The Fear of Dogs: How To Overcome Cynophobia

November 9, 2019
Everybody knows the phrase: Dogs are a man's best friend. However, not all humans agree. Today we'll look at how to overcome cynophobia, the fear of dogs.

There are many people who are extremely afraid of different animals. People with cynophobia suffer immensely in the presence of dogs. This fear isn’t normal, and can even produce serious complications. In some cases, people with this condition experience panic attacks and severe anxiety. Below, we’ll talk about how to overcome cynophobia.

What is cynophobia?

Many people confuse a simple fear of dogs with cynophobia. However, this illness has its own particular characteristics. There are a series of symptoms that indicate whether a person truly suffers from this condition.

The following list reflects some of the most common symptoms of cynophobia:

  • Fear is intense and disproportionate.
  • The person avoids everyday situations where he or she may cross paths with a dog.
  • There’s no logical explanation for the fear, but rather it is irrational.
  • The terror becomes almost unbearable.
  • The person is unable to control this fear without treatment.
  • People with cynophobia experience extreme suffering when a dog is near.
  • Physical symptoms appear, including nausea, sweating, and rapid heart rate.
  • Dizziness and muscle weakness may also occur.
  • The person experiences an intense desire to escape.
  • Panic attacks or anxiety attacks when in the presence of a dog.

These are the clearest signs of cynophobia. In general, people that suffer from this problem know how to identify it. Cynophobia doesn’t affect only adults, but many children as well. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat this issue, as well as many professionals that specialize in this area.

How to overcome cynophobia: treatment

Treatment is the only way to overcome cynophobia. There are millions of people who suffer from cynophobia, which may explain why there are so many different therapies available. The great news is that almost all of these options tend to have positive results in most cases. According to a person’s profile, a therapist will recommend the most appropriate type of treatment.

How to overcome cynophobia.
Author: Wagner Cezar
  1. Gradual exposure therapy

Gradual exposure therapy is a treatment option that has given very positive results. It consists of bringing patients close to a dog, either in real life or through the use of images. This treatment intends to gradually reduce a person’s level of anxiety. Furthermore, as patients encounter animals in a safe context, the brain starts to understand that the danger isn’t real. In general, after a series of sessions, the pathology disappears.

  1. Relaxation techniques

This is another effective treatment for those who want to overcome cynophobia. It involves techniques like yoga and meditation. Through these moments of relaxation, patients are able to calm their anxiety regarding dogs. In general, therapists apply this technique before applying the gradual exposure technique. That way, patients have an easier time adjusting to the animal’s presence.

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy

The purpose of this therapy is to try to change a person’s behavioral patterns. Cynophobia produces an altered perception of reality and danger. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps make people more aware and to perceive emotions in a more real way. In the end, patients realize that their fear is irrational.

  1. Exposure via virtual reality

Technology has made giant leaps in every area, including the treatment of phobias. Exposure through virtual reality seeks to project an idea as if it were original. The patient puts on a pair of special glasses or a helmet that will allow him or her to perceive different images. The images or scenarios that the patient sees will seem completely real. In other words, patients feel as if there were a dog right there in front of them.

  1. Pharmacological treatment

There are also different medications that can help patients overcome cynophobia. In general, these are drugs that possess calming properties to help to reduce anxiety levels. These types of treatment help patients who experience a phobia of dogs, or any other kind of phobia. In any case, this course of treatment should be a last resort. Before resorting to pharmaceuticals, therapists will seek to treat the fear psychologically.

A woman petting a dog in the park.

Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome cynophobia. In general, a therapist will be the one to recommend the best course of treatment. In doing so, he or she will take into account the intensity of the problem and the person’s profile. While cynophobia is not a serious illness, it can seriously affect a person’s quality of life.

But people who suffer cynophobia shouldn’t give up hope. Rather, they should acknowledge the problem and seek the assistance of a specialized professional. In general, in just a few months, this intense fear of dogs can disappear altogether. What’s more, patients may even come to truly enjoy being around dogs.

Source of main image: savageblackout