This is a post asking for help and advice please.
Little Man has been developing a fear of dogs for a while now. We are unsure what has sparked it, but it is steadily getting worse to the extent that today we were out in the woods on the bikes and stopped for breather and drink. Now being in the woods we kept meeting people out walking dogs, and both t'husband and me had noted as soon as we saw one in the distance Little Man was shooting off on his bike and taking a very long winded route round through the trees to avoid the said dog.
Just before we stopped for a drink, we had been going along a path and a dog had walked by Little Man's bike and he had stopped dead through what we now know was fear. He was rooted to the spot and it was pure fear, he was crying and squealing and took a while to calm down. The poor woman with the dog didn't quite know what to do and was desperately trying to get the poor dog on a lead, and apologising. All the while Mini Man who is shaping up to be bloody Dr Doolittle, was all over this dog.
As a way to calm him down we got over the a grassy bit, and sat down with a biscuit and drink. He was just settling when 2 very old, very slow cocker spaniels ambled up to see what we were doing. They were lovely but Little Man went mental. Afterwards t'husband admitted he thought Little Man had been so scared he had wet himself (he hadn't). The more upset poor Little Man got, the more the dog tried to stick his nose near him.
Thing is he is now saying he doesn't want to go out as he doesn't want to see any dogs.
Its not just dogs though, he is the same with cats. If there is a cat in a driveway he will cross the road and walk glancing over his shoulder until we round a corner.
We simply don;t know what to do? What can we do to help him? We are a very active family and do a lot of cycling and walking and try not to drive places that we can walk to but dogs and cats are an inevitable part of each journey/activity.
We have tried talking and going through pictures before setting off and some days he is just wary and seems to cope a little better, but other days it has no affect.
When he was about 3 a dog did nip him, he was bothering the dog and was removed about 5 times, and told off, and I explained the dog would get cross. Little man didn't listen though and it ended in the dog growling and nipping his hand - it didn't even mark. Now he seemed fine about the nip and has been around loads of dogs since and never shown any fear. We have talked to him about this minute nip he got and he says he remember it and he knows it was because he was pulling the dog's ears and poking its face, and like I say suddenly at the age of 7 he has gone from being fine around dogs to being petrified. My brother nearly lost half his face as a 3 year old and he doesn't especially like dogs but ever since that day has always shown a dislike to them, and just been wary but it's nothing like this.
His fear is like something I have not encountered before, he is pure and simply petrified.
I feel so helpless and useless, I don't know what I can do to help?
My mind keeps running away and saying should I contact the doctor, CAMHS, a hypnotist?