Cinophobia or phobia of dogs: why does it appear and how to overcome it?

Cinophobia or phobia of dogs outlines a type of irrational and limiting fear that affects 7% of the population. The figure is remarkable, and although it is not as common as arachnophobia (fear of spiders), it is something that is often seen in psychological consultation.

In a world where these animals are, along with cats, the favorite pets, it is difficult not to find them or to avoid this phobic stimulus altogether. In fact, many people avoid, for example, visiting certain friends or family because they have dogs.

In turn, there are more problematic cases. We can find individuals who they avoid going out for a morning run or frequenting certain parks for the simple fear of crossing these four-legged creatures, so adorable for some and terrifying for others.

Beyond what it may seem to us, the world of phobias is the most frequent psychiatric problem. Furthermore, studies such as those carried out by Dr. William Eaton, of the Johns Hopkins Department of Mental Health, indicate that phobias related to heights and animals are the most prevalent. Almost 15% of people suffer from them for life.

So, the most common in most cases is that they begin in childhood. As the years go by, these irrational fears not only intensify, but many others can be added. We are, therefore, before psychological realities that we must attend (and understand).

Cynophobia or phobia of dogs: symptoms, causes and coping strategies

A good part of the homes around the world live with one or more dogs. We even call them "man's best friend" and we do not hesitate to live with them, have them at the foot of the bed, go past them, talk to them, and so on. Something that for many is part of their daily lives, for others it is a terrifying phobic stimulus.

It does not matter if it is a potentially dangerous dog (PPP), such as the Pit Bull terrier or the Rottweiler. The person with cynophobia or phobia of dogs is completely afraid of all breeds, large and small.

Likewise, this fear does not attend to genders or ages, anyone can suffer it. It is even common for the disorder to last for a good part of life. Let's see more data below.

People with cynophobia or phobia of dogs have an irrational fear of any contact with these animals, regardless of their breed.

Symptoms of cynophobia or phobia of dogs

All types of phobia, in addition to irrational fear and avoidance behavior, show a great variability of symptoms. There are those who live them in a more paralyzing way and those who manage, for their part, to develop a certain domain. However, on average, we see the following manifestations:

Emotional symptoms

  • Intense and paralyzing terror when seeing a dog or hearing its barking.
  • Anguish at the idea of ​​meeting one.
  • Anger when others do not understand their phobia, or shame when they are in situations that others do not understand.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Constant preoccupation with the idea of ​​coming across a dog.
  • Inability to think of anything else when in front of you.
  • They can come to plan where to spend each day when they leave home. The idea is not to come across any dogs.
  • Disorientation and lack of concentration.

Physical manifestations

  • Tachycardia and a choking sensation when they have a dog before them.
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive disorders and stomach pain
  • Muscle tension.
  • In many cases, they can have panic attacks.

What are the causes of cynophobia or phobia of dogs?

If we ask ourselves why cinophobia is interesting to know a fact: in most of the cases the origin is in a family conditioning. What does this mean?

  • Studies, such as those carried out at the University of Birmingham, for example, show that this type of fear can be transmitted from parents to children.
  • Sometimes, facts such as the father or mother warning their children that dogs bite or can hurt them, conditions that fear early. Likewise, family dislike of dogs can also condition children.
  • On the other hand, it is also worth talking about traumatic events. Having suffered an attack from one of these animals can cause this phobia to develop.

There is, however, an agreement that cynophobia or fear of dogs is a phenomenon learned as a result of our interaction with the environment.

Exposure therapy is one of the most used when it comes to treating dog phobia.

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How is it treated?

Another fact that is worth understanding when faced with this type of phobia is that fear is not always overcome. There are many people who do not ask for help and who end up leading to more intense anxiety disorders.

Regarding this, it is important to be aware that any phobia limits the quality of life and ends up worsening over time. Even more so if they are fears in which the phobic stimulus is present during the day. Let's see what are the most effective strategies when it comes to addressing this psychological condition.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, aimed at detecting irrational thoughts and deactivating them, it can help the patient build a healthier approach.
  • Systematic desensitization also allows you to gradually reduce fear by creating adequate coping skills.
  • Exposure therapy, for its part, is the most suitable in the treatment of phobias. It consists of bringing the person closer to the phobic stimulus, in a controlled way, to control and rationalize the fear.
  • Virtual reality therapy. Currently, this technology offers great results, especially in the treatment of cynophobia or phobia of dogs.

It should be noted, among other things, that one way to reduce the incidence and appearance of this type of phobias is to create a good approach of children to dogs from very early.

The good connection and knowing how to create a positive, fun and affectionate environment, reduces fears and creates an intense alliance of the little ones with the animals.