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Help! DS(5) terrified of new dog

(7 Posts)
OhThisIsJustGrape Sat 08-Aug-15 08:39:10

We brought our new rescue dog home yesterday, a beautiful 7yo Staffie.

The dog was very excited when we first got back - naturally - and it made DS very scared. Despite making the dog sit and stay calm around DS, he is absolutely petrified and won't even be in the same room as the dog unless he is in DH's arms.

I know it's very early days but DH goes back to work tomorrow and it's going to be so hard to keep DS and the dog apart - not helped by the fact that the dog has such severe separation anxiety that if he can't see me he becomes very distressed.

I also have a DD(7) who, although slightly wary, has really bonded with the dog and even though DS has watched them interact in the garden (through the window!) he still won't come out in the garden unless the dog is on a lead and doesn't go within 10ft of him. DS came with me to walk the dog last night but would only walk behind us, nowhere near the dog.

I really want this to work out as he has the potential to be a lovely family pet but obviously DS comes first and I need to desensitise him somehow but I don't know the best way - I have considered crate training but again, with the separation anxiety I don't know if this would be possible.


Dieu Sat 08-Aug-15 10:15:13

I grew up with Staffies and rest assured, you have made an excellent choice for your kids! Ours made our childhood. This process will just take time and I can understand your little one's fears. The thing is that Staffies are incredibly boisterous and NEED a firm hand. Not just for the sake of your little one, but for all the (many) people out there who won't appreciate a Staffie jumping up on them! I have no real advice to offer because I only had Staffies in childhood and therefore only had all the fun stuff! grin A good dog behaviourist would probably be able to help in just a couple of sessions. Good luck.

OhThisIsJustGrape Sat 08-Aug-15 12:02:59

Ah that's good to hear that they are a lovely family pet.

DS came for a walk again this morning but still didn't want to go near the dog but when we came home he saw the dog laying down in the garden (totally wiped out from his walk) and joined us outside smile He didn't stay long but managed to be within spitting distance of the dog for the first time without either screaming or needing to be up in DH's arms. Hopefully we're making progress...

OhThisIsJustGrape Sat 08-Aug-15 12:05:16

Just to add - I'm being very firm with the dog, he has to sit when he comes over to greet any of us and is not allowed on the furniture as I want DS to eventually have a place he can get up on to where the dog can't follow him! DDog is a stubborn bugger though grin

BeautifulBatman Sat 08-Aug-15 12:07:36

Not quite sure why you think crate training may be a solution. From your posts, it doesn't sound like the dog needs it, and it's hardly fair to lock the dog up in that scenario. Were there no gone visits or rescue centre visits before you finally got the dog?

Catzeyess Sat 08-Aug-15 12:07:37

There are dog behaviourists out there that work with humans/children with a fear of dogs. I would get one of them in.

A good method with kids anxiety is to do the traffic light system. Basically you get the child to tell you where they are anxiety wise: green fine Amber worried red panicked.

Go into a situation with the dog eg in the garden with the dog in lead where they are at Amber and get them to do breathing to help them get back to green. So usually you tell them to pretend they are blowing out candles, so tell them to take a big breath and hold it and then blow out the candles. Get them to focus on you and do the breathing while the dog is around on lead until they can relax enough to go to green. Then you build it up. So next step would be standing closer. Obviously the dog needs to be under control so get another adult to keep the dog calmly distracted with treats. You could do a sticker chart after each session with a lovely prize at the end (although don't punish them for being scared - the aim is you set them up to succeed so they always get a sticker for being brave)

BeautifulBatman Sat 08-Aug-15 12:07:56

Home visits.

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