10-Year-Old Overcomes Her Fear of Dogs at Helen Woodward Animal Center
Man’s best friend is unanimously one of the most-loved animals by humans around the world; however, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, a fear of dogs makes the “Top Ten List of Most Common Fears.” That’s why Helen Woodward Animal Center offers a program called “DogSmart,” which helps adults and children overcome their fear of dogs.
Paula, a 10-year-old girl, first came to Helen Woodward Animal Center in October, 2012. She had never been harmed, nor had any negative experiences with dogs, but she had a terrible fear of them and it was interfering with her day-to-day life. After meeting with one of our trained instructors and touring the Center, Paula and her mom decided that the DogSmart program would be a great opportunity for her to overcome her fear of dogs.
Every week Paula returned to meet with her instructor while being introduced to and interacting with various personalities and activity levels of Education dogs tested into the program. Paula gained new tools at each session to empower her in her everyday life. She learned how to appropriately meet new dogs, read canine body language, and how to act around a stray or aggressive dog. Not all days were enjoyable or easy for Paula, but she knew that she would have to challenge herself in these uncomfortable situations to overcome her fear of dogs.
After almost three months of working to overcoming her fear, Paula is now able to meet her goal of comfortably visiting friends’ houses that have a family dog. Not every situation is easy for Paula as she continues to overcome her fear, but she now knows and has the tools to understand dogs and succeed in a world that loves them.
Is there someone in your life that has a fear of dogs?
Anyone can conquer their fear of dogs! The DogSmart program uses specially trained, non-threatening behavior training dogs to help participants understand dog behavior. Students participate in classes tailored to their needs. All ages are welcome! If interested, please call our Education Department at 858-756-4117, Ext. 318, or send us an email – we’d be happy to help!