Another post that me and Miyagis Dog Training and Behaviourist Services have put together!
A hot topic at the moment that most places we will have to wear face masks so it is important that we get our dogs used to people in a mask, we are seeing more people wearing face coverings when out and about so it is good to start desensitising our dogs.
1. It is always best to start training in a place with low distractions such as in the house to begin with make sure you have some rewards handy. When they look at you, give them a reward, so they know something good is going to happen and the conditioning can begin.
2. Cover your face (but not your eyes) with your hand, without uncovering your face, reward your dog immediately, using your other hand (the one not covering your face). Then uncover your face and let your dog see that it’s just you under there and nothing scary.
3. Cover your face again, but this time, give your dog praise from behind your hand, and reward them, before uncovering your face.
4. 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!
5. With your face covered with the scarf, chat to your dog, move around, and give rewards every few seconds, before removing the scarf
5. Play with the face mask and twiddle so your dog can see the item is none threatening. Hold it to your face and speak to your dog whilst rewarding with the other hand.
6. Hook the face mask over one of your ears, reward your dog and then put the mask over your face. Reward and talk to your dog for a few seconds, before removing it again.
7. Put on the mask and move around, chat to your dog and have a little game, then remove the mask again.
Remember!!! If your dog looks uncomfortable at any point take a break go back a few steps this can take some time for our dogs to get used to so we don’t want to rush the training.
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 mask 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.
If your dog growls or scrunches in their body language, ears pinned back or runs away. Stop! Also make sure the dog has an escape route too. Leave the session there do not try to go further.
Once your dog understands about face masks, remember to reward calm behaviour when you see people outside the home wearing them.