Every morning, hundreds of dog walkers walk their pets, and cynophobes watch this picture with horror and wait for everyone to go home so that they can go outside. The article details how a healthy fear of dogs differs from cynophobia, as well as how to get rid of it.
Causes of fear of dogs
The dog is perceived by most people as a friend, but some consider it a real enemy. At the mere sight of a quadruped, they panic. As a rule, cynophobia does not occur spontaneously, its formation is preceded by various events, mainly associated with dog bites and attacks.
Sometimes this fear arises in children due to the negative attitudes of their parents, who interpret the appearance of any dog as a danger to the child. For example, quite often on the playground you can hear: “Do not approach the dog, or it will bite”, “Do not touch it, it is contagious”, “Move away from the dog, or suddenly it is rabid.” After that, the child’s brain begins to automatically perceive a person’s friend as a danger, an enemy. Then the child will try to avoid contact with any dogs, thereby reinforcing his fear.
How do you know if you or your child has cynophobia?
People who have a fear of dogs may feel panic when they encounter an animal. There is sweating, trembling, tension, heart palpitations, a torpor reaction is possible.
For the sake of justice, I would like to note that there is no such person who is not afraid of dogs at all, but this fear is absolutely healthy. For example, if you are walking down the street, and a huge dog is thrown at you from around the corner, it is unlikely that you will be able to remain calm. The reaction of the body will be unequivocal – the release of the hormone of fear, that is, adrenaline, in order to preserve life. As you know, the release of adrenaline can give a person inexplicable opportunities, for example, the ability to escape from a dog, bull or other animal.
Also, natural fear appears in a situation where a pack of stray dogs runs in your direction. Perhaps they are just running about their dog business, but, nevertheless, the emergence of fear in this case is understandable and rational.
Healthy fear differs from cynophobia in that a person who has experienced any dangerous situation involving dogs will be frightened and forget about it, and the next time, having met any dog on his way, he will simply pass by. A cynophobe will bypass all dogs in the district, experience a strong and inexplicable fear of them up to panic and physical ailments.
In the case of cynophobia, a person is afraid of all dogs, and not a single individual who, for example, once bit him. He may be afraid of absolutely all stray dogs, or only large ones, or have a fear of a particular breed. In other words, such a person generalizes all dogs to the word “danger.”
If your child, at the sight of a dog, says that he is afraid of it, be sure to ask: “Why?” A logical answer, for example, that this particular dog or a similar one rushed, bitten, speaks of a normal natural fear. If the child answers: “What if she bites me”, “What if I get rabies from it and die”, and other fantasy options, then in this case it is recommended to contact a child psychologist.
How to get rid of cynophobia?
To begin with, you need to learn how to control your thoughts. Let’s say you’ve been bitten by a dog and now you’re terrified of everyone. Try to find a picture of a dog that looks as much as possible like the offender, and look at the picture, explain to yourself that this dog is possibly dangerous, but this does not mean that others are also dangerous. Make friends with the source of your fear. Remember the moment of the bite, close your eyes and scroll through this episode several times. It is important to maintain even breathing. After that, add positive moments to the negative episode. For example, imagine how the dog that bit you also runs in your direction, but as a result does not bite, but on the contrary, happily jumps, licks.
After you learn how to “work” with pictures and stop experiencing fear of the image of dogs, you need to start communicating with puppies. It is worth noting that at the time of such contact there should be no aggression on your part. Extremely positive emotions! If at the time of communication with puppies there is fear, then do not leave the animals, continue to stroke them, play with them.
When puppies are no longer a source of danger for you, go to the canine service or to guide training centers. There you can watch how large and terrible – in your opinion – dogs make real helpers for employees, military, people with disabilities. Ask instructors for direct contact with one of the dogs. And again, if you feel scared at this point, it’s important to stay put and not stop making contact.
And of course, one of the best and most radical ways to consolidate the skills of getting rid of cynophobia is to get a dog. Thus, you will be in contact with your fear, and after a while the enemy dog will turn into a real friend and family member!