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To ask how do I get over my fear of dogs? It's controlling my life!

(19 Posts)
InlandTiger Sun 24-Apr-16 08:02:09

I can't go to the park unless I'm in a group (safety in numbers) as everyone seems to let their dogs off lead. I feel like I can't breathe when a dog charges at me (even if it runs past without stopping). Last time I took DS in his pram a dog stopped and sniffed me and I panicked and yelled at it's owner to get it away! blush

I break out in a cold sweat when I hear barking in the street and cross the road to avoid big dogs even if they are on leads.

I can't go to friends houses even if dogs are shut in another room as I keep expecting them to escape.

What can I do?

QuiteLikely5 Sun 24-Apr-16 08:05:58

I am similar to you but if the dog is small I don't seem to mind.

I was in the woods last week when a huge husky ran to me and my son - I froze and I was seriously peeved with the owner for not recall I g the damn thing when she saw my children.

Dh said I was over reacting but how was I supposed to know the thing wasn't going to go for my son!!

Sorry not helpful! I don't think I will ever feel safe with dogs running up/past me as I don't trust them

Greyhorses Sun 24-Apr-16 08:29:43

Is there no way you can get some professional help with this?
It must be awful as there are dogs literally everywhere but honestly it's mostly media hype and hysteria, dog attacks are very very rare and most bites happen by dogs to family members who have not recognised the signals of an unhappy dog...not complete strangers.

Alternatively do you have a friend with a calm quiet dog you can meet/walk or even a therapy dog etc?

It proberbly won't make you feel better but I have worked with dogs for 10 years (mainly german shepherds and large breeds!) and have never been attacked or bitten by a dog unless provoked by me. Most dogs are just not interested in you at all and want to sniff then go about whatever they were doing smile
Just stand still or walk par calmly, don't run, don't scream and they will generally move on within a second or two.

Purplepicnic Sun 24-Apr-16 08:37:13

Sounds like it goes beyond 'normal' and you need some expert help to get rid of it. You don't want to pass it on to your DC.

howsyourback Sun 24-Apr-16 10:58:20

I used to be in your shoes OP and am now a very happy dog owner! I would say spend time with dogs and try to understand them more. The vast majority are not going to hurt anyone but they do pick up on people's energy, so won't be comfortable around a very anxious person. Big dogs are likely to be calmer than little ones too smile

Wolfiefan Sun 24-Apr-16 10:59:56

I was petrified of snakes. I started by looking at pictures. Then I could watch them on TV.
Then maybe meet a PAT dog. Specially trained and calm. Then walk with a calm dog?

Absinthe9 Sun 24-Apr-16 11:00:46

I'm sorry OP, that does sound like a very restrictive fear and I think you are right to want to address it, not only for you, but also for your DC.

I would have thought the answer is to start small by getting to know one (preferably smallish) well behaved dog. Do you have a friend with a suitable dog?

Start small by stroking them or holding the lead and work up from there. If you don't have access to a well trained dog then ring an animal trainer or your local vet. I'm sure they will be able to help.

Please bear in mind that the very reason people keep dogs is because they give unconditional love and love being with humans. A dog which comes up to you in the park is just curious and wants to say hello. If you ignore it, it will soon go away again.

howsyourback Sun 24-Apr-16 11:01:56

Maybe when you go to your friends' houses that have dogs, don't ask for them to be shut up away from you. You could try giving the dog a treat to get used to interacting with them?

yorkshapudding Sun 24-Apr-16 11:06:25

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is generally considered the best treatment for phobias. It can be very effective but it's likely to be a long wait unless you can afford to pay privately. It's still worth visiting the GP and asking for a referral though as phobias do tend to become worse over time and it's clearly impacting on your day to day life as you are having to avoid certain places and situations. The point about 'passing on' your phobia to DC is also very important as children who grow up around highly anxious parents do often mirror their fears/anxieties so you would be benefiting your DC hugely by showing them that you are willing to tackle your phobia head on and that it can be overcome.

noitsachicken Sun 24-Apr-16 11:17:17

Do you live near a shelter?
I used to work with rescue dogs and we ran a programme to help people get over their fear, coming in to play with small dogs, puppies etc and building up confidence.
Might be worth looking into?

HeteronormativeHaybales Sun 24-Apr-16 11:26:54

I'm similar. But it's not dogs per se I'm scared of, it's dogs in combination with inconsiderate owners.

Would it help to have a 'dog plan' in your mind? If I see an off-lead dog coming and can't avoid otherwise, I stop at some distance. Usually the owner will see this and recall. If they don't, I draw attention to myself and ask them to, nicely. And I always smile and say thank you.

I also hate dog excremnt and don't like dogs weeing/pooing near me, but that is a bit of a different issue.

howmanyairmiles Sun 24-Apr-16 11:56:41

It might help to get a better understanding of Dogs and their behaviour to help with your phobia, Tina Bloom did some great work on emotions in dogs which helped me understand dogs much better.

Her work gave me the confidence and knowledge to know when to approach a dog and when not to.

SexNamesRFab Sun 24-Apr-16 12:02:33

I had CBT - for PND but a phobia of dogs (which, like you, had started to control my life) was one of the ways it manifested itself. It really helped, we worked up to visiting a shelter and I actually stroked a staffie <faints>. Speak to your GP and stress how much it's influencing your life. Good luck OP

nokidshere Sun 24-Apr-16 13:40:54

I have never got over my fear of dogs and I am now 55. I can cope if the dog is one i know well with an adult who respects my fear and keeps the dog away from me. I can cope out and about if the dog is on a lead. But I cant go to someones house without checking first (for any pets not just dogs), I am physically terrified if I see a dog off a lead and feel panicky at the thought of loose animals in the countryside. I wont get out of the car in the middle of the New Forest for instance.

Sorry, I know none of that is helpful really but I just wanted to say that both my children - now teenagers - have always known about my fear of animals, have sometimes been with me when I have panicked and know not to bring animals into the house, have absolutely no fear at all of dogs or any other creature.

Ironically the only creatures that I am not scared of are spiders - which is quite handy for my dh and eldest son grin

InlandTiger Sun 24-Apr-16 13:57:34


My fear doesn't extend to assistance dogs, as I know they are well-trained and docile. I'll happily pet the therapy dogs when they come into my workplace. But an unknown dog off the lead (or even on the lead!) strikes terror into me. I avoid walking down our street because our neighbor has a big husky and he pulls at the lead, barking continuously and leaping all over the pavement. It feels so unsafe to push the pram past him!

I'll look into courses run by animal shelters. But it's more dogs in public places I'm scared of. DS seems so vulnerable in his pram!

I get really angry sometimes when people bring big muscley boisterous dogs into public spaces. Last week a woman was tying up a huge mastiff type at the entrance of Tesco and I was too scared to go past him! When they have a deep menacing bark it's like some sort of monster from a nightmare. The sound chills me sad

sonjadog Sun 24-Apr-16 15:20:56

I suggest you read some books about dog behaviour and communication. I love dogs but I have known them all my life. When I meet new animals I can find them a bit intimidating because I don't understand their movements and reactions. I find that when I know even a little of what they are doing and why, it makes me feel a lot more confident around them. So I suggest you get yourself a couple of books on dog behaviour from the library and find out why dogs bark, what they are doing when they are running about and so on. I think you will be less scared if you realise that it isn't all just random movements.

bibbitybobbityyhat Sun 24-Apr-16 15:28:53

CBT is very effective in helping people to overcome or manage their phobias. Ask your GP - a lot more cbt is available on the NHS nowadays.

nebulae Sun 24-Apr-16 15:38:47

It's not fair for you too be angry with the woman with the mastiff. It's not her fault you're scared of her dog. You need to recognise that this is your problem. The rest of society isn't going to change for you. Sorry if that sounds harsh. I'm not going to stop taking my big muscley dog out to public spaces just because some people might be scared of him.

Shannaratiger Sun 24-Apr-16 15:39:32

My DD 12 is exactly the same. I love dogs but started watching Caesar Milan's Dog Whisperer. DD now says to me "Mum can you dog whisper it" Not helped her fear but has increased her confidence that I can protect her. Has helped her stand still rather than running away screaming!

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