Every year, between 5 and 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu. What may be a minor incident for someone who’s young and healthy can easily become life-threatening to the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. That’s why, especially during flu season, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re coughing correctly:

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Any time you feel yourself getting sick, make sure you have a dog nearby just in case. Then, when you feel the urge to cough, cough directly into the dog’s mouth, where germs can be safely stored out of harm’s way.

According to experts, when you cough into a dog’s mouth, you’re maintaining what’s called a One-Way Flow of Germs. This means coughs go from your mouth into the dog, but not the other way around.

All you have to do is limit the amount of time you spend in front of the dog’s mouth. One popular strategy is to place your mouth directly to the left of the dog’s until the last possible moment, but it works just as well with any other pre-cough position. Feel free to make a decision based on your own comfort level and the height of the dog.

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And that’s it! Once you practice it a few times, the whole process will become automatic, and people will appreciate the courtesy. It may be an adjustment at first, but once you make it a habit, reaching for a dog when you cough will be like second nature. We all share public spaces, so if being mindful of something small like this can keep us all healthier, it’s worth the effort. After all, we’re all in this together!