Child terrified of dogs

(9 Posts)
Tuesday40 Wed 22-Jul-20 15:26:10


I’m not sure if I’ve posted in the right place or not but I wondered if anyone can offer me any advice. My DS age 9 is absolutely terrified of dogs to the extent that it’s stopping him doing the things he enjoys. He has never had an incident with a dog other than being chased once when he was on his bike. It’s getting so bad that he will want to leave the park if he sees a dog off the lead, or even that he wants me to pick him up if he is near a dog!

He then gets very upset if we cut a park trip short due to his upset at his insistence and is obviously disappointed with himself. I really want to support him but don’t know what to do. He shuts down any conversations when I try to ask him what he is scared of so we can try and break it down. We let him take the lead and I hate seeing him upset but really feel we need to do something. We are considering getting a dog in the hope that will help but I am worried that we would get one and he would still be upset and that’s not fair on him or the dog. I’m really at a loss at what to do. He’s a really sporty, outdoors type of child and I don’t want this phobia to impact upon this.

Sorry, I’m rambling... any advice welcome!

OP’s posts: |
MyBabyIsAFurBaby Thu 23-Jul-20 09:57:28

Hi Op,

There was a thread on here recently where someone asked if they should get a dog to help their child overcome their fear, and the overwhelming response seemed to be 'No'.

My DSD was terrified of dogs, but desperately wanted to like them. At the time, my family had (still has) a tiny chihuahua (1.5kg) who absolutely loves people. We spent hours over a year with the dog, with DSD on the floor, playing with her, cuddling her. The dog was jumpy (as most small dogs are), but this actually ended up being beneficial as DSD realised DPup wasn't ever trying to hurt her, but was scared of certain noises, etc. which would make her run off or bark.

DFiance and I now have a puppy (much bigger than the chihuahua!) and DSD loves her. Unfortunately, she is regressing a little bit as her DM, who is terrified of dogs, just got a puppy and is convincing everyone that he is a savage, vicious dog.

Anyway! My suggestion would be that you try to meet up with people who have little, calm dogs that your DS can spend time with. Then gradually introduce bigger dogs.

My DPup is a Shepherd cross and absolutely loves children, but would be terrible to introduce to a scared child. She jumps and is desperate to be played with, and it takes a lot to calm her down!

Tuesday40 Thu 23-Jul-20 11:00:28

Hi @MyBabyIsAFurBaby thanks for replying. Yes we were reluctant to get a dog as wasn’t sure it would be for the right reasons, not fair on dog or child..we were musing about it in desperation really as we really want to support DS to resolve this.

No one in our family has a dog but have managed to engineer a meet up with someone who has a dog over the weekend so will start from there and see how we get on.

Thanks again for replying and your advice

OP’s posts: |
MyBabyIsAFurBaby Thu 23-Jul-20 11:17:19

No problem.

We arrange meet ups with lots of random people that we meet in the dog parks, so if you lived local to me (South East coast), we would be happy to help.

I think you will find a lot of dog owners pretty sociable, so if you fancied going to a park and chatting to the owners, you might find some that are willing to exchange numbers (or social media) and meet up. If our DPup is having lots of fun with certain puppies or dogs, we will just ask if the owners are happy to meet again, even if we ourselves haven't chatted that much.

Good luck xx

Brownowlreallyknowsbest Thu 23-Jul-20 12:24:01

You might like to see if anyone locally has a PAT dog. They are chosen because they are gentle and get on with people. The owner might be willing to let your child meet their dog. See here

peacockbutterfly Thu 23-Jul-20 12:29:57

We have a group locally that runs courses for this. If you google “cynophobia groups”, you might find one near you.

Tuesday40 Thu 23-Jul-20 12:46:02

Thanks everyone I’ll give those suggestions a try

OP’s posts: |


bunnygeek Thu 23-Jul-20 14:14:02

Have you read the Dogs Trust "Building Confidence Around Dogs" advice? They may offer 1:1 help for your son as well, worth a contact!

GingerAndTheBiscuits Thu 23-Jul-20 14:25:15

A friend of mine worked with a dog behaviourist to desensitise her daughter to dogs. By the end she was waking the dog through the park. Might be worth ringing around behaviourists locally to see if any do that kind of work?

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