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Be Dog Confident

Helping children build their confidence around dogs

With over 36% of Irish households owning a dog, there are a lot of  pooches around the country! The chances are high you will come into contact with them at the park, along the street or even at a friend's or family member's house.

At Dogs Trust, we understand that not everyone is comfortable being around dogs and we know some people may also be scared of them. This can impact a child's life, from not wanting to play in the park or visit friends, to being worried about walking down the street in case they see a dog. We want to help children build their confidence around dogs so that they feel less anxiety when they encounter a dog, which will be beneficial for both the child and the dog!We also hope this will help families with dogs who have visiting children.

Therefore, as an extension of our successful Be Dog Smart campaign we have developed a Be Dog Confident campaign, with workshops and resources for children and their families on how to safely manage these anxieties and build their confidence. 

If you are a primary school or an adult interested in our Be Dog Confident workshops, you can find out more or book a workshop via your local Education and Community Officer by following the link below



We also have our Building Confidence Around Dogs leaflet available to download from the link below.

Top tips for parents:

If your child needs to build their confidence around dogs remember our safety tips and stay


Create a positive dog experience with your child by exposing them to books and films with dog characters

Acknowledge your child’s discomfort of dogs. Anxiety is a normal feeling and by acknowledging our anxiety we can learn to overcome it and build confidence.   

Let your child meet appropriate dogs in a safe and controlled environment. If they are still not feeling confident teach them how to do slow breathing – breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 5.

Make believe with toy dogs and talk through behaviours that dogs might exhibit. Explain what these might mean and that dogs have thoughts and feelings just like we do


Although these tips can help children to build their confidence around dogs, some children may need extra help to overcome stronger anxieties they might have in the presence of dogs.

Dogs Trust has been working alongside psychologist Dr Claire Hayes to develop a programme and guide to support building confidence with dogs and managing anxiety around dogs in children.