Fear of dogs in 6 YO(3 Posts)
Not sure if this is the right place to post, but I am in need of some advice about my DD's fear of dogs.
We have just been on a family holiday to Devon which would appear to have a larger dog population than our usual suburban London home area. Every time we saw a dog, DD would cling to me or DH and start hyperventilating, shaking etc. We both talked to her calmly, said there is nothing to frightened of, explained the best thing to do is to just walk past, no eye contact with dog etc - if you aren't interested in the dog, the dog won't be interested in you type thing. All to no effect.
After a couple of days, DD actually stepped out into the road in front of an oncoming car (which thankfully was travelling very slowly and managed to stop in time) to avoid a dog which was at least 10 metres away. On another separate occasion she pulled over the buggy with 16 month old DS2 in it as she was getting hysterical about a dog which was running around off the lead nearby. I did lose my temper at this point I confess
I just don't know how to help her, but as it is affecting her ability to enjoy things (every time we were going somewhere we had to answer questions about whether there would be dogs there). In addition her reaction is rubbing off on DS1 (aged 3) who now shrieks if he sees a dog even though he says he isn't afraid of dogs.
Have you tried finding someone with a very calm dog and encouraging her to just be in a space with it while on the lead? Then just take things really slowly. It may take a while but if she feels the situation is controlled it might be less scary. Ideally a white or blonde dog as it seems black or dark dogs are scarier for lots of kids.
Things that worked with our DD (now 5, who once threw up on sight of a dog that was about 20m away):
Find someone with a old, soppy dog. Old is good as the less they move and the less interest they show the better. Introduce dog to dd on her terms. Avoid puppies, as although very cute, they are very jumpy and chewy.
Start a 'dog log' - this is a book with pictures (googled or taken on phone) of dogs that she has stroked. This involves going up to people with dogs and asking if they can be stroked, asking their names, breed, and asking to take photo (some people may find this strange!). Write all info gleaned into dog log.
Stay calm at all times. Even you are if frustrated, cross, worried, in pain (from being climbed up, clung to and generally mauled in panic) etc. I found this quite hard sometimes as DD is none to gentle whilst in panic mode.
We can now go for a walk where there will be dogs and although she still gets jumpy occasionally (especially with big or bouncy dogs) it is all manageable.
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