The deep dread or aversion to animals generally is known as zoophobia; the Fear of Dogs or Cynophobia is not nearly as common as the fear of spiders (arachniphobia) or the fear of snakes (Ophiodiophobia).
Cynophobia: The Fear of Dogs Phobia
Dogs can be found literally on every street, in about 85% home and there are higher chances of cynophobics coming across dogs in the course of their daily lives. These can invariably affect the quality of life, work and relationships with other people negatively.
Causes of Cynophobia
The main cause of the Fear of Dogs is probably the historic similarities between dogs and wolves because of the canines, rough look, etc. Cynophobics mostly fear rough and vicious looking dogs but sometimes their illogical fear is outstretched to small or aggressive puppies.
Naturally, dogs are loyal and helpful pets and can help their owners overcome depression, however, owing to traumatic events, dogs with sharp canines might appear dangerous or vicious to phobics.
Passively, parents can inculcate the Fear of Dogs in their children by forewarning them against petting or touching stray dogs. Thus saying, the Fear of Dogs might not have developed from a direct encounter with a dog but can also arise from an indirect source; for example, watching a family member or friend get attacked or growled at by a dog. This can lead to an excessive or deep dread of dogs.
Symptoms of Fear of Dogs
Victims of Fear of Dogs phobia experience both physical and psychological symptoms which are closely linked to panic and anxiety attacks. They include;
- 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 & Treatment for Fear of Dogs
In the diagnosis of Cynophobia, the main causative agent is to be found out. It is to be discovered if the fear is persistent or triggered by a stimulus. To be categorised as Cynophobia, the Fear of Dogs should be superfluous and severe enough to affect daily living and work functioning.
The best form of treatment is hypnotherapy, self help techniques through positive thinking, gradual desensitization techniques and/or in-vivo or external exposure therapy; here, the phobia is exposed to the stimulus in tandem, the reactions and symptoms are recorded with time as the individual gradually gets used to the images and presences of dogs till he can differentiate his negative thoughts and perceptions between reality and non-reality, touch and pet dogs, etc.
In conclusion, Neuro Linguistic Programming is another approach that can go a long way in siding the eradication of Fear of Dogs, for better living and a happier social life.