Unless you stay cloistered in your home, the opportunity to cross a dog will always present itself in your daily outings—our advice to overcome the pathological fear of dogs.
What Is Cynophobia?
The phobia is an irrational and disproportionate fear of an object, a situation, an animal. Cynophobia (from the Greek cyno = dog) is the uncontrolled fear of dogs regardless of their size or breed. Cynophobia can have its origin in a trauma that has occurred in the past (you have been bitten, you have seen a person being bitten, you have seen a fight between dogs, etc.). Those around you have taught you to beware of dogs, thus conveying their fears. The fact of having grown up without a dog and the ignorance of its universe can also cause cynophobia.
Cynophobia: The Behavioural Consequences
Excessive fear of dogs becomes disabling in everyday life as soon as it generates avoidance behaviours: for example, you no longer take a street where a dog is even if it is behind a fence, you refuse to associate people with a dog or go over with friends who have one. At the same time, cynophobia often causes bothersome symptoms such as the impression of impending aggression, the urge to run away, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, tremors., shortness of breath, dizziness or chills.
Cynophobia: Actions To Be Taken And Reactions To Be Avoided
- Avoid staring the dog in the eye. Keep in mind that the dog is a pack animal, staring at him can be interpreted as a hierarchical confrontation and cause a reaction on his part;
- Do not back away in the presence of a dog. If the first attitude of a cynophobic person is to back away, this hesitant behaviour can encourage the dog to follow it and possibly seek to come into contact with it, often by play or by threat, thus increasing the feeling of fear;
- Don’t scream, don’t run. A spontaneous reaction of the cynophobic person is to gesticulate, shout or run to escape the animal. However, this behaviour has great risks of attracting the dog’s attention and encouraging him to rush after it. Here again, the disordered gestures and movements send the animal a message of play or domination, which will go against the desired effect.
- Ignore the dog. Ideally, and despite your fear, when you meet a dog, be completely indifferent: stay calm and continue walking as if nothing had happened. It is not always easy to overcome emotions, but you should know that most of the time, if you ignore him, he will ignore you too. In the worst case, it will come and sniff you and leave just as dry.
How To Get Acquainted With Dogs?
One way to stop fearing dogs is to get to know them so that you can approach them later. This process is carried out in several stages:
- Take interest in the canine world through books or documentaries;
- Watch them live and play through an acquaintance who owns a dog. Explain the process to your friend so that he can support you;
- When you feel ready to approach a dog, prefer a calm adult, always through a loved one. Puppies are cute, but they lack training and may be unpredictable in their reaction;
Regularly train with a reliable owner and a gentle animal. Stick to your approach sessions until you feel able to come into contact with a more restless dog that you will inevitably come across sooner or later.
Are There Any Treatments For Cynophobia?
With a regular schedule, you will eventually overcome your fear. Know that if your phobia is deeply rooted in you, the help of a professional may be required.
- A behaviourist educator will offer you exercises in the company of an educated and calm dog who will know how to remain calm in all circumstances;
- A therapist will practice with you a CBT (Cognito-Behavioral Therapy) by gradually exposing you to the presence of a dog;
- Sessions of relaxation, sophrology, hypnosis or Virtual Reality Therapy aim to reduce stress and to live better every day the canine proximity;
- Of course, individuals or groups are also dedicated to desensitization of the pathological fear of dogs.
Whether alone or accompanied by a professional, solutions exist to treat cynophobia. The exercises generally consist of improving knowledge of the canine world and communication with dogs to understand fearful situations better and to be reconciled with man’s best friend finally!