Dogs That Are Mildly Fearful Of The Mask
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
We are all living in a world of change. Never did anyone think that we would be wearing mask and taking extra precautions to be safe.
I walked into a pet supply store today. As I entered I notice this Chihuahua looking at me and I was smiling as I spoke to the dog. Not even thinking, I just moved on and quickly gathered up the items I needed. Then I stood behind the woman with the Chihuahua I noticed the dog looking up at me. That is when I thought to myself it must be the mask I am wearing.
The dog was not barking at me but just looked up at me. As I stood their waiting I placed my items on the counter. I understand that dogs can be fearful of a scary stimuli in their eyes. Many times I have used behavior modification to help dogs around a broom, vacuum cleaners and other things that they are reactive to.
If a dog is only mildly fearful of something, counterconditioning just might be what is needed. This is where you use pieces of food the dog just loves and it could be a favorite toy too. I explain to clients when I am setting up a plan, the goal is to get the dog in view of the scary object like a broom that moves. But in this situation I am talking about a mask.
I will first let the dog touch the mask and say "YES" I always use that verbal reward marker. Then give the dog a treat. Then put the mask on and say "YES" and treat the dog. Then take the mask off and continue with this exercise for a few minutes and put the mask away. Doing this makes the scary mask a more pleasant and yummy experience for the dog.
If your dog is extremely stressed and just will not take treats that is when the training changes. If your dog is so stressed they will have nothing to do with treats or a toy, I recommend you contact a certified dog trainer for help to get a plan set up. You never want to push your dog over threshold.
Those mask can be scary just like a man with a beard or lady with a hat.
Mecca Curtice, CCDT, CTDI
© 2020 Mecca Curtice Mecca's All Breed Dog Training, LLC.