My 2 year old daughter, Isabella, has developed a fear of dogs.
I can't pinpoint when it really started, but now she is petrified of dogs to the extent of wanting to be carried in my arms if ever a dog comes near. She usually says "don't eat me".
I find that some dog owners are sensitive to my daughter's fear and call for their dog, or move it away from her, others don't seem to care that their dog is jumping up at an obviously frightened child. This frustrates me.
Today we visited Lymington, just for a walk to see the boats and for the children to play in the park there. We walked up past the salt water swimming pool and sat and had some lunch. Just as we were about to leave a dog came past with its owner and Isabella ran to Daddy for protection. The owner on seeing Gary pick Isabella up commented saying "Oh, he won't hurt her for Gods sake". How rude! Gary was having none of that and told the owner that there was no need for her rude comment and that he was simply reassuring HIS daughter who currently has a REAL fear of dogs.
Just the other day we went to a local tea garden and sat with the children having an ice-cream. A small dog approached us and the owner shouted over to say that it was just wanting the ice-cream but that he was a friendly dog. I explained to the owner that my daughter has a real fear of dogs and so he proceeded to pick his dog up in his arms and bring him over for my daughter to stroke. I politely asked him not to bring the dog over while my daughter was eating an ice-cream - not being pet owners we don't encourage our children to touch animals while they are eating.
I realise that it is important for dogs to exercise and that owners like to take a walk with their pets in public places. However, where children are concerned it would be nice if owners could respect the fact that often their dogs are bigger than toddlers and that must be frightening in itself to a 2 year old child. When a dog comes near, sniffing, barking and jumping up, my child of 2 years is not going to realise that the dog is just being friendly, and indeed, as a parent I'm not going to know that your pet is friendly and not a danger to my children.
As for dog mess on pavements - just think how you'd feel if I let my toddlers poop on the pathway!
This is a rant following two specific incidents, but also of others that have occurred over a period of time. On balance I also have to add that I have witnessed many pet owners religiously clearing up their dogs mess immediately and owners that keep their pets on leads or have them very well trained to return to them when called.
As for my daughters fear of dogs, its something that I think I need to handle very gradually and any tips or advice for helping her to overcome this fear would be gratefully appreciated.