As dog owners I believe we all have a responsibility to help members of the public that are afraid of dogs, not by pushing our dogs at them, but by demonstrating the dog is under control and therefor no threat!
Never dismiss anyone’s fear of dogs, it is real and respect of another’s feelings is the first step to helping them get passed their fear.
I was out with one of my dogs one day near the beach, I stood by the car changing my boots, my dog Teddy, was running round nearby, when someone walked into the car park, Teddy was near the entrance and though not taking any notice of the person was obviously to close for comfort for this person, I saw the scared look and the person freeze, my first instinct was to call out “it’s okay he won’t hurt you” but immediately realised that was irrelevant for this person and instead shouted “down” to Teddy, who hit the deck immediately and I called him to me, once I had him with me I apologised for the scare they had had, and put Teddy on the lead to further reassure them that they were safe.
I knew they were safe with Teddy on or off the lead, but this person did not, I could see the surprise on the persons face and the relaxed look that soon replaced the scared look. Teddy and I did more in that moment he obeyed me than any verbal reassurance from me could ever have done!