Fear is a powerful emotion and it can hold us back from experiencing anything even the simple joys of life, such as the companionship of a furry friend. If you find yourself gripped with fear at the sight of a dog, you’re not alone, a lot of folks fear dogs even puppies, and it’s normal.
Cynophobia, or the fear of dogs, is more common than you might think but the good news is that this fear can be overcome with techniques, patience, and the right approach, how do you overcome it? That’s what we are about to show you here.
How to Overcome Fear of Dogs
Understand the cause of the fear
Most times when we fear stuff around us, we feel that way because of the unknown or because of an experience we had in the past that is just hard to get over. Take a moment to reflect on your fear. What triggered it?
You need to understand the root cause of your fear, it is the base for overcoming it, your fear could be a result of a childhood incident, a frightening encounter, a story you were told, or simply a lack of exposure to dogs. You need to pinpoint the cause; you can work on addressing it directly.
You need to unlearn and learn
Start by learning about dog behavior, their body language, and the different breeds. Understanding that a dog’s bark might be worse than its bite and that their body language communicates their feelings can make you understand its actions better. There are numerous books, online resources, and documentaries available that you can use to understand dogs better.
Gradually expose yourself to dogs
Once you understand dogs better, you can start facing your fears, facing your fear gradually is key. Begin by observing dogs from a safe distance, like a park or a friend’s house.
Observe their interactions and behaviors without direct interaction. At this stage, don’t get close to them, you are still learning them. As you grow more comfortable, you can decrease the distance between you and the dog. The key here is gradual exposure, allowing your mind to get used to the presence of dogs without feeling overwhelmed.
You can seek help from friends
If you feel you can’t do this alone, don’t hesitate to seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist. Opening up about your fear can provide a cathartic release. Friends with friendly, well-behaved dogs can assist you in your gradual exposure process.
A therapist on the other hand particularly one specializing in anxiety, can employ techniques to help you cope, such as systematic desensitization or exposure therapy.
Gradually spend time with calm dogs
By now, you understand dogs better, and you can now start spending time with a calm, well-behaved dog under the supervision of its owner. Start with brief interactions and each time you successfully interact without fear, reward yourself. Positive reinforcement can also come from the dog – their wagging tail, friendly demeanor, and unconditional love can be immensely reassuring.
You can take dog training classes
To get even better and at a faster rate, you can enroll in a dog training class. Enrolling in dog training classes can be a game-changer. These classes are led by professionals and they not only teach dogs but also teach you how to handle them.
You can start as an observer, watching how experts interact with dogs. As your confidence grows, you can actively participate in the training process. This controlled environment ensures safety while boosting your confidence.
Take your time
Lastly, be patient with yourself. Overcoming a deep-rooted fear takes time. You can’t get the result by skipping the process and for you to follow the process, you need time so no need to rush, take your time and the result will come.
Celebrate every small victory, whether it’s petting a dog for a few seconds without fear or simply being in the same room as one. Acknowledge your progress and don’t rush the process. Be kind to yourself; facing a fear head-on requires tremendous courage.
Overcoming your fear of dogs is a journey that demands unlearning and relearning, you need to be patient with yourself. Go for it step by step and seek help if you need it.
It’s okay for you to take small steps; progress is progress, no matter how slow, what matters most is that you are making progress.