Introducing your dog to a face mask

During this time where many people are at home, you might find yourself looking for something new to try with your dog – inside your home or outside in a garden. There are lots of fun games you and your dog can do together to keep you both happy and healthy. Take a look at some suggestions here from Adem Fehmi at Dog-ease Training and Behaviour.

Here is another easy game for you to prepare and play with your dog. All you will need are some small to medium-sized boxes, a lead, some treats or your dog’s food, and a secure object to secure your ‘washing line’ game to. For smaller breeds, adjust the size of the cardboard boxes or use items such as toilet roll innards. You may also want to swap your lead for a piece of twine or string.

It is important to ensure that, whatever the scenario, we remember that what we may take for granted as the ‘normal’ (or the ‘new normal’ in current times!) our dogs might find strange and/or worrying. They don’t always understand things the way we do.

As owners, we need to think one step ahead for our dogs and set our dogs up to be confident in whatever situations they might find themselves in.

At present, we are seeing an increase in people wearing face masks and on our daily walks our dogs might encounter people wearing these or perhaps scarves obscuring people’s faces - something they may never have encountered before. As a result I thought I would put together a short tutorial on how you can acclimatise and desensitise your dog to this new experience and ensure that they do not become worried or afraid when seeing these items on people’s faces.

As always, work at your dog’s pace, at distance to begin with, and reward their positive, calm and accepting behaviour so that they can make positive associations with the item or object. This will help them to ‘figure out’ the stimulus and understand that it is nothing to be worried about, building their confidence.

This principle can be applied to introducing and desensitising your dog to a range of items, not just the face mask seen in this video. Think about what your dog needs and what they might experience in a day, or need to be confident around after lockdown is over, and tailor your training to address this.

As always, let us know if you try this game out and tag @thekennelclubuk or @dogtoradem in your videos. We would love to see your dogs having fun and also what objects you come up with!

Dogtor Adem
Dog-ease Training & Behaviour

*All training is attempted at the owner’s risk and Adem Fehmi accepts no liability for any injuries to pets or owners sustained during training. If your dog is showing signs of a behavioural issue please seek professional advice.


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