How to Avoid Fear of Dogs in Children
No child should grow up without knowing the joy of a pet. Many children can develop fears toward dogs if they aren’t given positive and safe exposure to them. Since dogs have a strong presence in most households and communities, here are tips that can help children feel comfortable around our canine friends, interact with them safely, and live in harmony:
- Introduce your children to dogs by reading, researching the internet and watching videos together that highlight or showcase friendly, well-behaved dogs in a positive way.
- Bring your child to a place where you both can observe dogs at a safe distance, such as a dog park or beach. This will allow your child to become familiar with the sights and sounds of dogs without coming into contact with them.
- Praise your children for any positive interactions they have with dogs.
- Have discussions with your children on how to be gentle and calm in the presence of dogs. Remind them not to poke the dog, pull his tail or make loud noises or scary gestures.
- Have your children always ask for permission from you and the dog’s owner before approaching any dog.
- Teach your children to be gentle and respectful with all animals, and to never make direct face-to-face contact.
- Don’t force your children to pet a dog if they are uncomfortable.
- When introducing your children to a dog for the first time, start with a calm, adult dog that you have seen interact with children. The dog should be on leash and the owner should have complete control of the dog.
- Control your children’s interactions with dogs in the beginning in order to make sure they have positive experiences. This may include asking the parents/guardians of your children’s friends to please keep their dog in another room or outside when your children are visiting their home.
- When visiting a friend’s home tell your children that if a dog comes into the room to slowly stand up, avert eye contact and sit on the couch or in a chair.
By gradually introducing your children to more dogs under controlled circumstances, every child can learn the joy of knowing a dog!
When your family is ready to adopt a pet, consider visiting your local shelter. At San Diego Humane Society, we provide one-on-one consultations with trained Adoption Counselors who can help with choosing the right pet for your family and can help address any concerns before taking home your new best friend!