Beagle sat looking up at owner

How to get your dog used to face masks

With more people wearing face masks due to Covid-19, particularly on public transport. It’s important to get our pets used to us all looking a little different. 

While most animals will be fine and show no signs of even noticing face coverings, some dogs may be worried by the changes. Dogs can tell a lot about a person’s intentions by watching them, and they pay particular attention to facial expressions. So, when someone’s face is covered, it can seem strange to dogs.

How to get your dog used to you in a face mask

Here are some tips to help your dog become more familiar with face masks.

Randomly wear your mask

  • Pop your face mask or face covering on for five to 10 seconds sporadically through the day when you’re around your dog
  • Don’t draw your dog’s attention to what you are doing - act very casually like it’s a very normal thing to do - just like you’re putting on a scarf
  • Do this very regularly during the day and leave your face covering or mask out on the side for your dog to see

Include in daily activities 

As long as your dog looks relaxed when you pop on your face mask, begin to randomly wear it for short periods while doing normal activities, like cleaning or gardening. This will help prepare them for when you and others are wearing masks more often.

Training and tricks with a face mask

  • Once your dog looks comfortable with you wearing a face mask, start to wear it when you interact with or train them, so they get used to hearing your voice without seeing your expression
  • Begin by pulling your face mask down and then put it on properly for a few seconds at a time
  • Act naturally and remember to behave as you normally would – although they won’t be able to see some of your face, dogs still look at our eyes and our eyes are actually really expressive

How to get your dog used to others in face masks

Once your dog has become used to you wearing a face mask, you’ll need to get them used to others wearing them. 

  • Start by asking someone in your household, or a friend that you’re meeting up with, to pop a face mask on for short periods when you take your dog for a walk 
  • As above, it’s important that you both behave normally – this sends a very clear message to your dog that there is nothing to be concerned about
  • Gradually increase your dog’s exposure to people wearing masks by taking them to busier areas

Some dogs may not have any issues but for those who do, take things slowly before taking them on public transport where they’ll be exposed to a lot of people wearing masks.

— Page last updated 06/08/2021