Fear of dogs is a very big reality for some people. Whether the fear stems from a scary childhood interaction or because their parents imposed their own fears onto them as children. I’m not here to judge anyone who has this fear. All I’m here to say is whatever the reason for the fear, being scared of something that’s such a big part of our society is a problem. There will be times when you encounter dogs, it’s inevitable. So here are some things you can do to buffer your fear and keep yourself a little more safe.
Whether your fear of dogs is rational or irrational there are some baby steps you can take to start your path to get over your fear. Here are some things you can try:
From the safety of your own home do some research. Get out your laptop and study the different dog breeds and characteristics. Read about dogs. Learn about their body language. DO NOT start off by googling ‘dog aggression’ or ‘aggressive dogs’. That will only send your fear into orbit. Start off by googling things like ‘dog body language’. Dogs are body language creatures, they communicate with their bodies. So educate yourself on their language. That way next time you see a dog you might be able to tell what they’re thinking.
Now that you’re a little more dog savvy, spend some time just watching them. Leave your house, go somewhere there’ll be dogs but DO NOT get close or try to approach them yet. Reason being is I don’t want to put you into a position you are not ready for. So if you go to a dog park, stay away from the entrance and do not go in. Just stay safely on the other side of the fence and position yourself somewhere you are nowhere near them.
Now just watch them. Picture what you’ve learned on the internet. Watch the way they communicate with each other and with people. See if you notice how they approach people. And see if you notice how different people respond to them. Did you notice, for instance, a different response from a dog when someone was happy to pet them as opposed to someone who was maybe a little nervous?
Look at yourself
Now look at yourself. How do you react when you see a dog? Do you have an obvious fearful reaction? Do you get stressed out? Dogs will react to your reaction. So if you startle, flail or in any way act out of ‘the norm’, that is you using your body language to tell the dog that you’re scared of them. And they’ll probably react to your fear. So, once again, from the safety of your own home, teach yourself how to react when you see a dog. Google things like ‘how to safely approach a dog’. Study the human body language ‘do’s and dont’s’.
In conclusion to this blog. After reading it in no way do I expect you to be ready to romp around with confidence among 50 dogs. This blog is written to start you on your path to being more confident around dogs. I don’t know how deep your fear is, and there’s never a guarantee that a dog won’t hurt someone. But in our society there’s never a guarantee of anything. Motor vehicle accidents are responsible for a huge amount of accidental deaths, for instance. Dogs are not. So you’re way more likely to be hurt by a car then a dog.
Learning about dogs when you live in a society where they’re everywhere is something everyone should do. Whether you have a fear of them or not. But most fears come from the unknown. Once you know more about them you might start to see your fear subside. Once it does you might be ready to start approaching them with confidence. So just start learning!
*Did you know that dogs can also improve your health? For more info click here.
Written by Brenda McBurnie, Certified Dog Trainer and Natural Nutrition
Please subscribe or share Askthedogexpert: