How to Train a Dog to be Comfortable With Face Masks

We’re all adjusting to a new “masked” reality, but some dogs might not cope so easily. Can we train a dog to be comfortable with face masks? Here’s how!

All over the world, the lockdown measures are starting to be lifted. In order to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, governments are encouraging citizens to use masks every time they leave their homes – whether as a requirement or suggestion.

So, not only will our furry friends have to deal with separation anxiety once we start going back to work… It is beyond obvious that we and our pets will also encounter plenty of new “faces” during our regular walks. 

For the average dog, this won’t be a big deal at all. However there are still plenty of canines who will find this new outfit strange, which may induce fear, anxiety or even aggressiveness.

So if your buddy usually gets uncomfortable with people when their appearance is odd, it is highly recommended for you to teach them that individuals wearing a mask are nothing to be afraid of! 🙂

Here’s a step by step guide to train a dog to be comfortable with face masks:

  1. Make sure the first training sessions take place at home, in a quiet environment.
  2. Present the mask you are going to use to your dog, and give them the most delicious treat as a positive reinforcement. Keep in mind that the treat you have chosen should only be used for this item’s training process.
  3. Keep giving treats while your dog exhibits a calm behaviour while you present them the mask.
  4. Start gradually putting on the mask – start by holding only one strap on one ear. Make sure the dog is aware that you are wearing it. Give treats if they stay calm – if not, go back to step 2 and 3.
  5. If everything is going smoothly, you may now hold the second strap and properly adjust the mask. Don’t forget the treats!
  6. When your dog is completely fine at home, repeat the process outdoors. It will be more challenging since there will be plenty of people wearing masks. So if this is really a struggle, start the outside tutoring during the less crowded hours of the day.
  7. That’s it! Ideally, you should repeat the process with different types of masks.

As is the case with any other teaching exercise, do remind yourself to stay calm and relaxed. Frustration will only make things harder. If that feeling starts to grow on you, just breath in and out and leave it for later! You can train your dog to be comfortable with face masks gradually.

As always, our Findster Care vet team is always available to help! 🙂