In a world working together to help stop the spread of coronavirus, wearing a face mask for public outings has become mandatory and the new normal in a lot of places.
This is especially true in Melbourne, Houndztooth’s home base, where it is now mandatory to wear a face mask whenever you leave the house.
With so many people walking around wearing masks, you may notice your dog feeling a little confused – or even scared. As a dog owner, it’s important for you to help your precious pooch become comfortable around you and other people wearing masks.
Another important thing to note is that masks are for people, and not for dogs. There is little to no scientific evidence suggesting that animals can catch COVID-19, and putting a mask on your dog will only cause them unnecessary distress.
Wearing a mask inhibits facial communication
If you are one of the millions of people who have put on a face mask over the past few months, you will already know just how much it affects your daily communication.
Even when we don’t say anything at all, our facial expressions can say a lot. By wearing a mask, something as simple as a smile is lost behind a piece of fabric.
Because cities like Melbourne are unified in their mask-wearing, it’s easy for people to get used to wearing one and communicating without showing much of their face.
However, while we are becoming more and more accustomed to wearing face masks, our dogs might have a harder time adjusting.
Masks can be unnerving for dogs
Many dogs often look to their owners for reassurance when out walking, training, playing at the dog park or visiting the vet or the groomer. Not only do they listen for reassurance in your words, but they also look for it in your facial expression.
Since wearing a mask covers up most of your face, your dog won’t be able to find the familiar reassurance in your expression, which can create an understandably unnerving experience for them.
Introducing your new look to your dog
To help get your dog comfortable around you and your COVID-19 mask, let them smell one of your clean or unused masks and show them what it looks like by wearing one yourself for a short time around the house.
Use treats to encourage positive associations with your mask, and after introducing it to your dog, wash the mask again to make sure it’s clean.
When you take a walk or go to the local dog park, rather than relying on your facial expressions, use your voice – think about using kind words and a calm and happy tone – to reassure your precious pooch that everything is okay.
It’s always a good idea to have some clean dog treats on hand as well, just in case your four-legged friend starts to show signs of distress at the mask-wearing masses. Distract them with some tasty treats and reassure them that masks are not something to be afraid of.
Masks are for people, not dogs
Putting a mask on your dog, whether for walking purposes or for photos, is an absolute no-no. Though there’s a rising trend across social media of dog owners putting masks on their pets, it is not one you should follow.
Masks are for people, not pups, and putting one on your dog can inhibit their breathing (especially for brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs, Frenchies and pugs) and cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Forcing them to wear a mask when it isn’t required or for a quick photo is not a kind thing to do.
We wholeheartedly recommend that you continue wearing your mask – especially in places where it’s mandatory – and you can rest easy knowing that your furry friend will be a lot happier without one.
Wear your mask! But keep your dog’s snout free to sniff the fresh air
The canine crew at Houndztooth are passionate about people wearing masks to keep everyone safe. We are pleased to support our brand ambassador, Dr Katrina, and Pound Paws, who have partnered to create custom printed masks featuring your pet on the fabric!
You will find these masks being worn by Dog Mummas of your favourite Houndztooth brand ambassadors including Dave, Jax, Sherlock, Bronte and Bailey. Head to Petflair to find out more about purchasing one of these custom printed masks for yourself.
Wherever you are, whatever your mask regulations, remember to wash your hands regularly, wear your mask (whether it’s mandatory or because you choose to) and keep your dog’s snout mask-free so they feel comfortable and can enjoy the fresh outdoor air.