Fear of dogs is being indulged

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 April 2014

I’ve just come from the beach with my two small, well-behaved dogs. Today another child became hysterical at the mere sight of them.

This is recent – parents used to teach children how to behave around dogs, and there was no media frenzy.

Now children, especially girls, are becoming hysterical to the point of fainting, and the more they’re comforted and the more attention they get, the worse they become.

This is because the parents indulge their child’s bid for attention and reassurance, validate it and make it into a lifelong phobia.

Why would parents allow their child to scream at animals in this way? What is the point? Who does it help?

The best approach, if you’re not a dog lover, is to ignore dogs. Running, screaming, hysteria and squealing are prey responses which could put your child in danger. It is totally counterproductive.

People who self-righteously say “they should all be on leads” fail to understand that dogs have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, there are millions of them, and they are part of life.

Pandering to, or encouraging, a child’s hysteria about dogs is not intelligent parenting. If you must avoid dogs, booking a beach holiday in Exmouth before May 1st is not good planning either.

In addition, dog lovers can help by NOT cuddling other people’s dogs. A dog will jump up if it thinks it will be cuddled by a new friend. This is not what we want from dogs – so please leave other people’s dogs alone.

I’ve never seen such outright screaming hysteria as I have on the beach this week from girls. The parents are entirely responsible – they indulge it.

We need some common sense, because dogs are everywhere in this country, they are the much-loved companions of millions of people.

If your child is reacting this way, don’t encourage it. Attend a training course with your child – police and social services staff attend these courses too – it will give you the confidence you need, to treat dogs as a normal part of everyday life.

They’re in every street, town and city in the world. Please equip your child with some confidence rather than being overprotective.

Chloe Fox

(via email)

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