Saturday, May 29, 2010

If Dogs Really Are Man's Best Friend, How Come You're Afraid of Dogs?

Dogs are said to be man's best friend. We've got a long history of dogs helping us - either to round up sheep, look after our property or just generally wag their tail in appreciation at the slightest opportunity. Which makes it hard to work out why some people are afraid of dogs.

But the fear of dogs is a very real phenomenon.

A lot of people are worried by these creatures. Some people balk at the idea of ferocious looking dogs whilst others only have to be in the same road as a dog for their fear to manifest.

Although it's easier said than done, the best thing to do is to not show your fear. Animals have a much more developed instinct on this kind of thing than we do as humans. They can sense or even smell your fear. Which puts you at a distinct disadvantage before you begin.

So practice putting on a brave face rather than instinctively crossing the road at the merest hint of canine approach.

Next up, see if you can find a friendly dog to meet on neutral territory. You don't want to meet in the dog's house as that would give it "home ground" advantage. Maybe a park or other public place. Get used to being within a few yards of the dog without actually touching it. This will allow you to build up a small bond with the creature and is more likely to end with a good result.

When you're ready, which may not be for a few days or weeks, approach the dog. Keep eye contact so minimise the risk of showing the animal you used to be afraid of dogs. Let the dog smell you so that it's not worried either. Then, if you're up to it, stroke the dog. Watch for signs of appreciation - a discrete wag of the tail is a good sign, bared teeth less so (and a good reason for keeping the owner not too far away either).

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