View Full Version : 4 year old scared of dogs !!

30-08-2015, 01:14 PM
Afternoon all - havent been on here in ages but dont want to post on facebook !
Have LO who is 4 years old who is scared of dogs - we have a dog in setting and child copes ok and walks past it etc - dog is kept in different part of garden away from LO's while they are playing.
Last few times we have went out walking through local forest and met dogs LO hasnt been happy and quite upset when we have met dogs - at no time has one went near child in my care.
At drop off child is now upset with Mum and doesnt want to come to my house anymore in case we go out walking and meet dogs - mum tells me this they child has cried before leaving home etc !! I then feel under pressure in front of Mum to say ok then we wont go out walking today so she doesnt leave LO crying and upset - have tried to meet half way and avoid forest but it is impossible to go out anywhere in a small town without running the risk of meeting dog walkers.
Just feel as this wee one is manipulating us all and not sure what to do. If I dont go out child has won and knows it !! and what will the next thing be. Any tips gratefully received.
* this isnt a new child - has been with me since 6 months old - fear of dogs was never too bad but older sibling now seems to stir it up a bit - realising he can wind her up - the usual oh look I see a dog (which is maybe 50 yards away!!) - your scared if it arent you etc etc...... grrrr

30-08-2015, 02:09 PM
Hi, I have had a child since they were 4, she is now 9. She is very afraid of dogs. She will freeze if she sees a dog within 50 yards. If I we have to walk past a dog, I will usually ask that she is okay, and usually put myself between her and the dog.

I do not own a dog, and have always operated a 'we don't touch a persons dog unless their 'mummy' says its okay'

Next week is the first year anniversary of walking home from school, and walking past a woman walking a dog, and looking down to see the dog hanging off my leg. I had to have a tetanus injection and a course of antibiotics. I still have a scar, including a large puncture wound.

Previous to this, I always thought people who were scared of dogs were a bit silly and wimpy, but now I see they may have a point. I am now a lot more nervous, especially around pit bull type dogs.

At our school, we have 3 entrances, and dog owners will tie up their dogs close to all of the gates. I can imagine a child who is terrified of dogs will have extreme stress walking into the school.

Sorry, that I do not have any suggestions, but wanted to tell you about my experience.

30-08-2015, 02:41 PM
Thanks for sharing Kirstie !
I know she is scared but now that she is refusing to go out walking I am at a loss as what to do - most of my days involve going walking somewhere. Even visiting the local open farm is ruled out.

30-08-2015, 05:16 PM
Does mum avoid anywhere that might have dogs too when Lo is with her?

30-08-2015, 05:32 PM
Parents dont seem to take them out too far apart from odd trip to bowling or cinema. Thats why I try my best to take them to outdoor places to experience the world around them !!

30-08-2015, 07:32 PM
You need to be very firm with the older child and tell him/her exactly what she should NOT do when there is a dog as it is just not fair on the little one.

Do you have any toy dogs that you could do a bit of role play with, or some dog books which teach you how to care for your dog? Maybe do some work on dogs who help us - guide dogs etc. Could the children have a toy dog each that they have to look after - make it a little bed, give it pretend food, take it for walks, groom it etc.

Our local sure start centre did a session where they invited someone from the council to come in and talk to the children about safety around dogs and I have recently seen a poster up advertising the service elsewhere. Maybe you could do some research and see if this is offered anywhere near you.

My DD is also scared of dogs after some lady told us about a dog jumping up and scratching her grandchild's eye. Very insensitive of her. I also do what someone else said and put myself in between her and any dog that comes along, but it isn't always possible as in the woods a lot of dogs are off their lead and appear out of nowhere. You need to come up with an action plan of what you/child will do whenever you come across a dog, as we all know that a natural reaction is to run away screaming, which is exactly what we shouldn't do! I also have the opposite problem, where my four year old mindee just does not 'get it' when it comes to dog safety and will run towards any dog whilst barking at it thinking it is hilarious, and another mindee who copies everything he does (I actually had 'dog safety' (for want of a better phrase) as his PSE target.) So dogs, much as I love them, are the bain of my life when walking in the woods with that particular trio of kids!

Remember, mindees are a lot smaller than us and so a little dog that is lower than our knee is pretty much shoulder height to a child.

Good luck! x

30-08-2015, 08:36 PM
Thanks Maza - older child has been well warned not to say anything about siblings fear of dogs, and I try and keep him close by so I can stop any wee jibes he might have !!
I have worked so hard getting LO used to my dog, she helps put out food, check water, short times spent in same area as my dog whilst under full supervision. She even pets him and rubs his ears with a little gentle encouragement Its not as if I have a docile dog - it is an energetic noisy jack russell. 90% of the time she is really good with him.
Not sure if the forest thing is dogs bounding out of nowhere which makes it worse and now full on fear of any dog within her sight.

30-08-2015, 09:48 PM
I think like Maza suggests, this LO needs a strategy for what she does when meeting a dog. As others have said, it is a genuine fear for some and so I don't think they should try and like dogs but learn how to cope when one walks by. Afterall it is a life skill as there are so many dogs as pets in our country.
The idea of using pretend dogs and acting out a scenario of how to manage a dog being near in a park/ wood setting might work - if you use puppets with photos of children on sticks they can talk about how they feel and then build on this -supporting her on how to cope - big brother then can be involved around everybody has a role to play and learn how to support her too by holding her hand say...and say nothing!
I think however that you cannot stop going out completely. The more positive experiences of dogs ignoring her the more she may relax a tiny bit, it's just going to blow into a really huge problem if contact is avoided completely.
Tell parents of the action plan/ strategy you and the children decide so that they can reinforce the positive when she cries in the morning.