Dogs Trust issues advice for dog owners wearing face masks

Dogs Trust is offering advice to dog owners to help their pets adjust when they can’t see our faces.

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity is urging dog owners to get their dogs used to seeing face coverings as part of daily life, as new government legislation makes face masks mandatory for people using public transportation.

With new rules coming into force and countless people heading back to work, this will be a big adjustment for the masses, as well as our canine friends, if they are unable to see or read human facial expressions.

Dogs are very good at reading our facial expressions to tell how humans are feeling, so if face masks become part of their owner’s everyday lives; and suddenly people’s faces are covered, your dog could become confused or concerned because they cant see or potentially hear us clearly when spoken o.

Dogs Trust has come up with some helpful tips for introducing dogs to people wearing face masks.

Before starting, remember to take it slow, make sure your dog is always relaxed and reward them with treats.

Step 1 – hold your hand over your face for a moment, then reward your dog.

Step 2 – hold your hand over your face and talk to your dog, then reward them.

Step 3 – cover your face with a scarf or bandana for a little longer. Reward your dog.

Step 4 – start to move around the room with your face covered. Reward your dog.

Step 5 – introduce face masks. Let your dog see your tying it on, talk to them and move around. Don’t forget to reward them.

Step 6 – repeat from the beginning for other family members and in different places, like outside in the garden.

When getting your dog used to children wearing masks, an adult should always supervise and be responsible for rewarding the dog. They should also ensure the environment is safe, either by putting their dog on a lead or by separating them using a baby gate.

Dr Jenna Kiddie, Head of Behaviour at Dogs Trust said: “As face masks become an increasingly common sight in our daily lives, we should make sure our dogs are also able to take this in their stride – without being able to see full faces a dog is less able to interpret human emotion or our intentions. With Government social distancing guidelines firmly in place, it is also useful to be aware of how these apply to our dogs, especially when out on their walks near shops or public transport routes, where they are likely to see people wearing masks.

“Although there is no current evidence that dogs can transmit the human Coronavirus (Covid-19) to humans, like any other surface dogs can carry the virus on their leads, collars or coats.”

With shops on the high street beginning to open again and public transport also being used more frequently, the temptation may be there to take your dog with you on these journeys. Dogs Trust recommends that before making this journey, dog owners give serious consideration to how essential it is their pet accompany them, while checking the travel operator’s latest policy on travelling with pets.

Jenna continues: “We urge people to consider whether their dog really needs to go on public transport with them. Getting dogs used to being on public transportation with people wearing masks, whilst not interacting as much, is a lot for our canine companions to take in. If they haven’t fully adjusted to this, it can be frustrating for them to suddenly receive less attention from people when out with their household, as these individuals try to adhere to social distancing guidelines.”

As high street shops are likely to have a reduced maximum capacity for the number of customers they can hold, Dogs Trust is advising that dog owners plan their walking times around the busiest periods, so their dog doesn’t have to stand in or pass by lengthy queues outside of shops.

Likewise, it is also important that dogs aren’t tied by their leads and left outside of shops, as this could cause them to become distressed, or even create an inviting opportunity for dog theft.

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