Some children, of various ages, can be very fearful of dogs. Especially if there’s a history – for example, a child who got a small dog nip once and she never got over it.
Many kids say they’re not afraid anymore, but when faced with the reality of even just a friendly sniffing dog, they may freeze, yell and generally emit real fear.
Most kids want to be able to relax and not have great fears, but some parents don’t know how to help. Often, a child may face the same dog again in their extended family, or at a friend’s home, a park, or at a neigbour’s house. Of course, as parents we want them to have confidence in dealing with the situation.
Dog behaviour experts often recommend that you practice no touch, no talk, and no eye contact when meeting a dog, and to really believe that nothing bad is going to happen. Focus on that belief. Keep it in your mind at all times when you’re with the dog.
Try this exercise: If you were not afraid, what would you like to do with a dog? If you loved a dog, how would you like to share that love with your dog? If you could take a dog for a walk, where would you take him? And if you were the best dog trainer in the world, what would you teach your dog? Focus on those positive scenarios when you’re meeting the dog.
Practice – take little steps to teach the child how to be calm, gentle, allow the dog to sniff as that’s how they “check you out”, and always ask the pet owner if the dog is ok with strangers, and strange kids.