There is no doubt, the recent weeks have been strange and stressful for all of us. Coming months will also likely bring more changes and adjustments in our lifestyles for both us and our pets.
One of the new sights that you might increasingly be encountering out on walks may be people wearing CDC-recommended face masks or other facial coverings. You may be getting used to this new sight yourself, so imagine how strange it may look to your canine companion, who is suddenly wondering why humans look so different.
Help your dog out by getting them used to facial coverings at home with familiar people. Put on a mask, bandana, buff, etc. and give your dog treats or engage them in a favorite game. If you see any signs of discomfort, go slow – maybe only partially cover your face at first – and be sure to reward with lots of good treats.
Out on walks, if you notice your dog seems nervous of someone approaching, increase distance (we are practicing social distancing anyway . . . ) and offer some tasty treats as the person passes. When your dog looks to you for hot dogs when they see someone in a mask, you know you are getting the emotional response you want!
By Angela Schmorrow, HSHV Behavior Specialist