Dog behaviors and reactions can be challenging to understand. Have you ever noticed that your dog gets extremely nervous whenever you bring the broom out to clean? There is barking and pouncing, which can make doing your daily chores a challenge. Also, it’s never good seeing your furry friend anxious. Several years of observation and research have given us insight into this behavior.
Dogs Don’t Know What A Broom Is
First, your dog might not understand what a broom is. What is its purpose? The unfamiliarity will lead to them being jumpy around the object. Seeing new things can have various reactions from your dog; they could project the fight, flight and freeze responses. The fight response is actions like barking and, in some case biting.
This reaction can come off as aggressive depending on the intensity of fear or excitement your dog feels. The flight is a reaction away from the object, like running away or hiding when you take the vacuum or, in this case, the broom out. And lastly, the freeze response is when your dog will standstill because of anxiety.
Brooms Make Sounds That Can Scare Dogs
Apart from the broom being a new and strange object, the sweeping sound it makes can also be triggering for some dogs. This unfamiliar sound will keep their sense heightened. Dogs have incredible hearing, so even if the sweeping noise doesn’t bother us, it is amplified for the dog. Also, for dogs, a broom might look like it’s moving on its own, which can be unsettling. A 2014 research observed that abused dogs are more fearful of people than objects and present cowering and meek responses.
Whereas dogs that have not been used show fear of inanimate objects like the broom and tend to show more aggressive behavior like biting or barking. To curb this habit, dogs need to be socialized and desensitized to everyday objects by positive reinforcements.
You might feel that your dog’s stressed response to a broom might be because of a past traumatic experience. This can be true in some cases; for example, if you adopt an older dog from an abusive household, they might find objects like the broom scary. On the other hand, new things can be nerve-wracking if your dog has a nervous personality.
Dogs Barking At Brooms Could Be Genetic!
There is an even more interesting explanation for why your dog fears brooms. It could be genetic! All dogs are born with a prey drive. The term prey drive refers to your dog’s level of excitement to perform a task involving hunting-related behaviors. The intensity of the prey drive depends on the dog’s breeding.
Hunting and K-9 dogs have been bred and socialized to engage this innate habit. This habit is also the reason dogs are so well adept at being herding animals. Typical pet dogs are less intense. However, this drive cannot wholly be erased. You must have noticed your dog chasing after squirrels or
The movement of the broom can resemble that of prey. The erratic patterns of the broom’s movement are also reminiscent of rope toys designed to excite your dog. Like how your dog acts around a rope or plush toy, they will react with the broom. Some will bark, chase and try to bite the broom.
You could try to curb this behavior by moving the broom in a non-prey-manner and creating a regular systemic fashion that is not erratic like prey. This will result in your dog not engaging his prey’s drive to chase, bite or bark at the broom.
How To Help Your Dog Stay Calm Around Brooms
However, socialization is the most effective solution to help your dog get over their fears of brooms and other inanimate objects. Poorly socialized dogs will respond to unfamiliar things with the three fear responses discussed above. Socializing your dog is essential to make your life calmer and more manageable and for the dog as it helps them with their anxiety and other behavioral issues that can lead to harm.
Most people believe that socialization is having two dogs interact, but there is more to it. Doggy dates might help dogs learn common dog behaviors, but to help your dog conquer his fear of brooms and other objects, it’s necessary to start training them effectively.
This type of socialization requires several steps that can gradually curb your dog’s fears. You do this by introducing new objects to the dog slowly over time and reinforcing good reactions by using treats. It would help if you allowed them to approach the thing, let it smell and even lick it in this case, as dogs make sense of the world around them through their sense of smell and taste. Its best to start this training when the puppy is young; however, older dogs can also develop these habits with some patience.
Also, many dog owners can sometimes encourage behaviors like chasing or biting objects as it can be amusing; try not to do this as it will only make your dog engage more in this behavior. You will have to do the work to make sure your dog is no longer scared of brooms!