Helping your dog adjust to face masks

by Jen Melton August 03, 2020

Making face masks less scary for dogs

I was out in the yard yesterday and needed to make a repair, well it got a little over my head so I had to call in reinforcement, aka my dad.  Not wanting to pass any germs along to him I donned a face mask and got to work.  I looked up, expecting Elsa (my German Shepherd) to be underfoot and she was nowhere to be found.  I called her and she came cowering over. It took me a minute to figure out the culprit, my face mask.

Minimizing the spread of Covid-19 means face masks are here to stay for a while.  From runners on the street, people walking by the car and yard, and grocery clerks, masks are everywhere.  So how do we get our dogs to not be fearful of the masks? 

Have you noticed how hard it is talking to someone with a mask?  You can’t see them smile, and it’s harder to read into what they are saying to us.  Well...same goes for dogs.  They watch our facial expressions and body language as much as they hear our voices.  Without seeing what you are saying, they have a harder time interpreting what you want from them.

Like any dog training, the key is for them to associate your new mask with fun.  So here’s how to proceed.

  1. Show them your mask, let them sniff it and give them a treat. Do this several times throughout the day until they seem ambivalent about the mask.
  2. Hand the mask from one ear. They can still see you and also the mask.  Do this several times and always accompany it with lots of happy voices and treats.
  3. Wear the mask over your nose or forehead and again happy voices and treats. Once this is OK with your dog proceed to step 4.
  4. Put the mask on and again give your pup treats and let them hear your happy voice. As they get comfortable, get down on the floor with them and give them belly rubs or play a game of fetch. Make the first time wearing your mask a short stint. Then do it again a little later.
  5. Take your dog out for a walk. Put your mask on and head out safely and happily.  

If your dog is like mine, they will soon associate the mask with walks, belly rubs and treats and the world will be ok again.  Another good thing to remember is that when you are smiling your eyes are more relaxed and your dog will be able to read that as well

If you need a mask we are selling them here and, like everything Sam & Nala sells, they have a story.  Even better, you can even match your mask to your dog's banana.  How stylish! 

Stay safe!

Jen Melton
Jen Melton