While many kids just run up to strange pooches and give them warm bear hugs, others might get scared of seeing one. Each child is unique. Some like to read, some like adventures and some are scared of challenging situations and new encounters.
It is still unknown as to what triggers the fear of dogs in children, but often it is a direct result of parents teaching their kids that dogs are scary. However, in some instances, the dogs fear the children too.
Don’t worry! Here are a few tips to remove your child’s fear of dogs.
Understand Your Child’s Fear
The first step as a parent should be to understand your child’s fear. Parents often think that a rational talk can help their child overcome his/her fear of dogs, but that’s not true. The first step should be to talk to your child, recognize, and accept that your child has a fear of dogs.
Watch What You Say
Telling your child that a dog will bite them if they don’t pet them right, is not going to help remove their fears. Words play a significant role for a child as they form their views of a dog either being a dangerous creature or a new friend to make based on the words they hear from you. So be very careful about your words!
There is no need to rush your child to a face to face encounter with dogs or to force them to be around dogs. A forceful meeting might worsen the situation. Gradually introduce dogs to your child, starting with picture books, television, and movies. Then from a distance, perhaps outside a puppy store or a park. Gradually increase the intensity of exposure. Let your child decide when they are ready to get closer.
Meet An Adult Dog
When your child is ready to get close to a dog, find a mellow, adult dog for the first encounter. Just like small children, puppies are highly unpredictable and excitable. Also, puppies tend to nip everything in their way. A puppy running towards your kid and biting them is the last thing you would want in the process of removing their fear of dogs.
Meeting Dressed Up Dogs Might Help
Kids are less fearful of pooches dressed up in clothes. It is just something about the clothing that makes these adorable creatures look more friendly to kids. Even a simple bandana will do the trick.
Petting The Dog
When your child is finally ready to pet a dog, keep the canine occupied as kids often get scared directly looking into their eyes. It’s the dog’s face that generally scares kids. Let your child pet the dogs body instead of going straight for the face.
Prepare For the Sniff And Lick
Make sure that your little one is prepared for a bit of sniffing and licking. That is how a dog gets to know someone. Tell your child things like the dog might kiss them instead of telling them to be careful as it might bite them.
Always teach your kids gentleness and respect. Tell them pulling the tail of a dog, as well as pushing and teasing a dog is not right. Your children will gradually overcome their fear of dogs but forcing them to be around dogs won’t do it.
Need expert guidance for helping your child overcome his/her fear of dogs? Our team at Dog Day Afternoon is always ready to help. Get in touch today!