LP is scared silly of most animals. She loves the concept of them, she likes to see them, but heaven forbid they get too close, even when they are behind a fence, she FREAKS out and starts insisting on being picked up.
AK, on the other hand, loves animals. She will touch a goat on the nose, poke a dog in the face, and giggle hysterically at the sight of a friendly dog.
The other day at the playground a woman walked by with two small fluffy dogs on leashes. After another friend confirmed that it was okay to touch them, AK wriggled out of my arms, grasped my hand and walked forward, fingers outstretched.
LP was giggling a bit maniacally and stood away with her hands over her ears. Mind you, neither dog had barked at that point, or even jumped (amazing considering they were surrounded by a half dozen kids). In fact, they didn't bark the entire time. But LP still let out an amazing sigh of relief when the woman continued on with her pets. AK ran after them, shouting and waving her arms. She might have escaped the playground if parents and other kids hadn't gotten in her way.
The Hoos and I have no idea why LP is so scared of animals. Neither of us expresses fear of them in her presence, and, despite my disdain for pet stores (especially the smell) I willingly bring the girls to them so they can look at the reptiles, hamsters, and fish. I think most of the issue is that she feels a lack of control. You have no way of knowing or controlling what an animal is going to do next (kind of like children).
Other than having a dog, what have you done to help your kids overcome their fear of animals?