I love nothing more than seeing the pure joy in my kids eyes when they play with their own dog or when they see other dogs.
It breaks my heart to know that some children are fearful of dogs. Occasionally, when I’m out walking Cooper, I see children and sometimes adults too, move away from him, as though they are afraid of him.
He is a big, friendly and very handsome dog who loves everyone and is totally harmless. I struggle to comprehend that people can be scared of him. I know that I shouldn’t be one to judge as I’m scared of ducks (I was attacked by one when I was younger – but that’s a story for another time).
Based on my experiences, I will give you some advice and tips on ways to help your child overcome their fear of dogs.
Just to be clear, I am not a psychologist (I did however major in Psychology at University), but I will be using some great tactics that were provided to us by a child psychologist who we recently visited to help overcome some fears that Harper was really struggling with (also a story for another time).
With the help of Mr Cooper, these tactics were used to help a friend’s little boy Mason, to overcome his big fear of dogs…
Prelude: A friend of mine, Kate, has a gorgeous 3-year-old boy, Mason (also known as Mase), who has grown up with Harper. He was petrified of dogs. Kate’s words “On a scale of 1-10, he was a 15. Wouldn’t go anywhere near a dog or to a place that had a dog”.
I think his fear stemmed from the fact that his mum doesn’t like dogs plus he had a little yappy dog get in his face at a young age. Knowing that November was “Bring your Pet to Crèche” month, Kate decided it was time to try and conquer Mase’s fear (and maybe hers too, I was hoping).
Jase and I invited them over to our house for a lunch and put a step by step plan together of what we were going to do to help him. This is how it went…
Step 1: A few days prior to having them over for lunch, I told Kate to start talking about it with Mase, let him know they were coming over to our house and Cooper would be there. Start showing Mase photos on her phone of Cooper (there are plenty of them on my Instagram).
When a fear is so bad, even looking at a photo can be terrifying. We’ve been through it with Harper so I know how bad it can be. Using the advice we got from our psychologist, we told Kate that if Mase was too frightened to look at them, she should just put a photo up on her phone and leave it on the coffee table.
Mase would most likely, in his own time, go and look at the phone. And he did, and after a couple of days, he loved looking at the photos of Cooper, especially because lots of the photos also had Harper and Paxton in them too. It made him see that Cooper was friendly and the kids love him.
Step 2: Knowing that Mase was scared of dogs, overnight I defrosted a bone for Cooper. When we have people arrive to our house, Cooper is often quite excitable and will charge to the front door in quite a boisterous manner. This is not what I wanted for Mason’s arrivals. So just before they arrived at our house, I put Cooper outside with a big juicy bone and I locked the doggy door so he couldn’t come in. I wanted Mase to come in and see Cooper outside through the window and see how calm and harmless he was.