If you have a fear of dogs, or cynophobia as this is also known as, you are not alone. Many people experience great anxiety when they come in contact with dogs, or even see photographs of them. It is thought that people who have cynophobia, have either had a bad experience with a dog in the past, or witnessed one, and this is the cause of their abnormal fear reaction when they encounter, what some other people refer to, as mans best friend.
There are several different ways you can overcome a fear of dogs. You may choose to find a professional to help you, or to overcome your fear by yourself, using one of the methods below.
# Systematic Desensitisation
Systematic desensitisation relies on the fact that most people can reduce their fears by gradually becoming accustomed to the object of their anxiety. Thus, to help yourself get over being afraid of dogs, you would slowly ease yourself into situations where you are likely to experience the presence of dogs.
In the very beginning, you may take small steps toward getting closer to dogs, via looking at photographs of dogs, reading books about dogs, and then watching films with dogs in them.
Eventually you may begin taking walks in a park where people take their dogs, visiting pet shops where items for dogs are on display, and arranging to come in to contact with a friends dog.
When you feel ready to actually meet a dog in person, have the owner keep their dog on a lead, and approach the dog yourself, rather than have the dog approach you. You may find that just being in the same room as a dog, is enough to begin with, without getting to the stage where you actually pet the dog for a while.
The idea with systematic desensitisation is that you become accustomed to dogs, and discover that being around them isn’t so bad after all. Take small steps, at your own pace, and don’t take setbacks as a failure. Instead, take a few steps back and begin again, and move on as, and when you are ready to do so.
# Hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic programming
With this method of help for your phobia, expect to learn how to re-frame any past, traumatic experience you have had with dogs, and replace your negative feelings and responses with positive ones. You can do this with the help of a calm friend, and a few good hypnotherapy books with NLP re-framing instructions, or you can make an appointment with a practitioner.
Exposure is a more severe, and possibly instant method of relieving yourself of the fear of dogs. It involves throwing yourself in at the deep end, and surrounding yourself with dogs, or coming into close contact with one, straight away. For some people with cynophobia, exposure works very well. For others, the method is far too extreme, and can bring about a panic attack.
Choosing how to overcome a fear of dogs is best done by taking your preferences into account. Everyone is different when it comes to finding the best method to work with their phobia.