I love dogs but my BF is terrified of them...?

eurasiangirl

Member
Nov 9, 2011
361
1
Hey all

My BF is terrified of dogs. There was an attack incident when he was a child that he's never gotten over. He freezes immediately when he sees a dog and has to cross the street when he sees one coming his way, or has to at least walk a longgg way around the dog and owner. I, on the other hand, am a big fan of dogs and would love to have one in the (distant) future - my favorite breed being the German Shepherd, and I'd love to get an older one from a rescue when (if?) the time comes.

I'm a psych student so these sort of things interest me but I'm at a loss of how to help my BF. Has anyone ever had such a situation where a SO was terribly afraid of dogs but was able to get over it (with some sort of help)? What would you suggest? Some sort of therapy with a professional? Exposure to friendly dogs? I want to show him that not all dogs are bad and aggressive and can be such friendly, loyal and noble creatures. I also think that having a dog phobia can be pretty crippling considering how many dogs there are out there in the community, and I would like to be able to help him (instead of allow the phobia to get worse, etc)

Tips are appreciated!

(I would adopt this girl in a heartbeat if it was the right time....http://www.gsrne.org/danika.htm how precious is she)
 
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ksammon

Member
Aug 30, 2006
1,154
1
wow am sorry for ur bf and u ....how does he feel about this ?? does he want help? ..i'm afraid of snakes and dont wish to every be near one lol its a little diff but fear is fear ... i mean what about puppies??and i mean little baby ones some ppl dont like big dogs ???..i hope you guys can work it out
 

eurasiangirl

Member
Nov 9, 2011
361
1
wow am sorry for ur bf and u ....how does he feel about this ?? does he want help? ..i'm afraid of snakes and dont wish to every be near one lol its a little diff but fear is fear ... i mean what about puppies??and i mean little baby ones some ppl dont like big dogs ???..i hope you guys can work it out

He feels like he can skate through life with this problem...but I sort of think otherwise :/ and I've said it to him countless times. It's not like we're married or anything yet but he's a serious BF and the possibility is there (albeit far in the future) but owning a dog is definitely something I've been thinking about for after my days as a student is over and I'm in "the real world" yada yada. I think it'd just be such a shame if I couldn't eventually get one because he's so afraid of them, which is why I'd like to address the problem sooner rather than later, if you know what I mean. I'd like to think that the problem can be solved somehow if we work at it slowly and by the time a dog can enter our lives he'll have no problem with them. (Being optimistic....lol)

And with puppies...sure they're adorable but they eventually grow up to be big(ger) dogs! So he'd have to get over their size at some point (and I would really want an older dog though anyways)
 

ksammon

Member
Aug 30, 2006
1,154
1
yes puppies do grow up to be bigger ..but if u start off with a little puppy then he can trust it more ..most ppl don't trust other dogs only there own lol ...maybe u can go the SPCA near u or around ur area and ask to see the puppies ...last week we went in and saw a litter that some one dumped in the road they where like 5 weeks ..the tiny little things .see what he thinks of them...i wouldnt push him in to a big dog or something dogs sell fear and weakness and that's not good ..and sadly someone ppl are not dog ppl and dont care to change ...am not saying it couldnt work but its going to take work and he's got to care enough to do it for himself and for you



He feels like he can skate through life with this problem...but I sort of think otherwise :/ and I've said it to him countless times. It's not like we're married or anything yet but he's a serious BF and the possibility is there (albeit far in the future) but owning a dog is definitely something I've been thinking about for after my days as a student is over and I'm in "the real world" yada yada. I think it'd just be such a shame if I couldn't eventually get one because he's so afraid of them, which is why I'd like to address the problem sooner rather than later, if you know what I mean. I'd like to think that the problem can be solved somehow if we work at it slowly and by the time a dog can enter our lives he'll have no problem with them. (Being optimistic....lol)

And with puppies...sure they're adorable but they eventually grow up to be big(ger) dogs! So he'd have to get over their size at some point (and I would really want an older dog though anyways)
 

Myrkur

Góðan Daginn
Jun 9, 2011
6,187
534
Cute dog! I love shepherds.

Yes, definitely let your boyfriend meet nice dogs. Yesterday my boyfriends nephew came by and he is also afraid of dogs. One of my dogs also started to bark, this was Kenta, because he never saw him before and he wanted him to know that it was his territory. My other dog, Kitsu, was super excited and started licking everyone.

Anyway, they got send up upstairs. But when we got down, Kenta started to cry because he has separation anxiety (something to do with previous owners). The nephew really didn't wanted the dogs to come downstairs but I felt bad for my dogs. I first let Kitsu in, after a while he noticed Kitsu is not scared at all, he actually thought my dog was funny and an attention whore.

Then I got Kenta downstairs, I picked him up and put him on a fur carpet, he totally ignores everyone and just lays down on the carpet. When I made myself a sandwich, Kenta came to me to see what I had. He jumped on the couch next to me and the nephew and he still ignored him. He was already ok with the fact he was there.

What I'm trying to say is, he probably will still be afraid for new dogs, but this was just something to show him that not all dogs are mean and not all dogs bite. Sorry for the long story, lol
 

ksammon

Member
Aug 30, 2006
1,154
1
My brother when he was about 3 got bitten by a dog ..by a golden lab ... my mom said NO DOGS will ever enter our home no dog will come near us EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! will about 7 years later my mom bought a small poodle mix and mom loves her ..my brother loves her ...Now we went to the spca bc am looking for a dog .,, and we saw a boxer that i thought was sooo cute ..so we went into the visiter room my mom would not come into the room to see him at all //she later told me she was afraid of him ...and doesn care for big dogs
 

sharknbark

Like a Sloth
O.G.
Jul 26, 2007
558
1
Unless your BF also thinks his reactions to dogs are a problem, I wouldn't push the issue. If your BF does want to change, then I think the next step is deciding if the phobia is severe enough for professional help. If he is afraid of all dogs, I would suggest professional help. Otherwise, if he's OK w/certain breeds, then I would suggest increased exposure to those dogs (assuming they are w/competent owners and are well-behaved/socialized) in order to build his confidence in comfortably interacting w/dogs. From there, your BF may be able to interact w/other breeds in controlled situations. But even if your BF becomes comfortable around all dogs, he may never want certain breeds as a pet, which is OK. Hope all works out.
 

HauteMama

.
O.G.
Sep 22, 2006
11,580
1,193
I very much agree that this depends on whether your BF WANTS help with this issue. Much like the person who mentioned snakes (and this would apply to many other animals, as well, like insects and birds, etc.), maybe he is fine the way he is and doesn't want to learn to like dogs. That ought to be his decision to make. If his phobia bothers you so much, you may have to make a decision at some point about which matters more, your BF or a pet.
 

Hessefan

O.G.
Sep 14, 2009
2,416
552
I was very scared of cats growing up, partly because of bad childhood experiences and partly because my mother was always scared of all animals. She also had to cross the street when we saw a dog and wouldn't go in a room if one was in there.
When I met my husband I knew he was a cat lover but never thought I could cope. We adopted a GSD cross and love him to bits. One of my colleagues had a cat who got pregnant and was looking for homes for her kittens. Knowing how much my husband loved cats I thought we could go see them. Even though I was scared to even pick up 3 week old kittens, we decided to adopt two of them and brought them home two months later. Now I can't imagine my life without cats and wonder what I was ever scared of.
Since we got our dog, my mother also got over her fear after staying with us a few times. Since our dog is quite large it took a lot of courage on her part. She asked her neighbours to introduce her to their dogs before she came to visit and slowly realised our boy was a big goof.
It is possible, but I wouldn't push it. It takes time and the willingness to try to get over phobias.
 
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sdkitty

O.G.
Jan 16, 2006
32,597
59,401
These type of fears are deep rooted and if he doesn't see the need to change, it probably won't happen.
I had a friend who was afraid of cats (instilled by her mother in childhood). Her son wanted a kitten when he was little so she relented and adopted one. Her DH loved cats but she couldn't get over her phobia even with a little kitten. She was afraid the cat would come up the stairs and get her in her bedroom.
She brought it back to the shelter. Her husband told her after that experience "no more animals." She told her son the kitty went to a farm.
very sad
sorry to be negative but this is what I know about a person with this type of fear
 

ksammon

Member
Aug 30, 2006
1,154
1
These type of fears are deep rooted and if he doesn't see the need to change, it probably won't happen.
I had a friend who was afraid of cats (instilled by her mother in childhood). Her son wanted a kitten when he was little so she relented and adopted one. Her DH loved cats but she couldn't get over her phobia even with a little kitten. She was afraid the cat would come up the stairs and get her in her bedroom.
She brought it back to the shelter. Her husband told her after that experience "no more animals." She told her son the kitty went to a farm.
very sad
sorry to be negative but this is what I know about a person with this type of fear


ya, what happens if you get a dog and hoping for him to cope ...or for him to learn " to like it " you think all is going well ...and then he says.. its me or the dog ? now you have to pick losing either ...and the poor animal goes to a shelter no fault of his own but that the co-owner was afraid...or u lose a b/f ....i would see if he wants help if he wants to get over his fear
 

eurasiangirl

Member
Nov 9, 2011
361
1
ya, what happens if you get a dog and hoping for him to cope ...or for him to learn " to like it " you think all is going well ...and then he says.. its me or the dog ? now you have to pick losing either ...and the poor animal goes to a shelter no fault of his own but that the co-owner was afraid...or u lose a b/f ....i would see if he wants help if he wants to get over his fear

Thanks all for the responses!

No worries - I'm not going to be tossing him to the sharks (er, dogs :biggrin:) and hope for the best haha. There definitely won't be any drastic measures like that! I am well aware of the importance of getting a dog (or any pet, really) when it's totally feasible and I can fully commit to it and the responsibilities that come with it. No question about it. Obviously right now being in the middle of my studies, traveling a lot, etc would be a bad time.

I'm really just looking towards the future and this thread is really for me to see if there's anything I can do now (as opposed to later, when it's theoretically feasible to get a dog) to perhaps slowly help him with his fear, based on other people's experiences.

Any further comments are appreciated!
 

renza

O.G.
Jan 3, 2009
3,700
28
First, I am a German Shepherd lover too! :hugs: My family pet was a German Shepherd we picked out at 5 1/2 weeks old (brought her home a few weeks after that). We had to put her to sleep at the age of 13 a few years ago, and I still miss her. GSDs are the best dogs.

Dogs are central to my life to the point where it would be a dealbreaker for me if a potential partner didn't like dogs. Heck, I didn't even pay attention to my DH 8 years ago until I found out that he had a dog (who is now our dog). ;) So I completely understand why you want to find out if it's possible for your boyfriend to get over his phobia.

That said, from what you posted, it doesn't sound like he is very interested in getting over his fear. If he doesn't see how important this is to you and is perfectly fine with living his life avoiding all dogs he sees, then there isn't anything you can do. However, if he is open to trying to overcome his fear, there was a recent Dog Whisperer episode that addressed fear of dogs. In that episode, the woman was afraid of dogs because she was attacked as a child. Every time she visited her sister, who had a pit bull, her sister would have to put the dog in the side yard so the sister could run into the house.
The steps to overcome her fear appeared pretty simple although it took some time and effort--she went to a therapist, and Cesar Milan taught her how to try and read dog's body language to understand if a dog is friendly, scared, aggressive, etc. Interacting with calm, friendly dogs also helped her a lot I think. Obviously your boyfriend wouldn't have the Dog Whisperer to help him :P but I think therapy is probably necessary.

Good luck!
 
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