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Dr. Ed Wilfong
Dr. Ed Wilfong, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1528
Experience:  Twenty-five years treating all ages; Specialities: psychopharmacology & diagnosis, MMPI-2, testing.
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hi my daughter was attacked by 2 dogs just over a year ago

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hi my daughter was attacked by 2 dogs just over a year ago with my partner who managed to protect her unfourtantly my partner got a few teeth in her leg ever since my daughter is petrified of every thing especially with animals and its getting worse the inlaws have bought a bichon friese at first she would sit on the table with a metre long sausage string and play tug of war but ever since he managed to jump onto the chairs she wont go in the house unless hes outside i dont know whether its connected but shes very nervous about slides, swimming dark places etc but yet when shes with me and my partner in the house she realy confident if you can suggest what i can do to help id be really grateful i dont want her growing up scared
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Ed Wilfong replied 7 years ago.

Cami and Shaq (image is png format)

Phobia are a self fulfilling prophecy. She see this behavior by the dog and is terrified, Next time she sees a dog, she avoids it and says to herself "whew, that once close, but I didn't get hurt". And ever time she avoids the thing she fears, it makes her fear and avoidance stronger. It sounds as if she is generalizing this strategy of avoidance to anything she fears. And generalizing her fears.
I would recommend a counselor trained in systematic desensitization (most psychologists are) to consult with you on the basics and develop a plan, but I can give you an idea or two.
The basic idea is to expose her to safe aspects of her fear and let her become comfortable with them.
Since she comfortable with you and partner at home, you have ideal place and people to do this.
Start easy. Find pictures of cute dogs and show her and talk about it. Just casually. Be calm and help her be calm. Don't push. You want her to be relaxed. You could also read her cute, nice stories about dogs. Make it fun. same with movies. Find very cute movies about dogs, non violence. Cartoons are fine, but sometimes they can be more violent. Have a fun movie night.
Your goal is to have her be comfortable around things that are more and more similar to her feared object (dog).
Then maybe a stuffed animal or two to play with.
Eventually, perhaps you can go see some nice dogs behind a fence.
Then have a dog that you 110% trust come to your yard. She doesn't have to play, just try to keep her calm.
This keep doing this until she is ready to pet a nice dog.
Having a professional you can consult with may help you trouble shoot any glitches.

I am making the assumption she is between 4-8. If not, adapt to more "age appropriate" activities. Be patient and don't push. And don't make a big deal out of it. Be subtle.

I was almost bit as a young kid. I was afraid of dogs because this until adulthood and somehow we ended up with a nice dog and I was fine. I also know the fear and avoidance she is going through.

Good luck. If you need help in the future, feel free to ask for me.

I have attached a picture of my dog and a friend from France. At the beginning of the day, she was scared to death of him. The dog is Shaquille, Cami is the girl.

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