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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Occasionally we will go over to my brothers house, he has a 260 pound English mastiff. This won’t be an issue because everyone in our family loves dogs. But my four year old little girl is scared out of her mind, she doesn’t want to be in the same room with the dog unless I am holding her, The dog is very calm and doesn’t do anything wrong. My daughter doesn’t ever want to pet the dog or come anywhere close, even when I am right there next to her. She will run to me wanting me to lift her up. Of course I will comfort my daughter, but Why is she so scared of his dog?

my daughter loves animals. We have a border collie at home and they get along just fine. But when we go over to my brothers house, she gets so scared, when the dog starts barking, or stands up to go walk somewhere.

Can y’all please explain to me why she is guess so frightened?
 

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I'd guess it's because his dog is so big and she is just a little girl.

Why don't you just ask her why that dog scares her?
 
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I imagine it has a lot to do with the dog being huge and the child being very small. I have met a few mastiff type dogs, and I know they can be very intimidating looking and have a very deep, loud bark that can be startling even for a fully grown adult even though they've been quite gentle. I don't think this is a problem with the dog at all.

Perhaps she doesn't want to talk about it because she doesn't quite have the words to describe the why of her feelings? Children can be afraid of things and not really have specific reason why. Personally, I would validate her feelings and acknowledge that such a big dog can be scary, but assure her the dog doesn't want to hurt her. Don't force any interactions or make her feel like she has to pet the dog or even like him. Likely, as she grows her fear will fade.

You may, of course, want to consult someone who knows more about the "irrational" fears that children can have. We're pretty good with getting in a dog's head here, but not necessarily children! I'm sure there is plenty of research available on how to help children through their fears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The issue is within the little one. Some people are just scared of some things. That's not a problem that kids only have.

I would not stress about it. Just give things time. As she gets older, and has no negative interactions with the dog, she should lose her fear.
I’m just a little worried because she is really scared, I have to hold her anytime of the dog is in the room. Could you maybe take a guess as to why she is doing this? Again, she loves our border collie at home, she loves all dogs. But this one she is Terrified of for some reason.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'd guess it's because his dog is so big and she is just a little girl.

Why don't you just ask her why that dog scares her?
I have tried to talk to her about it, but she doesn’t want to talk. She just turned away I ask her

The dog hasn’t done anything to her, like I said. She loves our border collie at home. She loves all dogs. So why is she scared of my brothers?

I have friends that are A little bit bigger than me, I wouldn’t be scared unless they did something to me on purpose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I imagine it has a lot to do with the dog being huge and the child being very small. I have met a few mastiff type dogs, and I know they can be very intimidating looking and have a very deep, loud bark that can be startling even for a fully grown adult even though they've been quite gentle. I don't think this is a problem with the dog at all.

Perhaps she doesn't want to talk about it because she doesn't quite have the words to describe the why of her feelings? Children can be afraid of things and not really have specific reason why. Personally, I would validate her feelings and acknowledge that such a big dog can be scary, but assure her the dog doesn't want to hurt her. Don't force any interactions or make her feel like she has to pet the dog or even like him. Likely, as she grows her fear will fade.

You may, of course, want to consult someone who knows more about the "irrational" fears that children can have. We're pretty good with getting in a dog's head here, but not necessarily children! I'm sure there is plenty of research available on how to help children through their fears.
I have tried to work with her I’m not being scared. Even when I’m holding her in my arms, she will not pet the dog. I’m having a hard time figuring out why she’s so scared.

I have met people that are a little bit bigger than me, and I wouldn’t be scared unless they did something to me.
 

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I have tried to talk to her about it, but she doesn’t want to talk. She just turned away I ask her

The dog hasn’t done anything to her, like I said. She loves our border collie at home. She loves all dogs. So why is she scared of my brothers?

I have friends that are A little bit bigger than me, I wouldn’t be scared unless they did something to me on purpose.
The difference is that you are an adult who can reason through a fear. She is a very young child who only knows this dog is bigger than many adults.

When you were a child didn't you have fears? The boogie man? Snakes? Monsters under the bed? And so on. Was there any "logical" reason for your fear? Most likely not. It was simply that you were young and it scared you. As you grew up, you were able to put aside those fears.
 

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My childhood fear was of walking stick bugs. To this day I don't know why. They don't bother me now, and have not since I was a teenager. Little kids oftentimes have irrational fears.

Children are so young, they just don't think right. Their minds are still developing and changing. I work in a high school and the kids are mostly logical, but insanely stupid too, at that age. It's fun to watch, and reminds me of how little people that age have changed since I was one of them.
 

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I agree that she will probably have trouble articulating why, precisely, she fears this dog. Asking her may actually make her clam up and say nothing, leading to inner anxiety. That's worse.

I also agree that children have irrational fears. Though, in some cases (not this one), their fears turn out to be totally justified. Children and animals have a better sixth sense than most adults.

It would be best not to make her be in the same room as the dog. Must the dog stay in the room when you visit? This will backfire, in your arms or not. She obviously trusts you, so do the sensible thing, stop this and honor that trust.

People's brains don't stop developing and maturing 'till they're 25 years old. Here's a great guide to why this is normal, should be respected and why throwing them in the deep end isn't the solution: The Age-by-Age Guide to Kid Fears

The dog and child sound lovely, just not together. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I agree that she will probably have trouble articulating why, precisely, she fears this dog. Asking her may actually make her clam up and say nothing, leading to inner anxiety. That's worse.

I also agree that children have irrational fears. Though, in some cases (not this one), their fears turn out to be totally justified. Children and animals have a better sixth sense than most adults.

It would be best not to make her be in the same room as the dog. Must the dog stay in the room when you visit? This will backfire, in your arms or not. She obviously trusts you, so do the sensible thing, stop this and honor that trust.

People's brains don't stop developing and maturing 'till they're 25 years old. Here's a great guide to why this is normal, should be respected and why throwing them in the deep end isn't the solution: The Age-by-Age Guide to Kid Fears

The dog and child sound lovely, just not together. :)
That’s the thing, they are both very sweet, and I was just wondering why my little girl is so scared of this dog?

like I said, we have a border collie at home and they love each other, they play all my time. My daughter loves every other dog she has seen in her life.

yes, normally once I pick her up I’ll get the dog out of the room, and I’ll do my best so they can avoid each other. And if I ask her why is she scared of the god, she doesn’t want to talk about it, so I respect her.

but if I could just figure out why she is scared of my brothers dog.
 

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Because he's a HUGE dog!!!!
 

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Why doesn’t matter. Unlike something like a surgery, hanging out with this dog is unnecessary. Read the link I posted. There will be many things you don’t understand about her as she grows, but this isn’t a hill to die on. Have the dog out of the room before you even arrive.

Persevering in trying to explain the perfectly normal albeit irrational fear and trying to get her used to it by exposure and even petting is next door to flooding her (look that psych term up too). You’re headed straight down the path of making her fear of dogs permanent rather than transient, and perhaps even generalizing to all dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Why doesn’t matter. Unlike something like a surgery, hanging out with this dog is unnecessary. Read the link I posted. There will be many things you don’t understand about her as she grows, but this isn’t a hill to die on. Have the dog out of the room before you even arrive.

Persevering in trying to explain the perfectly normal albeit irrational fear and trying to get her used to it by exposure and even petting is next door to flooding her (look that psych term up too). You’re headed straight down the path of making her fear of dogs permanent rather than transient, and perhaps even generalizing to all dogs.
Ok. I’ll check it out. Thank you.
 

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Why are people afraid of sharks but not koi fish? Come on, she's like two feet tall. Anyway, it's not like being afraid of a 260 lb fanged beast is irrational. I have often considered, while allowing my dog to rest his bowling-ball sized head on my chest, such that I can feel his breath on my throat, the amazing faith we have in neoteny.
 

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I was afraid of dogs as a kid - especially very big dogs. From her perspective, this giant dog towers over her and could hurt her just by bumping into her. She's probably eye-level to the dog's big mouth and teeth. Even today, as a rational adult who understands dogs much better than I did as a kid, I'd be pretty nervous if I met a dog the size of a draft horse that could fit my head in its mouth!

You know there's no danger, because the dog is sweet and well mannered. She isn't in a place where she can understand and/or process that yet. Don't try to force her to interact with the dog, just let her get used to it being around at a distance. Give her comfort if she needs it, and talk to your brother about whether the dog could get put away in a closed room if she becomes very distressed during visits. It's important she understands that you will protect her and respect her feelings - especially fear - even when you don't understand them yourself.
 
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