Dog phobia (cynophobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

Dogs, along with cats, are one of the favorite pets of humans. They provide great company, are loved, and in some cases even serve as therapy. And do those of us who have or have ever had a dog, do we know that these animals end up being part of our family and may even become our best friends.

In fact, 74% of the Spanish population say that the presence of dogs in their homes makes them happier. This is the conclusion of the scientist from the Affinity Foundation on the connection between humans and pets. This study involved 6,000 volunteers.

However, although these animals are very often adorable, many people experience great panic and discomfort in their presence, and avoid being near them anyway. This is known as canine phobia or phobia in dogs.

    Phobia in dogs, more common than you think

    Almost 43% of Spanish families have pets at home, and the dog is the favorite. According to the Affinity Foundation study, for 31% of the subjects in their research, their dog is almost more important than their friends. Strange as it may sound, 71% say they communicate regularly with their pet.

    This is why, for animal lovers, it is difficult to imagine anyone who would feel terrified by the presence of a dog. However, canine phobia is more common than many people realize. According to the results of a study conducted by psychologist José Gil Martínez, professor at the University of Valencia, 10% of people suffer from excessive and irrational fear of dogs. Not all of these people have this type of phobia, because for that this terror must be so intense that it affects their quality of life, but given this proportion, it is estimated that the number of people with cynophobia is relatively high. .

      Symptoms of cynophobia

      People with canine phobia feel it extreme anxiety when near the animal or when thinking of finding.

      The main symptoms they experience are panic and fear, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, tremors, and a strong urge to flee or avoid the dreaded stimulus. Therefore, the symptoms are no different from a specific phobia, but people with this type of phobia are not only afraid that a dog will harm them, but also they are also afraid of the panic reaction that accompanies an encounter with these animals.

      Like other phobic disorders, cynophobia usually presents physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms. They are as follows:

      • Disorientation and lack of concentration.
      • Shortness of breath and hyperventilation.
      • Excessive sweating.
      • Dry mouth.
      • Intense terror.
      • Intestinal discomfort and headaches.
      • Tension in the muscles.
      • Avoidance behaviors.
      • Anxiety.
      • Increased heart rate and increased heart rate.

      How phobias develop

      Most phobias they have their onset in childhood or adolescenceAnd the most common cause is the presence of a traumatic event that the person associates with a dog. From there, he generalizes this fear to all animals of the species through a process called classical conditioning.

      There are several scenarios that can lead to the development of the phobia. Direct experience can be a dog bite. However, sometimes a phobia can appear due to an irrational belief. For example, if a parent tells a child that dogs are dangerous and that they have attacked their grandfather in the past.

      It may also happen that the person experiencing this phobia is not aware of its occurrence, for example, being caused by a minor incident while watching a horror movie with dogs or by a feature film about rabies.

      Some experts say there is a certain genetic predisposition to developing phobias. However, others, the vast majority, believe that it is a phenomenon purely learned in interaction with the environmentBeyond that, some people have a greater predisposition to anxiety.

      Treatment of canine phobia

      Phobia is an anxiety disorder and like other phobic disorders responds well to cognitive behavioral therapy. One of the techniques most used to deal with this problem is exposure techniques, more specifically the systematic desensitization method. This technique is designed to help gradually eliminate fear and encourage more useful coping skills.

      As therapy sessions progress, they may use live dogs, although in the early stages, photographs, audiovisual content, plush dogs, and even exhibition with the imagination are often used. It should be remembered that phobia in dogs is irrational fear and, in general, patients often experience phobic symptoms even if the animal is not present.

      Overcoming It Can Be A Slow Process

      As the person overcomes the fear, they are encouraged to adopt positive behaviors such as approaching and petting a dog. Overcoming a phobia can be a slow process (a few months) and achieving it requires patience, effort, and an ability to overcome.

      If the phobia is severe, the psychologist may work with a psychiatrist who prescribes medication for the patient. Again drugs should never be the only treatment option, May help to significantly reduce anxiety symptoms.

      Cynophobia can create tremendous discomfort, especially since dogs are animals that live with humans and with which it is common to find. Fortunately, like any type of phobia, it can be overcome, although in most cases the anxiety it produces does not go away completely.

      Applications to fight against anxiety

      New technologies are also present in the treatment of phobias, and in recent years it has become possible to develop different applications that help to overcome the pathology if you suffer from it.

      Some expose you to the dreaded stimulus through virtual reality or augmented reality, while others just understand you they provide information so that you can better understand what is happening to you. If you want to know more about these apps, you can read this article: “8 Apps to Treat Phobias and Fears of Your Smartphone.”

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