My 5 year old grandson has a fear of cats/dogs. He thinks the cats are going to kill him and eat him.

My husband has a friend with 2 small cats and 18 months ago, my grandson always wanted to see them. He never touched them or interacted with them.

Now he doesn’t want to see them as he says they will kill and eat him. My husband takes him to see the friend and he has no interaction with the cats. If one comes near him it’s full-on fear. The same with dogs but only if they come near him.

But then recently, he went shopping with my husband, and a dog was tied up outside the supermarket.’Why is the doggy tied up?’ He walked past it and waved and said ‘Bye doggy’ but had no reaction or fear. I just don’t know what to do. He watches a lot of you tube kids stuff so maybe getting he’s it from there?

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  • My now 10 year old daughter was fine with animals until she was about 2 years old. Almost overnight she went from loving them and being fine with them around/touching them etc to absolutely terrified. Screaming in utter fear whenever a cat/dog/rabbit/anything was remotely near her. No bad experience to cause this.
    My sister was the same, about the same age she suddenly became terrified of every animal and apparently so was my mum.

    Anyway my daughter was even terrified of our pet rabbit we had had since before she was born (best rabbit ever, super relaxed and amazing with my other 2 kids who loved him – he was best friends with my son who is 4 years younger than my oldest).

    About a year ago we got a cat. My husband always wanted one and she was of course terrified of the cat (again, super laid back cat). The cat decided she loved my daughter and would sleep on her pillow above her head at night. Somehow my daughter lost her fear of the cat and then of all animals with the cat being around all the time.

    My daughter now even loves dogs and I now have to remind her not to just walk up and pat any old dog without checking it is ok with the owners first!

    Your grandson may grow out of his fear and may not. But don’t make him feel worse and try to force things either (people have tried with my daughter in the past and it was disastrous).
    Be gentle with him and patient.
    It’s so hard to see them so scared though.

  • My son was afraid of dogs still after having incident in my friends house when he was little.

  • Try showing him pictures of kittens and puppies in books and then take him to see them in real life. Don’t make him touch them, just look at them from a safe distance for him. Not everyone will love cats and dogs but just so long as he’s not afraid of them that’s all you should be trying for. I wish you all the best at helping your son through this either getting him to like animals or at least not being terrorized by them.

  • It might be his friends at school/kinder or like you say, something he has seen on tv. My Daughter suddenly hates snakes, as her friend recently said they were yuk and horrible. Prior to this she was fine with them. If he doesn’t always react like this to cats and dogs I think it’s an influence from a peer. I would perhaps just let it pass as a phase, don’t draw attention to it, but also don’t put him in a situation with a dog or cat if he doesn’t want to interact just yet.

  • Maybe try to change up what he is watching and make sure he is getting a lot of happy fun playful animal videos…or even like paw patrol

  • YEah, I’d be inclined to try to see what he’s watching. But also, it sounds like if you don’t make a big deal out of it, he might grow out of it.

  • My daughter has a fear of dogs and cats from a very young age even now she is 26 years old and the fear is still there

  • I think it’s a slowly slowly response, providing opportunities to be around cats and dogs in a safe and friendly environment where at his own pace, he can interact with friendly support.

  • I would speak with a psychologist and see if there are any techniques you can use to lessen your grandson’s anxiety.

  • My neighbour is 70 and never got over his fear of dogs. Its something he’ll either grow out of or not

  • I think the best solution is exposure. My son used to fear dogs (even though we own 2) he’d start screaming if dogs in the dog park ran up to him to play. I kept persisting in taking him there and explaining that they just wanted to play and wouldn’t hurt him. Now I have trouble keeping him away from dogs!

  • Its a horrible thing to be scared of animals. I am scared of dogs and I have been since I was a kid. Maybe he should be taken to someone that specializes in help people with fear of animals

  • I think it might be best to see a counsellor.

  • I would start working a bit on this myself in a gently way, by first going to a safe place like a pet store where the animals are locked away and he can watch them play. Stay there for a bit and make observations on how cute they are. Then I would visit farms where you can pat animals. Another option is Animal assisted education like this https://www.animalassistededucation.org/ where they really can work on fears.

  • I think if you widen the child’s interaction with all animals is a better idea. Take the child to a farm where he can pat the animals like Calmsley Hill City Farm in Sydney’s south west. They have a patting area where chickens, baby lambs, goats and rabbits and Guinea Pigs. Kids really love this place. There are hay rides behind a tractor that takes you to visit the cows and horses and see working dogs round up the sheep. See sheep shearing and cow milking. You could take the child to many Zoo’s big city ones and smaller ones in smaller towns. There are animal sanctuaries like Fetherdale in Doonside offer walking and patting dingoes, Quokka and Koala’s and Kangaroo feeding. You will find kids respond differently to animals as they grow up. You could visit the RSPCA and pat the animals there too , so the child feels safe around animals. I don’t think his screen time has anything to do with it! I had a child that was terrified of ZOO animals thought they could get out of their enclosures like the LIONS and TIGERS until we visited DUBBO ZOO. The kids loved that place and their fears disappeared! It’s all about conditioning the kids and making them make up their own minds and letting them experience different environments and meeting different animals to enjoy their company. Talking about the keepers jobs and how important animals are to us like companion animals like SEEING EYE DOGS. Kids love learning and these places are fun to visit.

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