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What Is Cynophobia? - Dog Phobia

Misbah has always wanted to pursue writing as a career. She has done her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Fine arts.

What is Phobia?

A phobia is a much more common disorder than previously thought, and it can take different forms; after all, it is an irrational fear of a particular experience or concept, with all the variety that this implies. If we add this to the fact that it can sometimes lead to very frequent discomfort, the quality of life of those who suffer from it is greatly reduced.

A clear example of this is the phobia of dogs or cynophobia since this is the most common pet that humans have. And it is that dogs are great companions. Anyone who has had one knows what we are talking about — the unconditional love they offer and the good company they do — so they easily become one of the family. But for those who develop a phobia of dogs, these animals can become a real nightmare.

In this article, we will see what is cynophobia and what its main characteristics are.

What is dog phobia?

The phobia of dogs is an anxiety disorder belonging to the category of specific phobias. These are psychological alterations in which an environment, living being, or specific object triggers reactions of great anxiety, which appear in a matter of seconds and produce the impulse to stop being exposed to those elements as soon as possible, to the point of practically losing control of the acts themselves.

Thus, the phobia of dogs is an irrational fear of dogs, and in the most severe cases, it can cause a lot of anxiety just by thinking that we can meet one — that is, you do not even need to see the animal suffer these kinds of panic experiences.

Despite the popularity of dogs, this irrational fear is more common than you might think at first, so its treatment in diagnosing people will improve their quality of life by overcoming this disorder because it is easy to find with any of these pets when leaving home.


Cynophobia shares similar symptomatology, with the rest of phobias being, both physical, cognitive, and behavioral changes, mainly:

  • Intense fear
  • Anxiety.
  • Panic.
  • Feeling of helplessness
  • Evasive or flight behavior.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing.

Causes of Cynophobia

The origin of the phobia of dogs is often suffering a traumatic event that involves the presence of a dog. By classical conditioning, a mechanism of the mind that associates elements with an involuntary response, the fear that caused this situation spreads to every species of dog that exists.

Nevertheless, on many occasions, people develop cynophobia without having had a very painful experience (physically or emotionally) with dogs.

For example, it is also possible to internalize this fear, instilling ideas and recommendations to avoid dangers such as when a parent repeats that dogs are bad.

In any case, it may also be that the phobia of dogs appears without being able to identify specific experiences in which the dogs began to produce fear. It should not be forgotten that psychological disorders do not usually have a single cause, but are the product of a combination of contextual factors and biological predispositions of the person's nervous system.

Treatment of cynophobia

Dog phobia, like any other type of phobia, responds very well to cognitive-behavioral therapy, a method that influences both the way we think and the way we interact with the environment.

The method used aims to build new thoughts and behaviors towards what causes anxiety — in this case, dogs — so it works not only on the patient's beliefs but also on their interaction patterns with these animals.

A widely used technique consists of gradually exposing oneself to that source of discomfort so that more neutral experiences are implemented at the beginning, and positive later, replacing the negative experiences that feedback due to the anxiety produced by exposure to these animals.

The duration of treatment must be expected to be weeks or months, since overcoming any type of phobia is possible, but it requires time, patience, and commitment to therapy. And it is that irrational fears are complicated to manage oneself since even with the very fact of thinking about a situation that involves their fear, it causes a lot of anxiety to the person who suffers it.

The first is to know the severity of cynophobia. If it is a serious phobia of dogs, the first contact with the source of anxiety will be made with photographs or directly with the imagination, instead of exposing it directly to a live dog or a virtual reality environment. Of course, the most important thing, in any case, is that it goes little by little.

Throughout this process, the psychologist has stayed with the patient, favoring the appearance of neutral or positive thoughts and advising anxiety-management strategies.

Studies - Bibliographic references:

American Psychiatric Association (2013), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition), Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Hamm, AO (2009). Specific phobias. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 32 (3): pp. 577-591.

Myers; Davis, KM (2007). "Mechanisms of fear extinction". Molecular Psychiatry. 12 (2): pp. 120 - 150.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Misbah Sheikh


Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Poets on February 22, 2021:

Thanks a lot, Chitra di

I am glad you liked the article

The barking of dogs especially makes me feel worried.


Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 22, 2021:

Great article about Cynophobia, and it’s symptoms. You explained it quite well. Good of you to share your personal experiences. Many people are afraid of dogs, if they have faced dog attacks or bites. It’s quite natural.

Thank you for sharing.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Poets on February 22, 2021:

Thanks a lot Pamela for appreciating

Sending Blessings

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 22, 2021:

This is an interesting article about cynophobia. I have never been afraid of dogs, but I know some people are. The therapy sounds very appropriate, Misbah. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Poets on February 22, 2021:

Wasalam Manatita bro,

I am glad to see you here.

Thanks for appreciating and liking the article

I always look forward to read more of your work and always enjoy it too.


manatita44 from london on February 22, 2021:

Assalamu Alaikum, my Didi ji.

I love your article. Your writing 'voice' is improving and I also admire your diversity. Gives me more range to comment on. The content is engaging and well thought out and the presentation is good.

Me, I'm a creative writer, but I still stay mostly with the poetry, although I may do essays, plays, and Flash Fiction from time to time. But my genre is deliberate ... to serve in a spiritual way.

I just wanted to encourage you as you move forward on your path of beauty and Light. Sorry to hear about the plagiarism. A big problem which is not easy to control. Continue to hold your inner balance. Jazak Allahu Khayran

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Poets on February 22, 2021:

Thanks for appreciation, Millicent Okello

I am glad you liked the article and shared your views on it.

You are most welcome to share your opinions


Millicent Okello from Nairobi, Kenya on February 22, 2021:

Thank you for this beautiful and informative article. Nobody wants to be a victim of stray dogs. We have to know a few things about them.

Thus, the phobia of dogs is an irrational fear of dogs, and in the most severe cases it can cause a lot of anxiety just by thinking that we can meet one, that is, you do not even need to see the animal to suffer these kinds of panic experiences.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Poets on February 22, 2021:

Thanks for appreciation and sharing your thoughts Rosina

In my country Pakistan, almost 70% of people are scared of dogs because most of the dogs are street dogs and can bite.

But now as I am living abroad so a lot of people here have dogs.

I want to get myself fixed with this phobia as I have noticed many people think that maybe I am doing something extraordinary different and some of them mind too.

In UK, I have seen less dogs in comparison to Spain, there are a lot dog lovers in Spain

I am trying to overcome


Rosina S Khan on February 22, 2021:

This is an interesting article about dog phobia. Even in my country, I feel afraid of stray dogs that they will bite me if they come near and I carry that fear with me when I travel abroad. I just can't stand furry animals. But I like to see others having fun with them at a distance or in movies.

I haven't particularly thought about treating my fear about dogs because in my area most families don't bother about having cats and dogs as pets.

That is not the culture here in Dhaka.

Good work on your article and well done!

Misbah Sheikh (author) from The World of Poets on February 22, 2021:

Thanks Jodah for reading and commenting

I know dogs are not bad, they are loyal and faithful but I am afraid of them as I mentioned the reason behind is, the street dogs of my country

I am overcoming it.


John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 22, 2021:

I have never been afraid of dogs, in fact, I love them. Had four at one stage all different types. I don't like a lot of insects though...like praying mantises, so...I understand phobias.

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