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Trusty tips for dog owners

Dogs Trust is urging dog owners to get their dogs used to seeing face coverings as part of daily life. Photo submitted
Dogs Trust is urging dog owners to get their dogs used to seeing face coverings as part of daily life. Photo submitted

BE prepared – that's the motto from Dogs Trust as it urges dog owners to get their dogs used to seeing face coverings as part of daily life, now face masks are mandatory for people using public transport.

The charity – with centres at Evesham and Honiley near Kenilworth – highlights how dogs are very good at reading facial expressions to tell how humans are feeling.

If face masks become part of their owner’s everyday lives and suddenly people’s faces are covered, your dog could become confused or concerned because they can’t see or potentially even hear us clearly when spoken to.

It has come up with some tips for introducing dogs to people wearing face masks.

Before starting, it says remember to take it slow, make sure your dog is always relaxed and reward them with treats.

Step 1 - Hold your hand over your face for a moment and then reward your dog

Step 2 - Hold your hand over your face and talk to your dog, then reward them

Step 3 - Cover your face with a scarf or bandana for a little longer. Reward your dog

Step 4 - Start to move around the room with your face covered. Reward your dog.

Step 5 - Introduce the face masks. Let your dog see you tying it on, talk to them and move around. Don’t forget to reward them.

Step 6 - Repeat from the beginning for other family members and in different places, like outside in the garden.

It adds that when getting your dog used to children wearing masks, an adult should always supervise and be responsible for rewarding the dog. They should also ensure the environment is safe, either by putting their dog on a lead or by separating them using a baby gate.

The charity's head of behaviour Dr Jenna Kiddie said: “As face masks become an increasingly common sight in our daily lives, we should make sure our dogs are also able to take this in their stride – without being able to see full faces a dog is less able to interpret human emotion or our intentions.

"With government social distancing guidelines firmly in place, it is also useful to be aware of how these apply to our dogs, especially when out on their walks near shops or public transport routes, where they are likely to see people wearing masks.

“Although there is no current evidence that dogs can transmit coronavirus to humans, like any other surface dogs can carry the virus on their leads, collars or coats.”

With more shops open and public transport being used more frequently, the charity added that the temptation may be there to take your dog with you on these journeys.

It recommends that before making this journey, dog owners give serious consideration to how essential it is their pet accompany them, while checking the travel operator’s latest policy on travelling with pets.

It is also advising dog owners plan their walking times around the busiest periods, so their dog doesn’t have to stand in or pass by lengthy queues outside of shops.

Likewise, it is also important that dogs aren’t tied by their leads and left outside of shops, as this could cause them to become distressed, or even create an opportunity for dog theft.

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