Cynophobia is an excessive and irrational fear of dogs that occurs continuously. Cynophobia is one of the most common phobias experienced by many people. If you are one of them, don’t worry, because this phobia can be overcome.
Cynophobia is one type of specific phobia (phobia of specific objects, animals, activities, or situations). Cynophobia is generally characterized by panic, anxiety, or fear, which is excessive when around dogs or even just thinking about these animals.
Causes and Risk Factors of Cynophobia
Below are some of the common causes and risk factors for a person experiencing cynophobia or a phobia of dogs:
- Have had a bad experience with dogs in the past, for example being chased or bitten by a dog
- Have close family who are also phobic of dogs
- Knowing stories or negative information about dogs, for example having read news about dog attacks
Symptoms of Cynophobia
A person can be said to suffer from cynophobia if he has experienced symptoms of cynophobia for at least 6 months. Here are the symptoms commonly experienced by people with cynophobia:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Stomach ache
- Shivering or feeling hot
- Feeling panicky or anxious
- It feels like running away from a situation that triggers fear
- Feeling about to faint or die
- Loss of self control
In addition, there are some typical symptoms of this phobia that occur in children, namely tantrums, crying, or not wanting to move away from the person who accompanies them when there are dogs around.
To diagnose cynophobia, a psychologist or psychiatrist will first review your symptoms, as well as perform a physical exam.
If a psychologist or psychiatrist diagnoses that you have cynophobia, there are several possible treatments for this phobia, including:
1. Desensitization therapy
Desensitization therapy or exposure therapy is one of the best therapies for treating phobias. This therapy is done to help you fight and face your fear of something, in this case, the fear of dogs.
Desensitization therapy is done by placing you in situations that make you afraid, but gradually. For example, you will first be asked to view a picture or video of a dog.
Then, when you get used to it, the therapy will be increased, for example by showing the dog directly on the leash, and so on until you get used to the presence of dogs around you.
2. Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a type of therapy used to identify and review your fears as well as the best way to overcome them.
This therapy is done by exploring your feelings, thoughts, behaviours, and beliefs. Not only that, but you will also be taught to control and change the negative thoughts that usually arise when you are faced with a situation that makes you afraid so that you can be calmer in dealing with the situation.
Generally, the two therapies above are sufficient to treat cynophobia. However, sometimes a psychiatrist will prescribe anti-anxiety medication and antidepressant medication to reduce the anxiety or panic symptoms you experience due to cynophobia.
With proper care and treatment, this phobia can be cured, of course, but it may take time and patience. Therefore, if you experience symptoms of cynophobia, you should immediately consult a psychologist or psychiatrist.