Courtesy photo

Hi, I’m Mia! I’m a three-year-old Pitbull mix. Despite the fact that I’m a happy, fun loving lady, who I might add is easy on the eyes, I’m still waiting to be adopted. Still, I know my chance is coming because I have a lot to offer an active family. I‘m an expert at playing with toys, enthusiastic about a good game of fetch, and thrive on long walks. I love face rubs, belly scratches, licking peoples faces, and the closeness of even sitting next to people doing absolutely nothing. I need some training to refine my skills, including learning how to be alone. But, I’m eager to learn, and there’s nothing more important to me than pleasing people. Mia ID# A059460 is available for adoption at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter located at 1648 9th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404. The shelter is closed to the public and adoptions are by appointment only by calling the shelter at 310.458.8595.

PET TIP OF THE WEEK: FACE MASKS & DOGS

Wearing masks has become a part of our daily lives in order to control the spread of COVID-19. However, since dogs rely on reading our body language, including the muscles in our faces, wearing our masks prevents them from fully reading us which may make them feel unsafe, and threatened. This may lead dogs to exhibit new behaviors such as fearfulness and even aggression.

To desensitize your dog to this new change, it’s important to start the desensitization process at home and avoid areas in the public where your dog will encounter people wearing masks.

Start slowly. Be patient, and always consider your dog’s learning threshold. The process will be done daily, in short sessions, and during specific events. Each session your dog must be showered with praise and terms of endearment. Include rewards such as your dog’s favorite treat and/or toy. So that these rewards remain motivating, your dog should only have access to those rewards during your practice sessions.

Begin the process by putting your mask near your dog’s food bowls during meal time, or next to you during playtime.

Next, hang your mask around your ears or your neck each time you engage with your dog when serving their meals, playtime, cuddling, and quality time.

After lots of daily practice sessions and when you can rely on your dog to remain relaxed around your mask, wear your mask over your face during these same events, and by adding new events including dog walks, even if you are not around other people.

Through this process your dog will anticipate that wearing a mask is a rewarding experience and just another part of their lives.

Pet of the Week is provided by Carmen Molinari, a long-time volunteer at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter and founder and CEO of Love At First Sit, a pet care and dog training company in Santa Monica. Learn about her, pet tips, and Love At First Sit services at loveatfirstsit.net