How to Help Your Child Over Their Fear of Dogs
It is very normal for children to be afraid of dogs. It can be frustrating if you want to own a dog, but if you consider the fact that children are still in the stage of discovering the world and a dog can feel like a huge animal compared to a child, it’s understandable that there will be fear. Being anxious around dogs is quite normal, especially if the child doesn’t have very much experience. It’s a protective behavior but one that you can’t help your child to overcome.
To be able to help your child overcome anxiety around a dog, you first must invest in good dog training so that your dog will be just as patient with your child as a child patient with the dog. Helping your child to manage and overcome their fears in relation to dogs can be a big challenge, but if you want to have a dog and a child living together in the same home you’re going to have to undertake that challenge with gusto. Here are the ways you can help your child overcome that fear of dogs.
You don’t want to take the fear away from your child, but you want them to overcome the fear in general. The best way to do that is to accept their fear as real and important to them and don’t force anything other than that. It’s really helpful to help your child process, and that means showing them that it’s okay to be afraid and that they can trust you that the dog is okay to also sit with, pet, or spend time with.
Once your child has had their fear acknowledged, they need to be reassured that you are supportive, you are there for them, and you will look after them. Positive reinforcement and encouragement are good things to do, but don’t force the issue.
You need to ensure that your dog understands how to act around a child, particularly when a child is anxious. You often find that your dog is going to pick up on the anxiety, and some dogs will be patient and wait while other dogs will react to the anxiety. This is why careful training comes in.
Model safe interactions
If you want your child to feel less anxious around a dog, you need to show them that it’s safe to be with one. Talk about dogs and watch videos about dogs together and they will be able to prepare themselves to be around one.
Buy treats and toys together
To get your child feeling less fearful and more confident around a dog, you need your child to be excited about one. Ease them into the process by having a chance to offer a friendly and familiar dog treat or toy. They can see what it’s like to be around a dog who is calm and happy and that can help to build their confidence.