How to help your Child Overcome a Fear of Dogs

Children may develop any number of different fears. Sometimes this fear stems from the unknown, other fears may come from a bad experience and many fears have no cause. One such fear that your child may have is dogs. Whether this has been caused by an unpleasant experience or simply because they are not used to being near dogs, it is best to help them to overcome this fear as dogs are a common animal that they will come across on a regular basis in their day-to-day lives. Here are some tips on how to help your child to become less frightened of dogs.

Understand their fear

If you can understand what has caused their fear in the first place then this can help you to help them. For example, if their fear stems from a lack of experience from being around dogs then introducing them to dogs on a regular basis may help, while if their fear has been caused by an unpleasant experience then it may help to talk though their fears and help them to put the experience behind them.

Accustom them to images of dogs

Seeing images of dogs or seeing the real thing from afar can help to get your child used to dogs and reduce their fear. Pictures of dogs in magazines or on the television can be helpful. Take walks in the park or other areas that are likely to have dogs, so that your child has the opportunity to experience them without having to get to close.

Choose a placid dog known to you

To help your child gradually get used to being in the same room as dogs it can be helpful to choose a placid adult dog of a friend or family member and take them to see the dog occasionally so that they may become more used to being around one.

Talk positively about dogs

The things that you say can have a big impact on what your child thinks and fears. A flippant comment that puts dogs in a negative light could inadvertently reinforce their fears. Try to speak about them positively in your conversations and this could help your child to create a more positive image of dogs and reducing their fear.

Let them touch

Once they are acclimatized to being in the same room or area as dogs it may be time to allow them to touch dogs. Don’t attempt to do this too soon or it may deepen their fear rather than cure it. It is also wise to talk to them beforehand about how the dog will feel, especially if they have never touched one before. Again, it is wise to choose a placid, adult dog that is known to you for this experience. Before allowing a child to touch a dog it is important to always ask the owner first.

A fear of dogs is common in children and this may come from not being used to this particular animal or from a distressing experience they have had. There are many ways that you can help your child overcome this phobia. These include letting them see dogs more regularly, talking to them, understanding the cause of their fear, allowing them to meet and touch an adult dog that is known to you and talking positively about dogs in their presence.