As far as Zoophobia (fear of animals) is concerned, the fear of dogs or Cynophobia is not as common as the fear of snakes or spiders. However, it is important to note that people who fear dogs are also highly likely to encounter them in their day to day lives. This makes the phobic avoid all kinds of situations involving dogs. As a result, his/her social, familial or occupational activities can be negatively impacted.
Causes of fear of dogs
The fear of dogs is known to be quite common owing to the historic association between dogs and wolves. As a result, most Cynophobics generally fear large and vicious looking dogs, though, in extreme cases, one might even fear small or aggressive puppies.
In reality, dogs are considered loyal and faithful companions that are capable of forming close ties with humans. However, to a phobic, owing to a prior bad experience with dogs, all canines appear dangerous or evil.
Parents might unknowingly instill a fear of dogs in their child by warning them against petting or approaching dogs. Thus, the negative experience one has had with a dog in the past might not necessarily be a direct one: having watched a sibling or a close friend getting attacked or barked at by a dog can also sometimes result in an excessive fear of dogs.
Cynophobic individuals are often afraid of the bark or the growling sound made by dogs rather than just their bites.
Symptoms of Cynophobia
As with most other phobias, Cynophobia can cause the sufferers to feel terribly anxious and frightened. This can lead to different physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Dizziness and feeling faint, disoriented
- Excess sweating
- Shaking and trembling
- Nausea and gastrointestinal distress
- Dry mouth, feeling of choking or difficulty in swallowing
- Running away
- Having thoughts of dying
- Feeling like losing control or going crazy
- Inability to distinguish between reality and unreality
- Trying to avoid situations which bring confrontation with a dog
These symptoms might be present days before an actual confrontation with a dog and the individual might go to great lengths to avoid it.
Diagnosis and treatment of Cynophobia
Many people are afraid of dogs; hence diagnosis of Cynophobia includes determining if the fear is persistent or triggers an immediate anxiety response. To be categorized as Cynophobia, one’s fear of dogs would also be required to interfere with social, familial or occupational activities.
Therapy and self help techniques can be used for treating Cynophobia.
- The most popular and effective technique for treating phobias is the systematic desensitization technique developed by Joseph Wolpe in 1958. It involves having the patient imagine being in the same room with a dog while employing specific breathing and relaxation techniques to reduce one’s anxiety.
- In-vivo or exposure therapy can also help one get rid of one’s fear of dogs. This therapy involves a prolonged exposure to a dog until the patient can have a normal response to the animal.
- Exposure therapy can also be utilized in the form of self-help technique wherein the patient gradually exposes himself to canines, looks at photos, and progresses gradually to petting a dog etc. This type of gradual exposure can help one realize that his/her fears are unfounded.
We hope this brief guide will help you understand your fear of dogs in order to deal with it better and overcome the anxiety experienced.
I’m afraid of dogs. Whenever I’m near one I start running and screaming, but when I’m in a closed place I feel dizzy, I can’t breathe and I start screaming for help. I just stay in a corner with my hands on my face crying.
I have cynophobia.
I’ve never met or spoken to anyone who is afraid of dogs, as I am. I’ve had my phobia for 60+ years. Michele
I used to have this phobia, but thanks to my older half sister who has a dog, I got over it via exposure therapy.
athea marcos amir says
Whenever I read this, I think to myself, “Cynophobia doesn’t begin to describe what I have!” First, anyone who would consent to be in a room with a dog and/or touch it, has a much, much milder form of the phobia. I think I’d rather die than touch a dog. To me they are the most disgusting things on the planet.
You should try to overcome your fear and maybe you could become a dog lover too.
I hate it that some dog owners don’t seem to understand that not everyone likes dogs. And they all say “mine doesn’t bite”.
athea marcos amir says
Have you ever noticed that when a killer murders someone or a dog bites someone, the response is always the same: “Oh, he was the loveliest man/dog you can imagine. I just can’t believe he did it.”
I’m really afraid of dogs and I’m scared of getting a dog. My cousin has Ailurophobia and I have Cynophobia.
I’m scared of big dogs after being bitten by one when I tried petting it. The owner of the dog apologized to me.
Alejandra Leos says
It’s even worse when your family is from Mexico and there is a lot of stray dogs there so you’re the reason your family stays inside all day when rarely visiting our home country.
It’s not only Mexico that has a lot of stray dogs. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran also have a ton of stray dogs.
I have this phobia, it’s hard going outside and not seeing them. Dogs are cute but I really get terrified when it’s in person with me.
there are 2 main reasons i’m afraid of dogs. one is, my mum is afraid of dogs when I was little she always told me to avoid them (especially big ones that look beastly.) another factor is when I was a little kid, one time I was walking in the woods with my dad and a small yappy energetic looking dog was walking (it was not on a leash). because my mum had told me to avoid dogs I started to jog to get away from it. the dog chased me and I ran faster a couple seconds later the dog pushed me over and I got wood chips and dirt all over me and in my mouth. since then I’ve always been on edge around dogs. when I pass one I start to freak out imagining the dog barking or chasing me. no one else that I know has this, so i’m glad to know others are afraid of dogs too.
Well, you don’t run when you see a dog, or they will chase you because that is showing fear. So the first thing not to do is run.
I bought a Pomeranian puppy to overcome my fear but things turned worse i can’t touch the puppy can’t handle it being next to me or in the same room. I always ask my husband to hold it if i want to pass or move. I tried to play with it and overcome my fear but i failed. Ran away and screamed like crazy. I really love it and want to play with her it’s killing me deep inside that i cannot face my fear. Please help me.
For me it went the other way. Literally in hours of having my first dog, I fell in love and wasn’t scared anymore.
You should add unicynophobia, which is the fear of one particular dog. Usually such phobia is developed through direct negative encounter with the said dog.
I’ve had this phobia for as long as I can remember but nothing worked. I just accepted it and I wish dog owners were more accommodating and understanding. Most people in my extended family own dogs and they’ve never been very understanding so I just don’t visit them anymore. The shame they make me feel on top of the overbearing terror is just not worth it.
If I encounter a person walking a dog, I cross the street to the other side to get away from the person and his/her dog.
Same, I feel you man.
I used to do that but when I was 8 it was over. Before, I hid behind my parents.
I have always had a fear of all animals. These laws now that these inconsiderate people can bring their dogs anywhere is stupid. Dogs don’t belong everywhere. Now everyone has a disability and needs a service dog. More money for the state and for the lawyers who will be getting more business.
I’m afraid even in the doctors office of people with service animals. I’m a veteran and some disabled vets have service dogs. Even they frighten me.
Bro what about blind people and their dogs? They obviously need them so how is it inconsiderate?
Great post! There may be different causes for dogs’ fear:
– Any illness or painful physical condition increases anxiety and contributes to the development of fears, phobias, and anxieties
– Aging changes associated with nervous system changes; infectious disease (primarily viral infections in the central nervous system), and toxic conditions, such as lead poisoning, may lead to behavioral problems, including fears, phobias, and anxieties
– Fear from a terrible experience; dog may have been forced into an unfamiliar and frightening experience
– Dogs that are deprived of social and environmental exposure until 14 weeks of age may become habitually fearful
– Phobias and panic may have a history of inability to escape or get away from the stimulus causing the phobia and panic, such as being locked in crate
– Separation anxiety: history of abandonment, multiple owners, rehoming, or prior neglect is common; exacerbating the condition may be that the dog has been often abandoned or rehomed because of separation anxiety
The article is about people who are afraid of dogs, not dogs who fear people. Please read it again!
Im doing my topic on cynophobia its really good.
Eddie Fox says
As a child some thugs attacked me and forced dog s*** in my mouth. For years this was blocked out of my memory until I saw a therapist and I still can’t remember the rest of the day! This has given me a life hatred of dogs of any description (I obviously had no idea of the breed). I have no fear of dogs at all. It is revulsion and disgust. My revulsion of dogs is the same as revulsion of their s***. Is there a solution for me as it is not fear, it’s disgust and hatred? I’ve even stared out a dog on the attack. My only inward response was to kick the thing hard out of anger. I hate people who allow their mutt to leave mess on the pavement/sidewalk for the obvious reason! To me therefore my problem is similar to that of a survivor of sexual abuse and thereafter being faced with their abuser. The problem with me is there isn’t just one abuser. In my mind there are millions of ’em! I know part of my problem is that I can’t separate the dog from the thugs. I experience none of the symptoms above. Only disgust and hatred as some might feel about Brussels sprouts or Marmite – only worse, much worse!
kiera Hillier says
I used to have it really bad, in fact when a dog used to come anywhere near me I would jump off my bike and stand on the saddle (literally) or cry and run away or sit on a seat with my feet up and put pillows around myself to keep the dogs away, screaming if they came near me.
I got over it by little by little. I would get closer and closer to dogs gradually (not all at once) until I could stroke puppies and small dogs. When I could do that and even some medium sized dogs, my family got a puppy. I stayed with that puppy as it grew up, taking the puppy to dog training with the other dogs. It was really hard (lots of tears and screams) and it resulted in me being able to be with reasonably sized dogs and I am nearly completely over it however I am still working on it.
I would just like to say that I have no reason to have this phobia except from my old babysitter had it really mildly.
I also had nightmares about wolves and was extremely frightened of them too.
this is a good place to find all the information I need
Stephanie Ihesie says
I have full blown Cynophobia and Zoophobia. There is a puppy that lives I my flat nowadays. I never leave my room. I have nightmares and I have become extremely paranoid. I have breakdowns frequently now. People stare at me like I am crazy. I really want to overcome my fear.
I thought I was the only one. I just wish there would be an easy way to overcome it. Whether it’s a big dog, medium sized or even a puppy I get so scared and paranoid and start sweating and just imagining what the dog could do to me if it ever got close to me. I just wish somehow I could get over it. Ugh it’s hard when almost everyone has a dog.
Omg me too. I have a dog in my house but he stays in the yard and i cant go outside when he’s free. I need someone to catch him so i can get in the car. People look at me like im crazy and stupid and i really hate that. I feel so embarrassed that i have this fear.
Mason Stringer says
Hi, what are some of the ways to get over cynophobia?
Yes just walk them, pet them and get used to them
junior Assamba says
This is good for research because it has a lot of information.
Alex Stringer says
Where can I learn more about cynophobia and can you tell me how you receive this fear?
Melissa Arce says
What’s the name of who wrote this and when was this written? I need the information to cite it, Thanks :)
Please I really need help.
I stay in a pg. There are 3 street dogs in my pg among which 1 dog keeps on harming me whenever I encounter it.
I don’t have the phobia until they’re grown or bark.
By the time when I go to my room that 1 particular dog growns and barks at me frequently (not in the room).
I just don’t know how to handle it.
Julian Peralta says
Do you offer therapy sessions or programs to overcome cynophobia?
Sorry, but all I can offer at the moment is the self-help information you find on this website. In the future, I plan to provide contact information to professional psychotherapists and hypnotherapists. Have a great day.