How to Deal with a Fear of Dogs

How to Deal with a Fear of Dogs

Dogs are a man’s best friend. Not everyone would agree though.

Some people have a fear of dogs. Perhaps you are one of them.

Fear of dogs, known as cynophobia, is one of the most common animal phobias. In short, a phobia is an irrational and persistent fear of something, be it an object, an activity or a situation.

Fear of dogs may vary in severity. For some people, they will have to actually be in the presence of a dog for fear to take hold. For others, they merely need to think about dogs or see them on television.

However bad your fear of dogs is, there are steps you can take to overcome it.

First, you must identify the source of your fear of dogs. How did it start? Did you have a bad experience with one when you were younger? Did you witness something unpleasant that involved a dog, such as seeing one attack someone else? Perhaps it has come about because you have heard others constantly talk negatively about dogs.

Second, consider what your symptoms are and their severity. Many people with cynophobia feel a sense of imminent danger, a need to escape or run away, their heart may race or they may begin to sweat or shake and other symptoms. Consider also what the dog needs to do in order to bring this fear about. Can a photo or story trigger it? Do you need to be close to one before your fear starts? Do you make changes to your lifestyle to avoid coming into contact with dogs?

The more you understand about your fear, the better placed you are to do something about it.

One common treatment for cynophobia is cognitive behavioural therapy. Common techniques such as systematic desensitisation and flooding are geared towards removing your fear and encourage you to develop coping skills. Techniques such as these are known as exposure therapy, whereby you are exposed to your fear under carefully controlled circumstances. This is done gradually, so you may begin merely by discussing dogs, then you may view some pictures of dogs, then you may see one from a distance and finally you may see one up close, touch it and interact with it.

You may also be given active-imaginal exposure where, instead of live dogs, you are encouraged to interact with and respond to a dog in your imagination. You will act out such behaviours as approaching and petting the dog.

Depending on the severity of your cynophobia, certain medications may be helpful in reducing your anxiety levels. They will be used in conjunction with your therapy, allowing you to carry out the tasks with greater ease.

Cynophobia is an unpleasant condition. No matter the severity however, it is extremely treatable. You don’t have to suffer with your symptoms alone and there are treatments available to help you overcome your fear of dogs and feel differently around them.

Our dog training courses can certainly help with fears and phobias of dogs! See course A to Z list at the top of the home page!


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