This article is presented by Roborock.
Owning a cat or dog can make simple household tasks more complicated than they need to be. Take vacuuming: If your pet is afraid of loud noises, it may be impossible to clean your home without triggering their fight-or-flight response. But this isn’t exactly a chore you can skip, especially since your pet also probably leaves hair all over your floors and couches.
Instead of neglecting your floors, Mental Floss and Roborock have teamed up to help you understand why your pet hates your robot vacuum and provide you with five tips for fixing the problem.
Why your pet is scared of your robot vacuum
To understand why your cat or dog can’t stand your vacuum, it helps to view the world through their perspective. Unless they were exposed to vacuums in a safe environment when they were young, they likely don’t know what to make of the strange machines. Robot vacuums, in particular, look and smell like objects, but they move like they’re alive. Many animals will respond to this confusing device with fear.
Another reason vacuums cause panic is the noise they make. Dogs have much sharper hearing than humans, so if your robot vacuum sounds loud to you, it will be extra overstimulating for your pup. Pets that have had negative experiences with the appliances—such as being chased or rammed with one—are also more likely to be scared around them.
Animals deal with their fear in different ways. Your pet may attack your vacuum like it’s an intruder, or they may hide under the bed for the rest of the day. No matter their response, it is possible to get them used to the vacuum and keep them calm. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Don’t punish your pet for being scared.
The worst way to handle your pet’s vacuum anxiety is by punishing them for their reaction. Even if they respond with unwanted behavior—such as lunging at the vacuum or having an accident indoors—resist the urge to yell at them. This will only strengthen the negative association your pet has with the vacuum.
2. Leave the robot vacuum out when you’re not using it.
To make your pet more comfortable around your robot vacuum, you need to desensitize them to it. One way to do this is to expose your cat or dog to the device when you’re not using it. By leaving the vacuum in an open area instead of storing it in a closet, your pet will start to view it as another piece of furniture. This also gives them an opportunity to investigate the appliance on their own time under less stressful circumstances.
3. Separate your pet from the vacuum if you need to.
If you need to vacuum during the training process, don’t be afraid to move your pet to a separate part of the house. Doing this will ease their fears while making your life a lot easier. Make sure to leave them with a treat or toy they love to distract them and create positive associations. You can even have someone else in the room with them to give your pet treats and praise whenever the vacuum gets too loud. You can also schedule your robot vacuum to clean only while you and your dog are out for a walk, at the park, or going to doggy daycare.
A robot vacuum like the Roborock S6 Max also allows you to control your cleaning schedule ahead of time, so you can have it turn on only while you and your dog are out for a walk, at the park, or going to doggy daycare.
4. Reward your pet with treats and praise.
Positive reinforcement is the key to getting your pet to associate vacuum time with good feelings. Start by rewarding them with lots of treats and praise every time they go near the stationary vacuum on their own. Make sure not to force them next to it if they’re still skittish, as this will only increase their stress and create more negative associations. Positive reinforcement can be used whenever your pet has vacuum anxiety, whether they’re right next to it or hearing it from a different room. Using your pet’s most high-value treats as a reward is a good way to get them feeling comfortable more quickly.
5. Take things slow.
Breaking out the treat bag won’t soothe your pet’s panic right away. That’s why it helps to start positive reinforcement in a safe setting —like when the vacuum is quiet and still—before applying it to your regular cleaning routine. Give your cat or dog plenty of chances to warm up to the object before moving on to the next step. When you do introduce potentially stressful elements, do it one at a time. After they get used to the stationary robot vacuum, start moving it while it’s still off. Rewarding them while the vacuum is on and moving can be the final stage—but keep in mind that it may take a while to get there.
Treat yourself to hassle-free, automated cleaning with Roborock’s range of robot vacuums. Choose from the Roborock S4 Max, complete with a multi-level mapping system that automatically recognizes the different levels of your home; the S5 Max, which features an electric water pump for smart mopping; or the S6 Max, featuring both a smart mopping system and twin cameras that help it avoid obstacles around the home. And on August 13 only, the company is running a special promotion on Amazon where you can save up to 31 percent on all three models.