Face coverings could become the norm, and what will poor doggy do then?
The changes to our lives over the last few weeks and months keep coming and amongst the more recent edicts for containing the spread of the Covid-19 virus is the requirement to wear a face covering on public transport and the recommendation to wear one in places where it is difficult to remain socially distant. Restrictions on who we can mix with and spend time with are changing all the while and if we are allowed to start going into each-others homes human face coverings could become a part of everyday life to protect our family and friends.
What does this mean for our pets? Well the goldfish probably won’t notice and the cat probably won’t care – although they may silently judge our style choices; but what of our dogs?
The way we communicate with our dogs depends upon a whole range of signals including facial expressions and tone of voice. A face covering will make a difference to both of these and may worry some dogs. We will need to train them not to be afraid so that it does not become a problem if, as owners, we have to wear a covering or they are likely to encounter family and friends wearing a covering, or their VIPPIES carer chooses to (or is required to) wear one.
As with any new experience they will need encouragement. It’s a bit like teaching them a new trick.
- Let them have a look at different face coverings and have a sniff, but not play with them – then reinforce this as a positive experience with treats, petting and verbal encouragement.
- The next step is to put the covering on your face, but only partially so they can still see it is you – repeat the treats, petting and verbal encouragement that work best for your dog.
- If all goes well you can put the covering on properly and let them have a treat and petting session with you wearing it. Your verbal encouragement will have to go up a gear wearing a covering as it will muffle your voice a little so be extra enthusiastic and ‘lovey it up darling’!
- Play with them wearing the covering and then gradually introduce others to them wearing face coverings.
Every dog will be different so you may need to repeat some of the stages to prepare them for if, and probably when, face coverings become more widespread.
There are all kinds of face coverings available to buy or make for yourself. The advice is to go for something that offers three layers – one of which (usually in the middle) should be disposable – paper kitchen towels can work and the discreet Lady Tena (other brands are available!) is ideal as it offers the all-important waterproof layer. Bandanas can be adapted and tied very easily securing the central layer in place.
Let’s hope this doesn’t last for much longer but we all have to do what we can – including our pets.