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Q: Does anyone know of any ways to get a little boy to stop being afraid of a dog?

May 9, 2010 | By Michelle A. | 5 answers | Expired: 1643 days ago

Michelle A.

My little nephew is freaked out of our black lab, Husker. My nephew hides behind things whenever Husker's in the room. I know its not that big of a deal but I'd really like to know. We've tried telling him that Husker is a nice doggy but my nephew is still really scared. If anyone has any input I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

Readers' Answers (5)
Stephanie  C.
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May 10, 2010

This is a result of him not being socialized well with dogs. In my opinion, it is a big deal. It's like having a shy-biter. Children may react out of fear and hurt the dog or cause the dog to growl/bite. A child who doesn't act 'normal' in the dog's eyes is a threat to the dog.

You're doing the right thing by bringing them together. At this point it is better to have a dog that is not interested in the child. Let him see that the dog is harmless and let the child progress at his own pace. If all he wants to do is hide behind the furniture, do something fun he wants to join in on. Don't make a big deal out of it, but act very nonchalant about the whole thing. Ignore the dog and go about your business. Don't pressure the child - the constant reinforcement of the fact that the dog is harmless and that you're not worried about it will get throuhg to him.

Try doing really interesting things that the child wants to do. Watch cartoons, make cookies, etc. always with the dog in the corner, lying down. Only give attention to the child, ask him if he wants to help. If the dog is exciteable, try using a different dog. Keep this up until the child shows improvement on his own. He will eventually become desensatized to the dog and warm up to him. It may take a while, but continue the 'no pressure' attitude and he should come around.

Good luck!

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Jillian
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May 10, 2010

it can be a slow process, but the more he see's dogs are not a threat, the less scary they'll seem. along w/stephanie's advice of desensitizing him to the dog, you may also want to try to educate the kid. children, whether they're comfortable w/dogs or not, have little knowledge about them. perhaps show him how labs are used as service or therapy dogs, and explain to him that dogs are not normally biters. that they usually aim to please their people and love their company. w/little experience w/dogs, a kid could have inherited fears from how some breeds have been negatively portrayed. at a young age, a child may not be equipped w/that bias of breeds, therefore associating a few stories w/the entire species - and they certainly won't understand that the media likes to take those few stories and blow them way out of proportion.
fears should be faced, but in a comfortable and controlled setting. follow stephanie's advice and when he starts to open up to dogs being friendly, consider showing him how to get a dog to sit and stay. this will allow the kid some control over what has become an anxious situation for him.

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Kitty W.
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May 11, 2010

He really needs to get used to the dog. It's understandable, since the dog is probably bigger than him, which probably freaks him out.

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