Slowly but surely, life is going back to normal. Part of the ‘new normal’ is face masks – which your dog may find strange. Luckily, there are ways of helping dogs get used to seeing people in masks. Kathleen Pohl, a vet from Zetland Vets in Bristol and My Family Vets, explains further…
Now that face masks are becoming a staple of everyday life, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to seeing them. Here is a handy step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Let your dog see your mask
Start out by simply showing the mask to your dog. Simply hold it in your hand and let them take a closer look.
Once they’ve seen the mask, reward them with a treat. This will help them associate the sight of the mask with positive experiences.
Step 2: Put on your mask
Do this in front of your dog for now. Leave it on for a few seconds and remember to act natural.
Make sure you speak in an upbeat, pleasant voice. You can also try playing games, or engaging in fun activities while you’re wearing it.
Step 3: Repeat, repeat, repeat
Put on your mask in front of your dog multiple times, and at different parts of the day. Try it in the morning, at lunch time, then in the evening while you’re watching TV – this will help it to become a more common sight for your dog. Get your family members on board too. Try it one at a time so you don’t shock your furry friend too much.
Step 4: Walk into the room wearing your mask
Once your dog is comfortable, start to enter rooms while already wearing your mask. As ever, make sure you reward your dog when they see you. This will help them to associate the mask with fun, excitement and tasty treats.
Continue with this until your dog is happy, then start to enter and leave the house wearing your mask.
Step 5: Heading out for walks
Now your dog is happy with seeing you and your household in masks, you’ll have plenty of confidence when it comes to going out for walks. Take treats with you on your walks, and whenever you see a stranger wearing a mask, reward your dog with a tasty snack.
And remember… easy does it
Remember to take it slow, to act natural around your dog and to reward their positive behaviour. Be patient, and remember to stop if your dog seems stressed or uncomfortable.
With the right amount of patience and preparation, your dog will be used to seeing people wear masks in no time!
If you’re concerned about your dog’s behaviour or if they’re especially scared of face masks, have a chat with your vet.