Have you taken out the broom, only to have your dog pounce on it and attack it? Although this is strange to us, many dogs have this reaction to the broom.
There are many reasons why dogs are scared of brooms, this article will dive into those reasons, as well as provide ways for you to help your dog become more comfortable around the sweeper.
So, Why are Dogs Scared of Brooms?
Typically, dogs are scared of brooms because they don’t understand them and because they make a sound when they move across the floor. Although humans get the purpose for a broom, that reason is not so obvious to our dogs.
In addition, if your dog has a strong prey drive, they may try and attack the broom as soon as it starts to sweep across the floor.
Reasons Why Dogs are Scared of Brooms
There is more than one reason why your dog may be scared of the broom, below you will get some of the most common reasons:
They don’t understand the purpose for the broom
One of the main reasons why dogs are scared of brooms is because they don’t understand them. This weird looking thing is moving across the floor making noise, to a dog it can be seen like a threat.
They could think they are protecting you by attacking the vacuum because they don’t know anything about keeping a floor clean. Although the purpose of a broom is clear to people it isn’t so clear to dogs.
It is something new
Another reason why dogs are scared of brooms is because it is something they haven’t seen before. Some dogs are fearful of new things, and other dogs take new things in stride.
If you have a dog that is a little more fearful of new things, seeing a broom for the first time could make them anxious.
The sound of the broom
Another reason is because brooms make noise. Even if the broom itself didn’t freak your dog out, the noise could.
Dogs have excellent hearing! So although the noise doesn’t sound like much to us, to dogs it is amplified, and could be enough to make your dog scared.
The wooden part looks like a stick
Some dogs love to play with sticks while others could care less. If your dog is a stick lover, your dog may attack the vacuum in an attempt to get the stick attacked to it to play with. In these cases, your dog is likely not scared, but being playful and trying to figure out how to get hold of the stick.
The broom seemingly moves on its own
Another big thing that scares dogs about brooms is their movement. We know we are in control of the broom, but from a dog’s perspective, they don’t know if it is moving on its own, or not.
To them, it can look like this weird contraption is out of control, and that can be unsettling for some dogs.
Why do Dogs Attack the Broom?
One main reasons a dog will attack a broom is similar to the reasons why dogs attack a vacuum. One of these reasons is that they have a strong prey drive. A dog with a strong prey drive is more likely to chase and pounce on anything that moves.
My dog has a strong prey drive and she once chased a plastic bag that was floating in the air. If it moves, they will get excited, so it may be harder for a dog with a strong prey drive to contain themselves around a moving broom.
Another reason is simply fear. Dogs have different experiences in life just like people do. Some dogs may have experienced some not so pleasant things with a broom, while other dogs may just lack confidence.
If your dog lacks confidence, any new thing is more likely to cause some anxiousness. Something like a broom that isn’t easily understood by dogs would fit into that category.
How to Introduce Your Dog to the Broom
Step 1: Introduce the broom to them slowly while it is not moving
A proper introduction is key to getting your dog to live in harmony with sweeping. Since humans know the purpose of the broom, we tend to just pull it out and start sweeping without any thought as to what our dog will think.
You should first introduce the broom to your dog while it is not moving and let your dog sniff it to start to be acclimated.
Step 2: Let the broom sit out in plain view
Second, you should let the broom sit out somewhere in plain view of the dog while it isn’t in use. This will allow your dog to get used to seeing the broom regularly and realize that it isn’t a threat.
Step 3: Use the broom slowly for a very short period at first – Reward calm behavior
How your dog reacts to these first steps will determine how long you should wait to move on to using the broom. Some people may find that a few days on the first two steps is sufficient, others may want to stay on those steps for longer if the dog isn’t getting used to the broom’s presence as quickly.
When you first use the broom around your dog, don’t sweep aggressively, use the broom very slowly. If you dog doesn’t react, great, you’ve done your job! Reward the good dog and keep sweeping!
If you dog does react, don’t panic, move on to the next steps below.
If didn’t follow the above steps to help your dog be comfortable with the broom in the beginning, don’t lose hope, your dog can still become at least tolerant of the broom. However, it will likely take more training and patience.
How to Help a Dog that Already Attacks the Broom
Teach the leave it command
The leave it command is a necessary command to teach your dog for a variety of situations, but it also comes in handy with broom training. Once your dog knows this command, you can use it to prevent your dog from attacking the vacuum.
Teach the quiet command
The quiet command is another great command to teach every dog. When it comes to brooms, this command can help if your dog likes to bark at the broom.
Some dogs may need to learn both commands, whereas others may only need one, your dog’s reaction will indicate which command you should teach your dog.
Reintroduce the broom using the leave it command and reward calm behavior
After your dog knows the leave it command, reintroduce the broom with the steps above. When it is time for step 3, tell your dog to leave it, before slowly beginning to sweep. For many dogs, they may not be happy, but they will learn to leave the broom alone when its moving around.
Remember to still keep the slow sweeping session very short in the beginning, and reward for any clam behavior immediately.
Reintroduce the broom using the quiet command and reward quiet behavior
If your dog is more vocal, after learning the quiet command, slowly reintroduce the broom. Before step 3, give your dog the quiet command, then slowly start sweeping.
Remember to keep the sweeping to short sessions and reward immediately if your dog stays quiet.
Repeat with patience
This may be a slow process. If you go too fast, your dog may not be able to restrain themselves for a long time in the beginning.
Once they learn the broom won’t cause any harm over many slow periods of introduction and use, a lot of dogs will eventually become unbothered by the broom.
While you are in this training process it is important to not use the broom for a prolonged period of time, keep it short. Only use the broom for a minute or less increments, reward good behavior, then you can gradually increase the time period of use if your dog remains calm.
What if the Above Steps Don’t Work for your Dog?
The best time to desensitize a dog to the broom is as a puppy or when you first bring your dog home. It is harder after they have already been exposed to and developed behaviors around the broom.
There are some dogs, that are already so worked up for whatever reason, that they may never learn to like or even tolerate the broom.
If you’ve tried the steps above, and your dog still attacks wants to attack the broom, you may have to accept that fact that your dog and the broom won’t be best buds.
You can put your dog in another room while you sweep or sweep while the dog is out of the house, but there are workarounds. Every dog is different and some dogs no matter what you try they want no parts of that weird sweeping device.
Dogs can be scared of brooms for a variety of different reasons. Usually, those reasons stem from confusion about the broom, fear, or the sound it makes when it moves across the floor.
To help your dog adjust to the broom, be sure to introduce the broom properly to your dog. Teaching commands such as leave it and quiet can help for those dogs that take longer to get comfortable around the sweeper.
Be patient! It may take some dogs quite a bit of training before they calm down around a moving broom.
Finally, some dogs will just never be best buds with the broom, and that is ok too. If this is your dog, find times to sweep when you dog is out or otherwise occupied.