After a year of panic attacks, it was time to take some action to help my son get over his fear of letting our dog off her lead… so, after trying to solve the situation in a number of different ways with no success, we looked at Hypnotherapy!
For the last 14 months, my son George has found it impossible to cope when it comes to taking the dog out for a walk. He could just about manage to walk her on the lead, but any time it came to taking her off the lead, he would suffer with severe panic attacks. This trigger of panic all stemmed from an incident that happened when our dog was just a few months old.
One particular afternoon, our little puppy decided to follow some lads to the other side of the park and into the car park. With the four of us all panicking, she bolted and ran across the road that our house sits on. Thankfully a neighbour managed to secure her i in their garden and she was fine.
A few weeks later, we were out with her again and I’d persuaded George that everything was going to be ok. He was very nervous about this and I’m sure the dog picked up on this. As she ran across to greet another dog (which they do constantly when they’re puppies) George started to panic… and scream. Our pup was having none of this and decided to run home – she literally took herself to our front door. Sadly though, from that point on, George couldn’t cope with taking her out anymore.
We tried so many was to encourage George to let her off. We’ve tried the softly softly approach to help gain his trust in her, tough love, persuasion and even bribery. We went to an enclosed park space especially for dogs, but he wouldn’t entertain even getting out of the car! As time went on, his anxiety only increased. It got to a point where he would have a full on panic attack at the thought of taking her out.
I was at the end of my tether, and short of writing into ‘This Morning’ and asking that Speakman couple for help, I decided to look at getting George hypnotised.
Thankfully, I knew just the person to help… I messaged my wonderful Reiki practitioner Michelle from Fairy Heart Therapies and got George booked in.
I can’t lie, having George be so afraid of taking the dog out has been quite a strain on the family. We bought a campervan this year to replace our car and we envisaged having these wonderful adventures over the summer… running through forests and walking along beaches (all very idealistic and Instagram ready!). But that just didn’t happen. We managed a few canal walks but that was about it.
George himself was really keen to get over his fear. He so badly wanted to feel ok about taking our dog out and watching her run, but the memory of her running away as a four month old puppy would trigger the panic. He was even a little excited to see Michelle and try some hypnotherapy!
‘The Cabin’ at Fairy Heart Therapies is a sanctuary of calm and warmth and George was very keen to get in and see Michelle. When I say keen, I mean giggly, overexcited and not exactly in the right frame of mind to have hypnotherapy performed on him! Michelle chatted for a little while about why he had come to see her and about his feelings and fears.
Michelle explained to George about why his brain kept reminding him about the scary situation with the dog and how she will be able to talk to this part of the brain and tell it to switch that feeling off. She told him that she will explain to his subconscious part of his brain that Dusty (that’s the dog!) is ok and that he will not feel panic when she is taken off the lead.
Once George felt more relaxed, sat in the comfy chair, Michelle started to introduce an exercise that would help him focus on becoming sleepy… counting from 10 backwards and with each number his eyelids would get heavier and heavier. George smirked and fidgeted and I was already starting to think he was just playing along. Then Michelle moved onto another exercise, explaining that he was standing at the top of a flight of stairs and his eyes becoming heavier with each step.
He looked peaceful, but I still couldn’t tell if he was ‘under’ or not! It all started to look promising… until he did a little smirk at the end and I wondered if anything had really happened. My heart sank. Rightly or wrongly, I was pinning all my hopes on this working.
We then talked through some exercises we could do to help George with the panicky feeling. Giving the feeling a colour and using our bodies to push the feeling away whilst repeating the mantra “keeping calm”.
Next day, on the way home from school, I decided to walk with George and the dog around the park on the way home. Just one minute at a time was the recommendation, so that’s what we did. George did his deep breaths, pushing the anxious feeling up into his shoulders and down his arms and kept saying “keeping calm”. We managed a minute before Dusty was back on the lead. It was clear to see he was still struggling.
Any attempts over the coming days to go over the park was met with excuses. A week later I approached the subject of taking the dog out… guess what happened… he had complete meltdown!
We were back to square one!
To be continued…
Love and Hugs,