How can I help my dog cope with people wearing masks and face-coverings?

As the number of people wearing masks and face-coverings out and about due to the Covid-19 outbreak increases, we need to be mindful of how scary this can be for dogs.

Dogs are masters of body language. They have an uncanny ability to assess our emotional state by looking at both bodies and faces. They are used to seeing our lips move when we speak, our teeth when we smile, and how our face shape changes due to our breathing, etc.

When we wear masks, our dogs can no longer be sure of our or anybody else’s intentions, and this can cause real anxiety and a negative reaction in some dogs. On top of this, some of the masks that people are wearing are scary in their own right due to the chosen colour and design.

Building a positive association between your dog and masks

We need to do all we can to prepare our dogs for this new ‘normal’ and help them learn that masks or facial coverings are nothing to be afraid of.

You can start by just showing your dog a mask and then giving them a tasty treat. Once they are comfortable, lift the mask up to your face and again give your pooch a tasty treat.

Once your dog is comfortable with you wearing a variety of face coverings, he or she will be more prepared for seeing them when out and about. However, your training doesn’t stop there. For the next few weeks, give your dog a treat every time you pass someone who is wearing a mask. The aim of the training is to build a positive association between your dog and masks, so you can reduce or even eradicate any anxiety that seeing them might cause

Looking for more advice?

If you are experiencing issues with your dog’s behaviour, or you have any other questions about caring for a pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us for free advice.

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