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Petrified of dogs

(27 Posts)
Lumarei Tue 12-Feb-19 16:48:19

I never had a dog and grew up in a village where dogs were not kept indoors but lived in kennels outside guarding the property. When I passed the property the dog would suddenly appear from nowhere, jump up on the fence and bark incessantly until you had passed. I would get such a fright knowing what was about to happen and used to plan long detours to avoid particular houses on my way to school.

All my life I have been scared of dogs and dogs know it. When I go for a walk where dogs don’t have to be on the lead they would bound towards me jumping up on me (not necessarily barking). If I walk with my husband or a friend they would ignore them and jump up on me only.

My husband says it is because they smell/sense my fear from miles away and that they want to dominate me. (He grew up with dogs).

Yesterday I was walking and deep in my thoughts when suddenly something scratched and jumped up my legs (it was very muddy) and since I hadn’t noticed him, I could not have given off any vibes of fear. Btw the owner called him from about 100yds and dog did not react.

When I call for the owners who are usually too far away to be of any help, I hardly get an apology just informing me that the dog is harmless or that he normally doesn’t do such a thing. My resentment increases with every incidence (which I am sure the dogs sense) and I am now reluctant to go for walks in the countryside.

I don’t have a phobia because I am not afraid of dogs who walk beside their owners or where I know the owner is in control. I am actually fond of my friend’s dog and play with him and stroke him. However a dog running towards me ahead of the owner makes me want to scream as I know what is about to happen.

So far nobody has been able to give me any advise what to do to prevent a dog from jumping on me other than unhelpful suggestions not to be scared.
Is there anything you can suggest - a whistle or any other item that would protect me.

ClareAB Tue 12-Feb-19 17:00:53

The only thing you can actively change is your own responses.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is good for learning how to deal/manage situations you find stressful.

tanith Tue 12-Feb-19 17:06:18

Try what the dog whisperer does, he extends his arm in a sort of stabbing motion with fingers spread and stands very strong with feet apart don’t make eye contact but make a noise like shhhh or a click with your tongue as loud as you can. It seems to stop a dog in its tracks he said it blocks or switches their brain to a calmer state.

I know it’s no joke being afraid of them.

muffinthemoo Tue 12-Feb-19 17:07:38

Lift knee as you see them incoming. They bounce off it harmlessly and they are generally extremely reluctant to take further incomprehensible tumbles.

This is generally how puppies of large breeds are gently taught not to leap up on their owners and slobber them with kisses.

HildaW Tue 12-Feb-19 17:43:57

When training a dog you are taught that if a dog jumps up at you, you fold your arms and quickly turn your back on them. It usually deters them.

sodapop Tue 12-Feb-19 17:47:24

I think ClareAB's suggestion was helpful. The other thing to do is turn away from the dog when you see it coming toward you and ignore it if you can.
I thought the dog whisperer's methods were largely discredited now.
I have dogs and am often appalled by the thoughtlessness of some owners. Of course not everyone shares our love of our pets, we should ensure that the feelings of others are respected.

MrsEggy Tue 12-Feb-19 17:48:22

When DH was doing a lot of country walking he had a device called a dazer which emits an ultrasonic sound which dogs don't like - they usually stop in their tracks and slink away. It doesn't harm dogs - our cat didn't like it either! I believe it is still available. It doesn't work on deaf dogs.

Wheniwasyourage Tue 12-Feb-19 17:53:20

I sympathise, Lumarei. I am scared of aggressive dogs too, and absolutely hate being barked at when I am just passing somebody's house on a public pavement.

Although I was brought up with dogs, I don't want to play with anyone's pet, however friendly it is said to be, any more than I would expect a complete stranger to want to play with my (often sticky) toddler DGC.

It is a bit alarming, I find, that so many people now think it is necessary to have 2 dogs, rather than 1. They are not all professional dog walkers.

Lumarei Tue 12-Feb-19 19:12:40

ClareAB thank you. That is what everybody tells me but how can you switch off or change fear? It is not that I approach dogs and engage with them wrongly. I often turn around and walk the other way only to see another dog walker approaching.

Thank you Tanith, muffin, Hilda, Sodapop, Mrs Eggy and Wheniwas for the practical tips. I don’t make eye contact and I was told that is wrong. I have turned around when my SiL visited with 10month old puppy but he just jumps up my back. She does not seem to be able to control him verbally and has to keep him on a lead so that is scary for me.

DH says I am too timid and I should be more aggressive but I fear that would enrage them.

I will try raising my knee and I will definitely buy a dazer. I keep telling myself not to be afraid and that a bite won’t kill me necessarily.

Just to set the record straight. I am not a timid person other than around dogs.
Thank you once again.

Treebee Tue 12-Feb-19 19:22:21

I’m afraid of dogs too, and walking is my main form of exercise. If I see a dog off the lead I’m very wary. If they come towards me I stand still and turn around.
Being told by the owner they it won’t hurt me is no help; I have turned and run in the past.
I’ll watch this thread with interest.

NfkDumpling Tue 12-Feb-19 19:27:28

I was brought up with dogs and very used to them - but I don’t appreciate muddy dogs jumping up. I usually find that a straight arm with wide flat palm facing the dog in a pushing down motion, even both hands if they’re really exuberant, with a stern “Down” will usually stop them in their tracks.

I do then put my hand low for the dog to smell and make a fuss of them, but I like dogs. Never lift your hands up as that encourages them to jump up.

FlexibleFriend Tue 12-Feb-19 19:53:39

I've got 5 dogs of my own but don't appreciate strange dogs leaping on me muddy or not. I just stand there and as they get close lunge towards them with a clenched fist outstretched ( I don't want to lose any fingers thanks) and forcefully tell them to stay. It works for me but I'm not scared so have no idea how convincing you will be. Once they've calmed down they can sniff my hands etc and if they're friendly I'm happy to make a fuss of them. Never come across a really aggressive one yet , shame you can't say the same for the owners.

NfkDumpling Tue 12-Feb-19 20:00:46

A similar action I suppose Flexible. Sort of punching/pushing them away with the hand motion before they get to you. I think keeping your fingers tucked in is a good move. I hadn’t thought of that.

Iam64 Tue 12-Feb-19 20:30:46

as sodapop said earlier, if you're training dogs the advice is to fold your arms and turn away from them if they're jumping up. Any voice or touching will be perceived by the dog as encouragement to do it more.
I have a doggy don't, it's a small hand held device that emits a high pitched noise if a dog is running to you, they usually turn away. I bought it to help one of my dogs who had been attacked more than once, no fault of his own but he became reactive, if a big dog was running into his space, he'd snarl and growl. Using the device deterred other dogs but because mine was used to it, he wasn't upset by it.
Some dog trainers recommend a small plastic water bottle, put some stones in it and rattle it at any dog entering your space.

ClareAB Tue 12-Feb-19 20:38:15

Here is an explanation of how CBT can help with your feelings around dogs. There's a whole lot online that might help you decide whether it could help you or not.

I hope you find it helpful. It can be very empowering smile

Urmstongran Tue 12-Feb-19 21:07:22

I was bitten on my face by a Westie when I was 20y. I had stitches around my upper lip. It made me wary of dogs for years....

Then I married. Had children. Bought a sweet little Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

15y later bought 2 roan Cocker spaniel sisters from a litter from a breeder. The most gentle of dogs with soft mouths and the sweetest of natures.

Iam64 Tue 12-Feb-19 21:09:37

Were they blue roan cocker spaniels Urmstongran? My first pup after setting up my own home was a blue roan - as you say gentle dogs with soft mouths and sweet natures.

Urmstongran Tue 12-Feb-19 21:28:27

Oops! Yes they were blue roans Iam64
The best family dogs ever! Always super adoring (and adorable). They used to be so pleased when we came home they used to bring us ‘a present’ ... a sock, or a toy and lay it at our feet. One of their traits apparently.

Lumarei Tue 12-Feb-19 21:40:14

I am taking heart and I am so grateful for your very practical help and above all for not belittleing my fear which is what usually happens. Fear of spiders (which I don’t have) seems to be taken seriously but with a fear of dogs is regarded as weird.

CBT really needs the help of a therapist and in the article following your link one admitted that they can never take someone’s fear go away just make the fear more manageable. My (maybe mistaken) belief was that dogs can’t be fooled as they can sense/smell fear and will see through my “act”.

Tomorrow I will put your suggestions into practice and see if my change in behaviour is effective. smile

paddyann Wed 13-Feb-19 00:26:18

I've been scared of strange dogs since I was about three when a small terrier type almost took my eye out,I didn't touch it it just turned on me.I still cross the road to avoid dogs that aren't on leads .I try to be brave when I have a GC with me but I turned and walked home when a woman came towards me with 3 Malamute type dogs without leads and I couldn't cross the road because there were dogs over there too.I felt a right eegit telling my GD I'd forgotten my purse but there was no way I could walk past them .I'm fine with dogs I know though even had two ,one for 9 years and the other for 6 thinking it might "cure " me didn't

Anja Wed 13-Feb-19 07:43:57

paddyann it is illegal to have dog off leads on roads and pavements.

Lumarei Wed 13-Feb-19 08:09:50

Last year when DGD was 1.5 years old she was bitten in the face by a dog, She looked horrific with heavy bruising, small incisions and visit to A&E though no stitches. My daughter had visited a friend who was looking after her parents dogs and dear GD patted him probably unexpectedly and the dog turned and snapped. I am told if he had meant to hurt her it would have been far worse but that he just batted her away with a snap.

Luckily she healed within weeks with no scars (children of that age heal sooo quickly) left and she is not afraid of dogs. Her other GP have a gentle huge Labrador (even I am comfortable around him) and she doesn’t mention the incident. DD daughter was mortified because she was in the room and saw the incident out of the corner of her eyes.

Anja Wed 13-Feb-19 08:18:29

Your GD ought not to have been anywhere near a dog you don’t know well. I’m so glad she is not scarred or scared.

Iam64 Wed 13-Feb-19 09:42:28

Urmston gran - you're so right about blue roan cocker spaniels. They are fantastic family members, with such happy , gentle temperaments.

Lumarei, good to hear your granddaughter is ok but as Anja says she shouldn't have been anywhere near a dog she doesn't know. Also, all children must be trained not to put their faces near dogs, even dogs they do know well. Most dogs pose no threat at all but no dogs enjoy small children getting in their faces.

All dogs need training. I don't like to grumble too much but here goes, there are too many people who get dogs and refer to them as 'fur babies'. No they aren't, they're dogs and benefit from being treated with respect, as dogs. They need firm boundaries to be Kindly but consistently maintained. They're rather like small children in that. They should be left alone and if an adult, or especially an adult in charge of a child, wants to approach the dog and touch it the owner/handler of the dog must always, without exception, be asked permission first. Dogs are like people, they don't all like company, or talking to strangers.

Lumarei Wed 13-Feb-19 10:26:16

DD felt very guilty for not being more vigilant. I am usually petrified until I am assured by the owner (and a bit of time) and relax. I can’t read dogs. My DD has always accused me for passing my fear onto her and told me I should have been more relaxed when she was young.
I remember when my DD was a toddler meeting a friend with a shepherd dog and my DD started stroking him and the friend asked me to remove her. The dog was an extremely well trained ex police dog I knew well and I was not afraid of so I was very grateful for her vigilance and caution as most dog owners play down the risk or danger.