Overcoming A Fear Of Dogs

Do you suffer from cynophobia? Although it sounds like a mouthful, cynophobia is simply a clinical term for the fear of dogs. This problem is not uncommon and can be a source of significant discomfort for those who suffer from it - especially since the love of dogs is so firmly ingrained in our society.

Dog with intense stare

Often a fear of dogs develops after a person experiences a negative experience with a dog such as a dog bite or attack by an aggressive dog. This type of fear can also relate back to negative childhood experiences with dogs. If you happen to be one of the unfortunate people who is scared of dogs, you may be able to overcome the problem without seeking professional help. Here are some ways to overcome the fear of dogs:

Expose yourself to dog images in a safe environment

The best way to reduce your fear of dogs is to gradually expose yourself to images of them. Start by watching television shows that feature gentle, well trained dogs such as Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, or Old Yeller. Who can’t be moved in a positive way by the sweet disposition of these dogs? Watching the heroic actions of these dogs in a safe environment can help to lessen your anxiety and fear of dogs over time.

Learn more about dogs

Read some of the articles on this site, look at our gallery images and breed profiles, even visit your local library and check out some books on the personality and intelligence of dogs. Read through them and learn more about the behaviour and habits of dogs. By understanding the basic personality of a dog, you’ll feel more knowledgeable and less afraid when you encounter them.

Expose yourself to dogs on a leash

The next step towards overcoming your fear of dogs is to deliberately come into closer contact with dogs on a leash. When you go walking, instead of crossing the street when you see a dog on a leash, take some deep breaths and walk slowly towards him. Realize that a dog on a leash is unlikely to cause you any harm. When you can successfully do this, it will build your confidence level and allow you to progress more rapidly towards your goal of being less scared of dogs.

Expose yourself to small dogs

Once you’ve conquered dogs on a leash, the next step is to expose yourself to friendly, small dogs. If you have friends who have lap dogs, call them up and ask if you can visit with their canine companions. A small, ten pound dog is less intimidating than a larger dog and will allow you to boost your confidence level. If possible interact on neutral ground rather than in the dog’s home where he may feel more territorial. If it makes you feel more comfortable initially, have your friend keep her dog on a leash until you’re ready to play with the dog off leash.

Continue progressively exposing yourself to dogs

The key to becoming less scared of dogs is to progressively expose yourself to a variety of dogs until you’re comfortable with them both on leash and off leash. Learn to breathe deeply and relax during your encounters and reward yourself each time you successfully face your fear. Your final step towards curing your fear of dogs will be to visit a local dog park. Imagine how proud you’ll feel when you can walk into a dog park without fear. You’ll have accomplished your goal.