Being afraid of dogs isn’t something to be taken lightly. Although dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend – and although they’ve been the longest domesticated animal – that doesn’t stop you from freezing in your tracks when confronted by a dog. Whether it’s a seemingly friendly dog, wagging its tail, or a menacing one baring its teeth. So what can you do to overcome your cynophobia?
There are various treatments in common use for this phobia. You may instinctively know which one is likely to be best for you or it may be a process of trial and error to see which one produces the best results for you. We’re all different – in much the same way as there are many breeds of dogs, each with their own temperament and personality – which means there’s no one size fits all treatment.
Exposure treatment has one of the higher success rates but is one of the scarier treatments, at least at first. As the name suggests, it involves exposing you to dogs. Which means that it is best carried out in a controlled environment, ideally with some friendly dogs! Depending on the therapist it could take place in one long session (maybe half a day or more), supported by counselling or over several sessions, spread out over time.
Either way, you’ll get closer to your new canine friend and will learn that they’re not as threatening as you currently think they are. With most dogs the worst you’ll experience is a cold nose rubbing against your face, an enthusiastic tongue licking you or muddy paw prints when the dog jumps up to greet you.
Actually it’s this last option that is one of the more common fears about dogs. They can get just too enthusiastic in their greeting. Bounding up fast towards you and then leaping up to reinforce their enthusiasm. Maybe even bowling you over when they haven’t slowed down quite enough in those last couple of paces. This can be a daunting experience even for those people who aren’t actually afraid of dogs on a general basis.
If exposure treatment sounds a bit too over the top for you, there are other methods available.
Another common way to deal with dog phobia is to use hypnosis. This can be a face-to-face session with a hypnotist in your locality or it can be as simple as playing a pre-recorded MP3 to yourself.
Whichever method you choose, the general process is the same.
The hypnosis session will get you to relax, probably closing your eyes in the process. It will then proceed to help you examine how you deal with the idea of dogs in general and turn round these ideas so that you begin to realize that the majority of dogs are actually really keen on being friends with you and making sure that you’re happy, relaxed and also protected by your new canine friend. They can turn on their menacing side if they want to but once a dog is on your side, you’ll only see that side of their nature if another person hasn’t got your best interests at heart.