.

Corgi anxiously looking at vacuum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why are dogs so scared of loud noises?

With the exception of the broom, the five most feared home goods are also some of the loudest devices in the home. It’s no shock that these noisy appliances are the most stressful; dogs’ hearing is about four times more sensitive than humans. They’re capable of hearing sounds that are farther away and in higher frequencies than we are. If your blender is loud to you, just think how your dog feels about it.

Vacuum cleaners (and, to a lesser extent, brooms) are especially frightening for pups because of their mobility. They move around willy-nilly and kick up all sorts of scents, disrupting the environment that your dog is most comfortable in. Robot vacuums like the Roomba can be particularly stressful for pups. These devices move unexpectedly around the house and can seemingly (to your dog) appear and disappear without warning.

Woman hugging her sleepy dog
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to ease your pet’s stress

What can you do if your dog, like most pups, gets stressed out by common household items? There are two courses of action you can take: helping them manage their stress or training them to overcome their fear. Training your pet is a more involved and lengthy process, but it can really pay off in the long run. Additionally, training is easier with young puppies but may require more effort for older dogs.

Coping with stressors

Taking these measures can help to ease your dog’s stress whenever you’re using their least favorite household appliance.

  • Give them a safe space away from the noise where they can comfortably avoid the device. If your dog becomes aggressive with the machine, ensure their safe space is in a separate, closed-off room.
  • Provide your pup with an interactive toy, like a KONG toy, to distract them and keep them content.
  • For extremely anxious dogs, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety solutions, like natural supplements or medication.

Training your dog

The goal of training is to change your dog’s view of the household item so they can overcome their fear. This is a slow process that will require lots and lots of treats.

  • Sit with your dog in a quiet room. Ask a friend to bring in the appliance while it’s off and still, and start giving your dog treats.
  • Repeat this process over a few days to help your dog create a positive association with the item.
  • Then, you can slowly introduce movement into the process and, eventually, noise. The whole training process may take a few weeks until your pup is completely comfortable with the appliance.

Dogs are often stressed by common household appliances, like vacuums, hairdryers, blenders, and brooms. These loud and sometimes invasive objects can disrupt your pup’s comfort, triggering a fight-or-flight reaction that may leave them hiding under a table or barking aggressively at the device. But your pet doesn’t have to suffer every time you want to clean your home or make a smoothie. By using the coping tips or training method above, you can ease their suffering and eventually overcome their fear — and never have to feel guilty about using your vacuum again.

Editors' Recommendations

Shannon Cooper
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Shannon Cooper has written about everything from pet care and travel to finance and plumbing in her seven years as a writer…
5 easy ways to spruce up your living room for spring
The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Here's how to bring that energy into your living room
Living room with warm yellow curtains

Spring is here, and we couldn't be more excited! This means temperatures starting to warm, birds chirping, flowers beginning to bloom, and spring cleaning. There are so many ways to introduce spring into your home, and — as a place where family and friends gather to watch movies, play games, and relax after a long day — the living room is the perfect place to start.

If you're thinking about updating your living room this spring, you may want to start by decluttering. It can help give you a sense of what to keep, donate, or throw away, and will help you see the space more clearly.

Read more
This is the secret to drying your clothes: A natural solution you’ll never guess
Find out the scoop on wool dryer balls vs. fabric softeners and dryer sheets
Close-up of a laundry basket and washing machine

Some of the most important factors in our laundry routine are the ones that make our clothes feel soft and smell amazing. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets have reigned supreme for decades, but there’s a new kid on the block when it comes to softening and freshening those fabrics. This is the secret to drying your clothes: wool dryer balls!

If you haven’t heard of wool dryer balls, these handy little puffs are made entirely of natural wool yarn and sort of look like tennis balls -- only a bit bigger. But why would you need balls of wool in your dryer and what do they do? We’re going to talk about how wool dryer balls work and why you need to add them to your laundry routine.

Read more
Should you power wash your house in the fall? Here are 5 things to wash at the end of the season
Power wash your house in the fall - you'll be happy with the results
Man spraying roof with power washer

The fall season is a prime time to check some of those pesky household chores off your to-do list. With the kids back in school, autumn is a time to wrap up all things summer and prepare for winter. This includes fall floor-to-ceiling cleaning, which is tedious but necessary work. Take solace knowing there's at least one quick task, and maybe even a little fun: power washing your home's exterior. With just five quick power washing projects, you can have your house sparkling clean and prepared to survive the winter.

With end-of-season projects in mind, check out the five most important power washing projects you should undertake to keep your home clean, protected, and ready for winter. You'll be surprised how satisfying power washing your house in the fall can be, and we promise you'll love the results.

Read more