As any dog owner will know, a global pandemic isn’t just difficult for us but can be hard on our pets too. One of the most difficult things for our furry friends to get used to is how different we look with facemasks on. Our dogs usually use our facial expressions to read and react to our emotions, so introducing masks all of a sudden can be confusing and frightening for pets.
However, as long as you familiarise your dog with facemasks slowly and patiently, your pets will soon come to see your facemask as nothing unusual, but part of everyday life. Even in unexpected circumstances, Benchmark Kennels are here to support you with the advice you need to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Step One: Start with the basics
Just like with anything new, introducing masks slowly and steadily will help your dog get used to them. To begin with, put your hand over your nose and mouth for a few seconds, make sure your dog can see what you’re doing, and then give them a treat. Letting your dog make the connection between your face mask and treats helps build positive associations, so they become more comfortable with the way you look while wearing one.
Step Two: Let your dog hear you speak
Because dogs learn how we feel by reading our facial expressions, it can be confusing for them to hear our voices, without seeing our mouths move. Once your dog has seen you lift your hands to your mouth, and they seem happy and comfortable, you can begin speaking to them or calling their name. When they recognise your voice even with your nose and mouth covered, you can give them another treat.
Step Three: Put your mask on casually
Now your dog has got used to the idea of your face being part-covered, it’s time to let them get acquainted with your mask itself. Let your dog see your mask, and watch you put it on. That way, they’ll get used to the whole process of you putting your mask on, and better know what to expect when you’re in contact with others wearing masks. Make sure to speak and act normally when you wear your facemask, too. Our pets can tell when we’re anxious, so acting as you usually would day-to-day when you’re wearing your mask lets them know there’s nothing for you or them to be worried about.
This part of the process might take a little more time, as your face being covered can be quite disorientating for your animals. You might have to repeat the process a few times, and you should be prepared with a supply of treats to help reward your dog when they recognise you.
Step Four: Let your dog see your mask for themselves
Once your dog is more used to seeing you in your mask, you can begin to wear it every now and again around the house. It’s important to do this casually, letting your dog see that your mask is just part of ordinary life, and so not something to be nervous about.
You should also leave your mask around the house when you can, so your dog can clearly see that it is going to be a regular part of your home, without being too wary of it. In this way, they can sniff out the situation for themselves, orientating themselves with the mask in their own time.
Step Five: Gradually introduce your dog to other people
It’s really important that your dog gets regular exercise during lockdown and as social restrictions continue. When you’re on walks, in the park or out and about, your dog is likely to interact with other dogs and their owners. To stop your pet feeling nervous or lashing out when you’re out in public, start off with a walk with a friend or family member you see regularly. Introducing familiar people in masks in the same way as you did will help your dog get used to the idea at a steady pace.
When you see anyone wearing a mask while you’re out walking, give your dog a treat. This will help them feel relaxed, and associate wearing a mask with something happy, rather than something they should be worried about.
Choose a custom-made kennel to suit your dog’s needs
Benchmark Kennels offer a range of WPC eco-thermal kennels to make sure your dog stays happy and healthy. Each of our kennels can be customised to become the perfect fit in your home. Get in touch to order your luxury kennel today.