Fear of Dogs

So a few months ago Heidi got nipped on the belly by a dog. Prior to that, she had been fearless around dogs. Dog in question was a puppy who was very overexcited and didn’t mean to harm just over exuberant.

Since then Heidi has been very scared of dogs. Today we visited my grandma at her nursing home. They have a dog who lives there and it came up to say hello. Heidi screamed LOUD and tried to climb me. So I picked her up, rather than risk more screaming. Even though I know picking Heidi up reinforces the fear – mummy thinks it is scary enough to lift me out of danger = it must be dangerous.

Mostly mummy was just trying to avoid more nurses running to see what the screaming was all about – the attention of three nurses was enough.

But I’m puzzled as to how to proceed. Heidi loves animals, we’ve got books from the library written for children about how to interact with dogs safely, we’ve talked it over, got a social story in the pipeline.

But what do I do at the moment? Do I stand with Heidi and encourage her to say hello if the dog is friendly and owner agreeable. Do I let her climb up me and carry her to safety?

I think we need to find someone who lives near us with a placid dog who we can visit and help overcome the fear.

Guest Submitted Post

Guest Submitted Post

Join Autisable and Share Your Story!

0 thoughts on “Fear of Dogs

  • October 7, 2010 at 10:02 am
    Permalink

    Well, she will grow out of it. Although you could probably get her to accept dogs, it makes sense that she’s scared! Children can be the same size as dogs and easily fall over and be pushed around by them, plus, your daughter was already bit! If she doesn’t want to play with dogs now, just wait until she is ready. 

    Reply
  • October 7, 2010 at 2:33 am
    Permalink

    My teacher was talking to us about this, she’s also a therapist. I think what she said one of the best things to do would be to encourage the child to pet a dog/puppy as long as it looked friendly and the owner was okay with it and just to talk the child through it and/or pet it with them. I know when I was younger, my friend was walking her jack russell terrier and I was with her. A little boy came up and she encouraged the boy to stay away from the dog, but he was 3 and didn’t listen. The dog ended up biting a junk out of his lip. I’ve been terrified of dogs since then and that was about 12 years ago. It might work if you have a dog that’s more consistent that she can become more familiar with over a few days/months or whatever. 

    Reply
  • October 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm
    Permalink

    I had never been afraid of dogs…and laughed at adults who were, (that is, the women that ran dramatically screaming and waving their arms from a big but otherwise friendly dog) until I almost got bitten by a very ferocious pooch named Trouble. In his defense, he thought I was breaking in to his home, when I was just there to feed him. I got scared at his ferocious barking, he sensed my fear, lunged across the room at me, and would have taken a chunk out of me had I not smacked him with the broom. The dog hates me to this day, and I’ve been scared of dogs since then…I’m getting better though, I’m really only skiddish now around suspicious large dogs. Small doses definitely help. In the beginning, anything more than a cuddly puppy made me nervous. 

    Reply
  • October 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm
    Permalink

    My niece used to be like that around my puppy (because he is quite active and playful).  But when I showed her myself (by interacting with him infront of her) that there was nothing to be afraid of, she began to open up to him in time.  Now when she comes over, she’ll high five me and go straight to him.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm
    Permalink

    Autistic kids can bond with cats and dogs; if they don’t like to talk to people, they can talk with and open up to a pet. If it disrupts their routine, expect them to be upset at first. But they will warm up the animal soon. I’m definitely not saying get a dog though, if your autistic child is scared of dogs. You just need to expose her to laid back dogs that won’t get too excited when they see people.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm
    Permalink

    once my grandma’s dog bit me, it was my fault, i know why but still…i’m afraid of dogs like hell >___>

    Reply
  • October 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm
    Permalink

    @SavonDuJour@xanga – better yet, get in touch with a good animal shelter and see if they can help when a child is afraid of animals!  My local animal shelter has small animals too.

    Meanwhile, for all I know from reading leechbabe’s post, Heidi’s specifically afraid of *dogs* and already doesn’t have any fear of other animals like fish, birds, and kittens.

    @leechbabe – I agree, definitely keep Heidi’s other sensitivities in mind with this!  Also, “I was thinking along similar lines and have approached our local Guide Dog for the Blind association to see if they have a retired dog we could visit.” is a really, really good idea because isn’t part of being trained to guide a blind person is being trained to behave well with all the other people that person will meet, including shy children?

    @amyunicorn@xanga – Awww!  😀  I also hope the daycare teachers teach the kids how to approach dogs properly (ask the dog’s human for permission first, if s/he says Ok then hold out your hand for the dog to sniff, then if the dog doesn’t shy away or ignore you go ahead and pet).  It’s not just a one-way street.

    @amyunicorn‘sgreyhound – good dog! woof! woof!

    Reply
  • October 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm
    Permalink

    @June – I have a greyhound and there is a daycare center around the corner from my house. Sometimes the kids are taken on a short walk around the block, and some of the kids squeal with delight when they see the dog, and some shy away/cry. She stands at about eye-level with them, and is usually panting so that can be scary to have a large dog showing their teeth in their face(s), so I have her ‘come’ to me so she’s standing towards me, and she puts her head against my leg/into my hand. That way she’s not menacing or intimidating by look AT the kids, and they can reach out and pet her if they want. She absolutely loves kids and I found this to be the best approach. I have had the daycare workers comment that some of the kids that they figured would never, ever pet a dog due to fears has reached out for her when I do it this way.

    @leechbabe – That’s a wonderful idea! I’d love to hear how it works out for you and for her!

    Reply
  • October 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm
    Permalink

    @SavonDuJour@xanga – Our local pet shop has puppies in the window so we can’t even walk past anymore Heidi starts to go in the opposite direction when we approach. Her sister finds pet shops very distressing with all the trapped animals 🙁

    Reply
  • October 5, 2010 at 6:29 pm
    Permalink

    @June – A yappy dog would be the worst given Heidi’s noise sensitivities. I think older placid dog would be the best solution. 

    Reply
  • October 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm
    Permalink

    @amyunicorn@xanga – I was thinking along similar lines and have approached our local Guide Dog for the Blind association to see if they have a retired dog we could visit.

    Reply
  • October 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm
    Permalink

    @camilla_ryver@xanga – Small doses is definitely best 🙂 getting down on the childs level is a good idea too thanks, that way I can see the dog as she sees it.

    Reply
  • October 5, 2010 at 11:24 am
    Permalink

    Maybe go to a pet shop and start with the fish and the birds and work around to where the cute little kittens and puppies are. When she is ok about being around caged puppies, then maybe look at the bigger dogs and eventually someone with a well-trained dog.

    Reply
  • October 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm
    Permalink

    @amyunicorn@xanga – awesome idea!  😀  Bigger dogs (adult instead of puppy, large breeds instead of small breeds, etc.) tend to be better for this, right?  I used to think larger dogs were scarier than smaller dogs, then I heard that the tiny breeds are more yappy and realized “of course, when you’re smaller more animals are bigger than you and therefore could be scarier, no wonder a Chihuahua sounds more aggressive than an Akita.”

    Reply
  • October 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm
    Permalink

    I would suggest finding someone with a well TRAINED dog that will sit/lay and stay at the owner’s command and allow your daughter to approach the dog. Encourage her to pet the dog, rather than have the dog come to her.

    Reply
  • October 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm
    Permalink

    i got big dog phobia too. And can’t blame her because I know i can’t never get over when they come closer to me at the park. I am fine with puppies and huggables.

    Reply
  • October 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm
    Permalink

    when my daughter acts afraid of a dog i get on her level and hold her, and tell her “see, it’s ok” but if she still acts scared i wouldn’t push it too far, just keep trying in small doses.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.