Some children have always been afraid of dogs. Others develop a fear after a scary altercation with a dog. Either way, helping them to get over this fear can prove to be difficult. Here are five tips to help your child overcome a fear of dogs:
- Watch yourself – Are you nervous around strange dogs? Do you tell your child to beware of dogs because they could bite? If so, your child may be taking cues from you. Conversely, if you act calmly around dogs, your child will begin to feel more at ease too.
- Take puppy steps – Depending on how afraid your child is, simply getting him or her to play calmly in the same general area with a dog might be a good start. Actually approaching a dog on a leash might be the next step, followed eventually by a quick, little pet on the dog's back.
- Start with adults – Puppies tend to be more curious and excitable than older dogs and therefore are more likely to jump on or nip at a young child. Adult dogs that have had experience with children will be calmer and help your child feel more comfortable.
- Explain how dogs act – Your child may not know that sniffing is a dog's way of saying “hello,” or may misinterpret a dog's jumping and licking as acts of aggression rather than the sign of a happy animal. Explaining what these behaviors mean can go a long way in helping your child know what to expect and alleviate some of those fears.
- Don't Push It – This will only cause your child to withdraw more, which could erase any progress you have made. Let your child go at his or her own pace.
If your child has been the victim of a Missouri dog bite, getting over a fear of dogs will take even more time and patience. For more helpful information call experienced St. Louis dog bite attorney Alvin Wolff, Jr., at 877-241-1020.