Washing machines can seem scary to dogs that have a bad association or experience with the object or who are uneasy around loud noises.
Does your dog run and hide every time you start your washing machine or dryer? Are you looking for a way to calm your dog so that laundry can be a stress free experience for the both of you?
In this article we’ll take a closer look at why some dogs are scared of the washing machine, and what pet parents can do to alleviate the fear and calm their dog.
Reasons why a dog might be scared of the washing machine
If your dog freaks out around the washing machine it could be the noise that’s bothering them. If your dog becomes distressed or agitated around loud noises then they could have noise anxiety.
A dog with this condition would also be afraid during fireworks, thunder, sirens, or even the vacuum cleaner. If this is the case then it’s not so much the washing machine that’s bothering your dog, it’s the sound the object makes.
Symptoms of noise anxiety
Common symptoms of noise anxiety include:
- Running away to hide
- Abnormal panting
- Trying to run away to escape the noise
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms during loud noises then it’s likely they have noise anxiety.
Bad experience or association
It could be that your dog is afraid of the washing machine because of a bad association or experience related to it. Maybe something happened that your dog didn’t like the last time the washing machine was on, and he or she incorrectly associated this experience with laundry time.
How to treat a dog who is scared of the washing machine
Medication or natural calming aid
Medication or a natural calming aid can help calm your dog. These are best if you know you’re going to be in an environment with regular loud noises. If the washing machine strikes terror into your dog then a quick calming treat before you do laundry might be the trick
Another option is desensitization. Desensitization is a technique for behavior modification. To desensitize your dog to the washing machine, you gradually get them used to the sound it makes. Try playing with your dog in the room next to the washing machine as it runs. Once your dog is comfortable in that room, move them a little closer to the washing machine. Repeat this process until your dog is fully comfortable around the washing machine and dryer.
Counter conditioning is when you build positive associations with the washer machine for your dog, until it doesn’t scare them anymore. This could be as simple as playing with your dog or giving them a toy when the washer machine turns on. An occasional treat around the washing machine might also help.
Once your dog has enough good experiences around the washing machine, he or she will start to calm down during laundry time.