My Son Doesn’t Love Dogs. And That’s OK.

I walk my son to kindergarten most mornings. One day after I dropped him off, a mom and her dog walked over to me and said, “Your son is afraid of dogs, isn’t he?”

“Yes.”

“I noticed that. So whenever I see you guys, I pull my dog a little bit tighter. I understand because I had a kiddo who was afraid of dogs.”

That meant the world to me because most people don’t react that way.

And hot take, you guys: It’s OK to not like dogs. It’s OK to be afraid of dogs. And bless that mom for respecting our boundaries.

“Don’t be scared!”

So many times when we’re out in public, a dog will come our way and my son will start to freak out. Their owners will just blow it off.

“Don’t be scared.”

“She’s really nice, she loves kids.”

“Do you want to pet her?”

Please stop. 

A phobia, by definition, is not rational. A phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.”

Don’t try to cure his dog aversion with your dog. It won’t work. Just respect our boundaries and keep your dog away from my child. 

No dogs allowed 

My daughter has always loved dogs. My son, not so much.

For a while, we had a handwritten sign from my son on our fridge that said, “No dogs allowed.” He wanted to make it. He is afraid of dogs right now, probably because we don’t have one, and I’m not prepared to take care of yet another living thing. I’ve got my hands full. I realize that getting a dog would likely help him get over his phobia, but to be honest, I won’t say that I love dogs, either.

When KCMC contributor Jamie Young wrote about being “pet-less and fancy free,” I could totally relate.

Little did I know … that most of the judgment I would face as a parent would come down to one major issue…raising my kids in a pet-free home,” she wrote. 

I reposted it on Facebook, and I was surprised by how many of my friends could also relate because sometimes it feels as if I’m the only non-dog person in KC.

I didn’t grow up with dogs, and I was afraid of them when I was older than my kiddo. He’s only 6. 

I know one day he’ll grow out of it. He doesn’t want to be afraid of dogs, and we are working on him getting over his fear. I told him when he grows up, he’ll probably have at least one dog, maybe two. He’s grown out of a lot of other childhood phobias that kids have already — hand dryers, the dark, vegetables … well, maybe we’re still working on that one, but my point is, he will get there in his own time.

Think before you speak 

I know some kids love dogs — including my 3-year-old daughter. I know that dogs are a part of the family for some people. I get that. I know that your dog is probably the sweetest thing. I know that losing a dog is traumatic — my husband doesn’t want a dog to this day because of how sad he was when his family dog died.

But, but, but. It hurts my feelings when people judge my son for not liking dogs or not wanting to be around them. So the next time you see a child shrink away from your dog, think about what you do and what you say. Don’t shame them, and don’t lecture the parents about getting them a dog. I can assure you that they have heard it before.

Just be understanding, and be nice.

My son is still just a kid. He’s amazingly kind, and he loves “Star Wars” and Legos, and his little sister. Just not dogs. And that is OK.

Pamela Spencer de la Fuente
Pamela de la Fuente is a proud native of Flint, Michigan. She moved to Kansas City in 2003 to work at The Kansas City Star. Since then, she’s bought two houses, gotten married, worked at some other KC companies, and had a couple of kids. She is a La Leche League leader (Ask her about breastfeeding!), a mom of two toddlers, and a professional writer and editor. Pamela loves big and small adventures with her family, sampling craft beer with her husband, David, and eating ice cream all year round.

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