What To Do If Your Children Are Afraid Of Dogs

Most children love dogs, but there are also those who are terrified. If your child is afraid of dogs, read on. In this article, we give you some tips on how you can help.
What to do if your children are afraid of dogs

Most children love dogs, but there are also children who are simply afraid of them. In this article, you will find information and advice that may be helpful in helping your children overcome their fears.   With that, they will also improve the relationship with your four-legged friend.

What makes a child afraid of dogs?

Although it can be hard to believe, children can be afraid of dogs because of things we say. Just as children may develop a fear of monsters due to phrases such as “if you do not behave, a monster will come and take you”, they may develop a fear of dogs if you inadvertently say something similar with reference to your dog.

For example, “do as I say or the dog will eat you”, or “do not touch it otherwise it will bite you”. All of these expressions may have created some negative perceptions about dogs in your child’s mind.

Golden puppy running on a field.

All of this will make your children the perfect candidates to develop a fear of dogs as they get older. Psychologist BegoƱa Gallego explains that if you want to change your child’s opinion of dogs, you need to change the way you talk about them. Saying, “if you do not eat your dinner, the dog will eat it” is not the same as “if you do not eat your dinner, the dog will bite you”.

Dogs can often feel when children are afraid of them. Their incredible sense of smell allows them to detect pheromones at great distances. So if your child is scared, your dog will be able to feel it and may then also feel scared. The dog then begins to think of your child as a threat and may even begin to behave aggressively. This will only make the situation worse.

Fear and phobia: what is the difference

Phobia and fear are two very different things. Fears have a logical cause. For example, if your child has had a bad experience with dogs, it is logical that the child is afraid of them and does not want to go near them. This is easily solved by buying a small puppy and allowing your child to participate in the care when the puppy grows up.

Phobias are something completely different. They can arise for no apparent reason, and this irrational fear can even be triggered by simply seeing a photo of the animal or object. A psychologist should treat extreme phobias. But you can also try to cure a phobia of dogs on your own by buying a puppy. Puppies usually evoke a protective instinct in us rather than fear.

How to avoid fear of dogs in children

To prevent your children from developing a fear of dogs, you need to teach them about dogs from an early age. In this section we will give you some advice on how to do it. If your children are still quite young, and they are already starting to develop a fear of dogs, the advice can also help you. It is mainly about teaching your children how to approach an animal.

Owner and dog out in the woods.
  • Do not run and scream. Children are by nature spontaneous and enthusiastic. When they see a dog, it is normal that they want to run to it, especially if they have never seen one up close. However, depending on the dog, it may react negatively to this approach. It can even become aggressive and scare your child.
  • Ask the owner for permission. If your child wants to pet a dog, the first thing you need to do is teach them to ask for the owner’s permission. They know best if their dog is good with strangers or not.
  • Teach your children to approach animals. Dogs act on instinct and sense of smell. Once the owner has given permission, you should approach the dog slowly. Extend your hand so that the dog can sniff at you.
  • Tell them what they can and cannot touch. If they do not know the dog, explain that they should not touch the ears, throat, nose or tail. Dogs often dislike being touched in these places, and if you are a stranger they may react negatively.

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