With many states recommending or mandating the use of face masks, we need to consider this impact on our pups. To dogs, face masks can be scary, confusing or even triggering. Did you know that many dogs interact with people based on the human’s facial expressions.
Dog trainer Meg Marrs, founder of K9ofmine.com, shares these tips for pet parents:
“The key to getting dogs used to individuals with facemasks is the same way that any dog needs to be adjusted to new stimuli—basically, desensitization and counter-conditioning!
Start out by putting on a mask yourself and seeing how your dog reacts. If they seem relatively comfortable, you can toss them a few treats. Show them that good stuff comes from masked people!
If they seem a bit nervous, toss the treats far away from you so that the dog isn’t forced to come closer to the scary creature in order to get the treats, potentially pushing them over their threshold.
If the dog is really scared of you wearing a mask, have a friend wear a mask while standing far away from you, and feed your dog treats while they look at the masked figure.
Once you have that down, just apply the same principles out on your walks. If you see a masked individual, give your dog plenty of distance to feel safe and reward her with treats. Build up the positive association with masked people and your dog won’t mind masks in no time!”
Be sure to pay close attention when out on walks or in public spaces. You want to avoid your dog being surprised by a stranger with a mask. Always be an advocate for your dog by never forcing them to interact if they seem worried or hesitant.
Let’s Walk Chicago is determined to help our fur clients feel at ease during this period of uncertainty. Contact us today to set up a social-distanced meet and greet to learn more.