To not worry that DD is very scared around dogs!

(35 Posts)
Feminine Fri 21-Jun-13 10:34:00

Inspired by another thread running right now smile

DD is 4 and is (what I would call) unusually scared around dogs.

Small ones , fluffy ones ...puppies too young to be on pavement ....

I still think she can/will grow out of it. Around me are folk asking me, what I'm going to do about it?

AIBU do I need help wink

Bosgrove Sat 22-Jun-13 21:59:50

My DD2 (just 4) was really scared of dogs (mainly thanks to a very bouncy cocker spaniel belonging to my Dsis, bouncy at eye level when she was learning to walk) She used to shout "don't let it eat me!" when she saw a dog and try and climb up my body.

For the last two years or so, I have pointed out every dog that walks past us, telling her the different breeds. If I haven't know the breed I have asked the owner. If the dog is friendly, I ask the owner and stroke it. Telling DD2 how important it is to ask before touching.

It has taken ages but this week, she has asked three of the owners if she can stroke their dogs. One of the dogs being an Italian Mastiff (think small horse size). The mastiffs owner said " but you don't like dogs to her" (he is one of the owners that we talk to often), she just said that she does now.

I didn't want her to run up to strange dogs to play, just to be safe around them.

Feminine Sat 22-Jun-13 13:14:51

Boo thanks, that is helpful smile I'll get my brother to try that with the Lurchers!

pink I'm allowed to stay for the session , just in case she is scared. smile

Booboostoo Fri 21-Jun-13 23:02:34

I don't think you should worry but it's worth trying to help your DD with this. For one thing it can't be fun to be worried and with dogs around in many places there are a lot of opportunities to get worried which is a shame for her. For another children that are scared of dogs tend to behave in ways that provoke dog attacks, e.g. screaming, jumping, running, etc. I don't mean by this that the child is at fault for being attacked, it's not a blame issue, it's a causation issue, i.e. a child that knows how to react to dogs in a calm and confident manner is less likely to get bitten.

Friendly dogs tend to be quite scary dogs for people who are worried about dogs because they want to run up to you, sniff you, lick you, etc all of which can be quite frightening. Have you tried your DD with a dog that has a very good 'down stay'? Place the dog very far away from her in a secure 'down stay' and explain to her that the dog will not move no matter what. She can then decide if she wants to move closer to the dog. At first she may be reluctant to make any move closer to the dog but praise her for staying calm and maintaining the distance she feels comfortable with. In time she may be more willing to shorten the distance and maybe even take the initiative to touch the dog. She may be happier this way as she will feel more in control of the situation and her interaction with the dog.

pinkandpurplesparkle Fri 21-Jun-13 21:59:54

Daisy the Dog sounds absolutely brilliant Feminine, as do the lurcher crosses smile. Little steps with quiet, calm dogs that will allow her confidence to grow will be ideal. Will you be able to be with her when Daisy is in school or will it be part of a regular class so no parents allowed?

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 21-Jun-13 21:03:55

I don't think you need to do anything. I was brought up around dogs and horses - think beagle packs. I wasn't scared of them or of big boisterous labradors because I was in situations that to me felt safe and looking backk those dogs were handled by professionals.

I have always been scared of lone dogs off leads; esp alsatians, dobermans, pit bull type animals. If I see them off a lead I will avoid at all costs and have freaked out abroad on beaches out of season when "wild" dogs have appeared. Not comfy around strange dogs at all.

DD was terrified when smaller and I was v worried and thought she sensed my fear. At 15 all she wants is a dog - always checking out breeds. I'd have one too though I would be a bit worried about the walking. DH who isn't scared at all would not have a dog though. But compromised over the cats because of the rats

All will be fine.

Feminine Fri 21-Jun-13 20:42:13

Thanks to all of you for commenting and giving me help. smile

pink actually, the pre-school has 'daisy the dog' coming in next week. This is a special dog, normally the primary children read to her. I'm hoping that DD might feel calmer around a very still dog also. My brother has two beautiful Lurcher crosses ...of course they are huge compared to her but she started to relax a little as they are so calm.

I'm really grateful for all suggestions given here today.

DownyEmerald Fri 21-Jun-13 19:37:59

There's a series of books from Battersea Dogs Home. Don't know if they helped dd but she certainly showed more interest in dogs as personalities afterwards.

pinkandpurplesparkle Fri 21-Jun-13 19:37:53

Feminine, I wonder if you'd consider getting in touch with the "Pets As Therapy" people? These are the folk who take their dogs in to hospitals etc so that people who are ill can benefit from a visit from a furry friend. The dogs all tend to be very quiet and placid - no jumping about or erratic movements from them at all smile. If your daughter could meet one of these dogs, on her own terms, and take her time to meet and greet the dog, then it might be a small step to dealing with her anxiety. I don't know whether the people in your area would be up for this, but it's worth a try.

My own dog is a former guide dog and is the kindest, most gentle dog in the world. He would be great for your daughter to practise on smile. If you know anyone who has a working or former guide dog, they'd also be totally ideal for your daughter to meet (obviously if a working dog, it would need to be 'off duty' and with the owner's consent smile).

Puppies and little people are not really a great mix - puppies have speedy movement and teeth that are sharp like needles .... and this is more likely to frighten an already wary child. What's needed is a kind and placid dog who will lie down and enjoy being loved smile.

Effingjeff Fri 21-Jun-13 19:04:59

My eldest daughter had a bad experience with a jack Russell when she was three and was terrified of dogs. She is now 8 and although still wary of them, is much better-she did a project (at home with no prompting from us) about different breeds of dogs and this has helped her immensely. However my 4 year old is now also petrified of them-she almost ran into the road last week to get away from the tiniest spaniel puppy outside the school-that's how scared she gets. she shakes and cries so loudly when she sees a dog and needs to be as far away from them as possible. I have explained that this puppy is like her and wants to play as he is only young, but it makes no difference at all. I have also tried explaining that as the dogs are on leads then the can't reach her. One charming lady, seeing her reaction to her staff terrier announced 'oh how can she be scared of dogs' helpful thanks blush I have thought of taking her somewhere with puppies so that she can see them and building on that because she is far worse than dd1 ever was. However, I am sure that she will grow out of it to the same degree as her older sister.

TwoTearsInABucket Fri 21-Jun-13 14:06:35

Yes, Birds, I see your point about working dogs etc.

And I certainly believe that a parent should help a child get over their fear. I am not sure that the OP needs professional help to do this at this stage (as has possibly been suggested to her).

Talking to my DD about what the dogs were doing did help (i think, unless she just got less scared on her own).

It must be hard for the OP to balance helping her DD get over her fear and balancing that with keeping a certain wariness about dogs, especially those that are off the lead.

Fairyegg has some good ideas about how to help the OP's DD.

Fairyegg Fri 21-Jun-13 13:50:17

As she can't avoid dogs for the rest of her life I think you have to help her. Ds used to have a real Fear of spiders. I started by getting libary books about spiders out for him, we would look at the photos, talk about them etc. then I would show him dead ones. Then I would pick Up a dead one and show that to him, then he got the stage where he held a dead one. Then we repeated it with live ones. I wouldn't say he loved them now but he does at least tolerate them. With your dd I would stop making her be around friends dogs, it may be to much to soon. Instead I would go right back to picture form, building up to Looking at a puppy / small sleeping dog, progressing to having one nearer to her, to stroking one, holding one etc and then building up on the size / age of dogs. I think yabu to ignore it or hope that it will go away.

ILikeToClean Fri 21-Jun-13 13:36:36

It's a difficult one as she is small, so dogs can look quite big and scary, so you may find that she grows out of it as she gets bigger, but then again she may not and for the sake of making her life easier, it would be good if she could learn more about dogs, as suggested here, so that even if she never loves them, she can be near them without fear. Maybe watch films with cute dogs in, talk to her about poor dogs in rescues and read a book on dogs with care advice, different breed types etc. Is she okay with other animals i.e. cats?

DD2 used to be very wary of dogs and would stand behind me when they went past, we now have a puppy who will grow to be lab size and she loves him, but as others have said, better to be wary than run up to any dog (as DD1 used to do!). Her fear was just a natural one of being small and them being bigger though.

It may cause problems in the future, my friend's DD is terrified of dogs and her DS terrified of cats (we have one of each) so they don't come over any more sad. Her DS is at school and if he gets invited for playdates, if they have animals he does not go! Not really addressing the problem, just avoiding it!

At least you are introducing her to friends' dogs, which is great, I think she will probably be fine with more reassurance and also learning about dogs more, she will more than likely grow out of it.

Squitten Fri 21-Jun-13 13:34:55

My 4yr old DS is afraid of dogs too. Doesn't freak out about them but doesn't like them to be too close. Not helped by the fact he was chased by an overly-friendly Labrador in the park a few months ago.

Don't forget that a big dog, like a Labrador, is the same size as a 4yr old. It's like an adult coming up against a horse. I'm sure that as my DS grows up, gets physically bigger and more mature, dogs won't be so scary to him anymore.

"Why are people asking you to get help with it?"

Working dogs are used in all airports etc, randomly.

Sniffer dogs are used at even our Local train stations, over busy periods and everyone is expected to walk past them, children included, it isn't uncommon to use children/prams to carry drugs and guns.

I supposed if you are happy to stick to theme parks and similar, if wouldn't matter, but dogs are everywhere.

A parent should try to help their child get over any type of fear, especially unavoidable one's, dogs/insects etc.

TwoTearsInABucket Fri 21-Jun-13 13:08:52

If your DD is that scared I would keep picking her up and may be she will get more reassured knowing that she has your protection. And then you could move to putting yourself between her and the dog, without picking her up.

Your poor DD sad

Why are people asking you to get help with it? Are they particularly affected by it?

LillethTheCat Fri 21-Jun-13 11:59:52

I used to be like that when I was younger. If I saw a dog I would panic and be scared to go near it, even if it was behind a gate or was tied up.

Now 30 years later I have a pet dog. Not a cute fluffy mellow type, but a very active one.

I did nothing apart from just grow out of it. Almost. Im still nervous around some dogs (ones that I dont know or those little ones - they might nip at my ankles), but as I grew up I realised that by remaining calm I was less likely to scare the dog into attacking me. It also helped that a friend of mine had a dog so I got used to that one.

Feminine Fri 21-Jun-13 11:27:22

twotears she asks me to pick her up. thank goodness for pilates

She is so scared , that she can hang on without me using my arms sad

TwoTearsInABucket Fri 21-Jun-13 11:25:22

sorry, that was a bit repetitive about growing out of it!

Feminine Fri 21-Jun-13 11:23:50

downy learning about different breeds sounds a sensible idea too.

It should be easy too. We live in a rural spot, there are dogs everywhere smile

TwoTearsInABucket Fri 21-Jun-13 11:23:34

What does your DD do when she sees a dog?

My DD, nearly 4, is frightened of dogs. She kind of flinches when we walk past. I try to swap sides so I am between her and the dog. If they are on the lead, i tell her not to worry (sometimes I tell her not to be silly, and then feel bad, because she's not really). She will comment on dogs in a half fascinated way. I am hoping she will grow out of it as well. she is also quite small in stature, so I have to remember that. I also hope that DD will grow out of it.

I remember being very very very frightened of Alsatians when i was about 8. I tried to keep calm, so the dog couldn't smell my fear! I eventually grew out of it, but I am wary of dogs. Have never grown out of my fear of sharks though...

Also, don't do what my friend did to DD when she was 2 years old, when DD started screaming because there was a dog, who used to jump at people in a friendly way, she started shouting at her and telling her not to scream as that would frighten the dog. Really telling her off she was. I wasn't happy about that!

CloudsAndTrees Fri 21-Jun-13 11:23:11

That's a good idea too Downy. I'd never have thought of getting children to recognise different breeds as a way of helping them get to know dogs without actually having to go near them. smile

Feminine Fri 21-Jun-13 11:20:17

Thanks so much for the latest posts...smile

clouds that is a perspective I hadn't considered. I think seeing them in a more vulnerable way ie: needing help, sounds very beneficial actually.

merry that is a dreadful experience.

Recently I've been asked ( on more than one occasion) what I intend to do about it. I think these people are insinuating I get her professional help confused I'm glad I checked to see if I was being remiss.

DownyEmerald Fri 21-Jun-13 11:13:25

DD was scared of dogs - we just had one too many bad experiences when she was little. So many people are so thoughtless (I'll save the rant for another thread).

This winter when she was 6 and half plus I suddenly realised that she wasn't begging to be picked up when she saw one in the distance. I do still sometimes find a little hand in mine if a big one gets close, but on the whole I have totally dismantled my dog radar.

I did used to pick her up, but try to explain she was over-reacting. TBH wary of dogs I think is a good thing. But I didn't want her to get phobic. I've got an adult friend who is phobic and I can see it makes her life a bit difficult, especially as she loves walking.

And I have tried to get her recognising breeds. I know this is probably an over-generalisation but spaniels are silly and bouncy, labs are silly and lovely. Treat the staffies, jack russells and dobermans with caution. I'll probably get flamed now.

BrainzMeanzHeinz Fri 21-Jun-13 10:59:33

I think growing can help a lot. As she gets bigger, big scary dogs will become smaller and her fear of dogs in general may just drop off.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 21-Jun-13 10:57:38

If you are exposing her to dogs in a safe environment and you are talking to her and reassuring her, then you are already doing something.

If you think she needs more you could read books about dogs, especially ones that talk about how to care for dogs, so that she can see they are animals that need looking after, not just scary monster type things that might want to eat her. You can talk to her about how to stay safe around dogs, like telling her you must always ask the owner before you stroke them and that sort of thing, even if you know she has no intention of ever going near one.

It might not appear to be making any difference, but over time these things will slowly sink in, and if she gets to the stage were she is ready to change her mind about dogs, then she will be able to deal with dogs more easily.

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