My Child is Afraid of Dogs – Is There Anything I Can Do?

Even though we are known as a nation of animal lovers, not everyone has the same feelings towards our four-legged companions – in fact, a fear of animals is one of the top three phobias.  This is quite a surprising figure, given that dogs are the number one pet of choice in Britain. Is your child afraid of dogs? Read our Holidays4Dogs article for help and advice.

A fear of dogs is known as cynophobia. Like many phobias relating to a fear of animals, (spiders and snakes being two of the more common types), cynophobia often develops because a person has experienced a negative association with the dog. This often occurs during childhood.

Indeed, according to the University of York – fear of animals was one of the top three fears among 84% of children who took part in research on the subject of phobias in children.

Moreover, if you have a child who is afraid of dogs, this can be very upsetting not only for the child, but for the whole family.

Children’s reactions to dogs can vary depending on the individual child. Some children may be happy with dogs on the lead but show extreme tension around dogs running free.

Certain children may show only mild agitation, while others may become hysterical in the presence of dogs.

It can be devastating for the child in question who is afraid of dogs. Many struggle to deal with such fears. As a result, it be difficult for families who may find they have to avoid situations where the child might come into contact with dogs.

What can be done to help a child who is fearful of dogs? 

It largely depends on the individual child and the severity of the condition.  Usually, the child who is afraid of dogs, can be treated successfully with cognitive behavioural techniques.

You can speak to your GP who should be able to offer support. In addition, your GP may be able to refer you to other services that can help with the presentation of mental health problems in children.

Alternatively, you can contact the Dogs Trust which runs workshops – see below for more information.

Confidence workshops with the Dogs Trust

The Dogs Trust runs ‘Building Confidence Around Dogs’ workshops across the UK. You can book one of these for free.

The Trust has been working with psychologist Dr Olivia Kenneally to develop a programme to help support and guide children who are afraid of dogs. The courses can build confidence and help children to successfully overcome their fears.  You can find out more here:-