How To Get Your Dog Used To Face Coverings
So, how do you teach your dog that people wearing face coverings aren’t scary?
Sooner or later, your dog is going to meet people wearing face coverings. Face coverings can worry dogs because they take in a lot of information from reading people’s facial expressions and it can be disconcerting if they aren’t sure about a person’s feelings and intentions.
When you teach dogs about anything that might be scary, you’ll find it best to take little steps towards your end goal and to make training into a fun game. Only move on to the next steps in the game when you’re sure your dog is happy with the current one. For instance, if you’d like your dog to feel happy walking past someone in the street who’s wearing a face covering, begin at home...
Read more about dog body language here.
- Choose a time when your dog is calm and paying attention. Have some rewards at hand. When they look at you, give them a reward, so they know something good is going on.
- Cover your face (but not your eyes) with your hand or arm for a moment. Without uncovering your face, reward your dog immediately, using your other hand. Then uncover your face and let your dog see that it’s just you under there!
- Cover your face again, but this time, give your dog praise from behind your hand, and reward them, before uncovering your face.
- Find a scarf or similar that you can wear around your neck and pull up over your face (again, keep your eyes uncovered). Reward your dog and speak to them whilst your face is covered, then pull down the scarf again so they can see it’s still you!
- With your face covered with the scarf, chat to your dog, move around, and give rewards every few seconds, before removing the scarf.
- Hook a face covering over one of your ears, reward your dog and then put the face covering over your face. Reward and talk to your dog for a few seconds, before removing it again.
- Put on the face covering and move around, chat to your dog and have a little game, then remove the mask again.
Make sure everyone in the house has a go at being the covered-up face, starting from the beginning, so that your dog understands that anyone wearing a face covering can still be their friend. Depending on how confident your dog is with different family members, this step might take more or less time than when you started right at the beginning, covering your own face.
Once your dog understands about face coverings, remember to reward calm behaviour when you see people outside the home wearing them.