Sometimes, it can be hard to understand why children think a certain way and decoding their seemingly irrational fears is tricky. However, if your child is afraid of dogs one of the most important things to do is try and understand why. Remember, as silly the fear may seem to us, to our children dogs may seem incredibly unnerving. We’re sharing some of our top tips for helping your child overcome their canine fear.
1. Talk to your child
If your child is old enough, one of the most helpful ways you can help conquer a fear is by talking to them. What is it that they’re scared that the dog may do to them? What started their fear of dogs? Once you understand more about the reasons behind the fear, you can start to help your child overcome it. Try and explain that not all dogs are the same, just like us humans, and just because one dog has behaved badly doesn’t mean that they all will.
2. Take baby steps… or should we say ‘puppy steps’!
No fear is conquered over night; it can take a lot of hard work and patience. Start by slowly introducing your child to a dog that you may already know. As cute as they are, it’s probably best that it’s not a young dog as an excitable puppy may just put your child off! Try and recruit a calm, older dog that’s used to being around children. Make sure that your child feels in control and take the introduction in their own time.
3. Pet their body, not their head
If your child is ready to touch the dog then encourage them to pet the dogs body and not their head. This way it will seem less intimidating both for the child and dog. Remember to teach your child good manners around dogs too, they don’t like being pushed, poked or teased!