How to help your pet get used to your new face mask

Have you ever brought something new home, like a doorstop or a maybe a kitchen toaster, and your dog won’t stop barking? Or maybe the lovely new couch you purchased has the cat hiding in your room for days. 

Our pets thrive off familiarity and comfort. They are highly tuned to sights, sounds and smells, and are quick to notice when something is new in their environment. In some pets, fearfulness of new objects can manifest in reactive behaviour, like barking, or it can cause other animals to retreat to a place of comfort, like under your bed. 

With masks now mandatory in some areas and recommended in most, pets may feel a bit unsure with this change, as your face is one of the main ways they communicate with you. 

The team at RSPCA Victoria has put together some tips to help your pet get used to the ‘new you’. 

Give them time to adjust 

Pets usually respond well to change when it is slow or gradual. Try wearing your face mask around the house for short periods of time, increasing the amount of time you wear the mask each day.

Make sure your pet has the time to explore the mask, sniffing, touching it, or move away if they want to.  

Make mask time a positive experience  

When someone at home wears a mask, pair this with a positive reward such as a treat. You should never force your pet into doing anything, rather reward them for simply investigating the mask. 

With plenty of treats on hand you should be able to reward them for looking at you or interacting with you when your mask is on. 

Try again tomorrow

If your pet is still unsure about the mask, remove them from the situation and try again tomorrow. It’s okay to go back a couple of steps to a point where they are comfortable and then try to build them back up again. 

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