Clutching my shopping list and following the marked route through my local supermarket, I was lost in my own robotic world, wondering how I still managed to forget to pick up items even though I have to walk right past them.
My robotic world was pierced by an audible gasp as a couple backed away from a person walking towards them. The person in question was a man wearing a full-face gas mask. This look included beige swimming-cap-esque headwear, two giant eye-pieces and canister hiding the guy’s chin. He wouldn’t have looked out of place in the recent Chernobyl drama if it wasn’t for the shorts, t-shirt and sandals he was also wearing.
Now, I’m all for staying safe and if he feels safe, all power to him. However, it did make me realise that not only are we going to have to get used to seeing people wearing an array of new accessories, so are our dogs.
For many dogs, it only takes a beanie hat or a baseball cap for them to decide a person is a threat that must be extinguished.
While none of us knows what the coming weeks and months will bring – and it’s probably safe to assume gas masks won’t be standard for grocery shopping – the chance of seeing people wearing masks to cover their mouths/noses is going to increase and it’s only fair to our dogs to prepare them for this.
Start now, before the streets start to fill with mask-wearing humans. Let your dog see you put a mask on and wear it around the house. Reward them for calm responses and if you have other people in the house, ask them to practice in short bursts too. When you’re on walkies, have treats at the ready and when your dog sees someone wearing a mask, treat them, they’ll quickly learn the mask is nothing to be afraid of. Don’t wait and find out if your dog is worried by mask-wearing humans; prevention is better than cure!
As an aside, I did have to giggle, – quietly, after all, I was in the middle of a supermarket – as the gas-masked dude posed absolutely no threat and yet people were actively backing away and giving him more space. It was just like watching humans when they see a dog wearing a muzzle. I often walk with muzzled dogs and quite like the space it brings, so I might look into this gas-mask lark to make sure I can enjoy my space!