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Advice on how to help DS (4yo) overcome his (new) fear of dogs

(10 Posts)
LakeFlyPie Mon 24-Nov-14 23:44:16

Never posted on Doghouse before but would appreciate some 'expert' advice on how I can help DS.

We don't have a family dog (DP and I grew up with dogs and would love one but work patterns mean we can't at the moment) but DC (6+4) have met various friends / relatives dogs and have always been happy around them.

A few weeks ago DS2 was 'herded' by an collie / sheepdog whilst out walking, he was carrying a stick which the dog obviously wanted and thankfully my dog loving Aunt who was with us shouted to DS to drop his stick and the dog took it and ran off.
I reassured DS at the time that it was OK and the dog wasn't trying to hurt him but he has since spoken about the dog looking like a wolf and now when we walk in our local park (which we do most days) he is clearly frightened of dogs who are both on and off leads and he puts himself in a position where DP or I are between him and the dog as soon as he spots one.
He's generally a confident and outgoing little chap and it's awful to see him anxious like this.

I think I need to try and visit friends who have small, child friendly dogs but in the meantime any tips on how to handle dogs in the park or best things to talk about with DS would be much appreciated.

LakeFlyPie Mon 24-Nov-14 23:45:23

Sorry - title should read Advice needed please

CMOTDibbler Tue 25-Nov-14 08:02:34

I'd talk lots about the dogs and how they are playing 'look at that dog going to his mummy to get his ball, wow he's so excited about it' so that he understands more about how dogs play with humans.

If theres anywhere near you that has a cafe where people sit with dogs on leads (outside obv) that you could go to to see lots of dogs, then that would be good. I have two large dogs - lurchers - who are soppy, gentle things and often people come up to us with dog wary children to chat and I'm very happy to talk to children while they look. They often like to get the dogs to sit/ lie down on command as well as it puts them in control.

LeopardInABobbleHat Tue 25-Nov-14 08:11:36

Find some Youtube videos of Collies herding sheep and explain that the Collie he met was doing much the same as that's their instinct. That it shouldn't have been - its owner should have been watching it and making sure it didn't go round stealing peoples' sticks but that it meant no harm and it only looks like a big wolf because he's still little.

Plus exposure to dogs being calm and well behaved as CMOT said.

You could also teach him to stand still, cross his arms and not look at a dog that comes up to him.

JustMe1990 Tue 25-Nov-14 10:54:33

Your poor little boy sad
Some dog owners make me sick, they are so bloody irresponsible.

I have a working line border collie, if it was 'herding' as you say, your little boy must have been so scared, if it was giving him 'the eye' where they crouch and scare, it gives most adults the Heebie jeebies as its so intimidating.
Not to mention the fact that their instinct when herding is to gradually step it up until the livestock complies, i.e. Child keeps running so dog starts cutting child off, child screams and runs, collie bites... angry
God it makes me so cross.

I hope you gave the idiot owner a bloody good telling off, my son used to be scared of dogs as well when he was about 3.
So I told him about how brilliant dogs are, how they will play with you all day, protect you when your scared, be your friend etc and bought him a dog.

Leopardinabobblehat's suggestion is good, could also try telling him that if a dog approaches if he folds his arms and turns away it should leave him alone.

JustMe1990 Tue 25-Nov-14 10:58:30

Just realised I repeated leopards last sentence, oops.
It's a good way of avoiding dogs though, the overwhelming majority will lose interest and walk off.

LakeFlyPie Tue 25-Nov-14 13:05:21

Really helpful advice, thanks everyone.
I was slow up react and didn't tell the owners off, they were smiley and apologised and I shrugged it off as I didn't realise straight away how upset DS was (he didn't cry until after the event). I think because the dog wasn't aggressive it didn't seem particularly threatening at the time. My Aunt was surprised I wasn't more cross with the owners for not having the dog on a lead.

AWombWithoutAFoof Tue 25-Nov-14 13:08:00

DD (4) has been terrified of dogs since she was about 2, it shows no sign of abating. It's so hard to deal with, we live by a beach which is a dog walkers paradise and she spends any time there either shrieking or in a state of hyper vigilance.

FelixTitling Tue 25-Nov-14 13:16:17

Ds was scared of dogs for a long time (years) after being knocked over by two dogs running after a ball. They were bigger than him at the time.

What worked most for us, was a relative with a very patient, slow, calm dog. Ds has built up from not even being able to see a dog on the horizon to walking and even feeding this dog treats. He's now still wary of other dogs but doesn't panic or run screaming like he used to. And will walk past a dog on his own without reference to it. But, it's been a very long, slow process.

We recently had a very bouncy puppy visit us though and ds just hated it. He kept himself in another part of the house the whole time it was here, till in the end he threw a note into the kitchen that said "take your dog home now". So, guess he's not cured completely grin.

EasyToEatTiger Tue 25-Nov-14 16:14:53

One of our dogs is afraid of children and can be quite nippy. A behaviourist gave me this link which has apparently been really good at keeping children safe. And if they feel less threatened their confidence can improve, so everyone wins!

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