If your little one has a fear of dogs, they’re destined to have strained interactions aplenty—dogs are a plentiful part of life. What’s more, canines can read emotions pretty well, and if a kid shows they’re scared, the dog can become agitated, leading to a potentially dangerous situation. Here’s how to help your children learn to relax around—and maybe even love—what could one day be their best friend.
“Dogs can definitely tell when you’re afraid. Kids sometimes have a hard time,” says dog trainer, PJ Ward. “Especially with an unknown dog, parents should keep the tension as low as possible.” In other words, it’s up to you to model a calm and positive demeanour around the dog.
Start by getting to know a dog yourself, first. Chat to the owner. Make sure the dog is an easygoing one, and not prone to nipping. Then introduce it to your child.
Ward cautions that finding the ‘right’ dog for an introduction is not necessarily about breed. Look at dogs on an individual basis.
“I would recommend finding a dog whose temperament is not as hyper, with a little more mellow temperament,” says Ward. “It’s not really all about the breed. It’s the dog’s temperament and disposition.”
If you’re serious about ridding your child of canine fear, enrol yourself in training alongside the chosen dog—bring your child along. Professionals can help them identify the dog’s subtle cues, and empower them with a sense of control, and confidence.
While you should never choose an introductory doggie based solely on breed, these are known to be more family-friendly, says Ward. But always filter them based on individual temperament—
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel