Feeling the need to escape or flee.
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Heart racing, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, or chills. Feeling like what is happening is unreal. Feeling like you might die. Determine if you change your life because of your fear. Unfortunately fears can be so severe that we feel the best way to make them go away is to avoid them completely. While a fear of flying, for example, may be quite easy to avoid by simply never flying, dogs are another story.
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There are over 60 million dogs in the United States alone, so the chances of being able to avoid them completely is almost impossible. Ask yourself if you do the following things in order to avoid being around dogs. Do you change your route specifically to avoid a house or neighborhood that has a dog? Do you avoid speaking to certain people because they talk about their dogs? Understand there is a way to overcome this fear.
What Are the Signs of Fear in Dogs?
While it is possible to overcome your fear of dogs, keep in mind that you need to be patient. You may want to consider seeking professional help from a therapist who can walk you through the process of overcoming your fear. Write down specific past memories that you have about dogs, and how you felt during those experiences. Learn relaxation and meditation techniques to help keep your calm and help control your anxiety. Seek help from a professional therapist. While not required, a therapist will be able to help you overcome your fear and anxiety through psychotherapy.
Therapists have a very high success rate treating people with phobias. Therapists will use something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT which can help you alter the way you think and they can teach you skills that will help you overcome your fear. They can also use exposure therapy to help you regain control of your emotions when in the presence of dogs.
Enter your zip code to find a list of therapists near where you live. The list of therapists provided will include which disorders each therapist specializes in so you can select someone who specializes in specific phobias or cynophobia. Understand what cognitive restructuring is. Many phobias, including cynophobia, are based on how your brain comprehends a specific situation, rather than the actual situation itself.
Cognitive restructuring helps you to identify these thoughts, understand that they are irrational, and slowly help you to rethink or reframe your thoughts about a specific situation i. It is important to go into cognitive restructuring with an open and willing mind. You need to accept the fact that your fear is probably not based on rational thought, and as such, means that you can train yourself to think differently.
Think about events that trigger your fearful thoughts.
The first step to overcoming your fear is to identify what is causing the fear in the first place. This may include thinking and talking about your past experiences with dogs, and trying to figure out what may have started the phobia in the first place. It may also include narrowing down the exact trigger that causes your fear. Is it dogs in general that cause you to be fearful, or do you become fearful when a dog does something specific i. Underlying causes may be an anxiety disorder, depression, or maybe even a specific, yet unrelated, event that started the phobia.
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This is a great place to start a journal where you can record all the information about your fear of dogs that may be helpful for future therapy and analysis. Use your journal to record each event you can remember, and anything you can remember happening leading up to that event. Analyze your existing beliefs about your trigger events. Once you have a solid understanding of the specific events that trigger your phobia, you need to evaluate what you are thinking when this fear occurs.
What are you telling yourself? How are you interpreting the trigger event in your thoughts? What are your specific beliefs about that event the moment it is happening? At this point start recording the reasons why you think the events triggered your fear. Write down as many of your beliefs as you can remember. Analyze your beliefs and thoughts to determine if they include any of the following:  All or Nothing — do you view ALL dogs as bad, no matter what?
Or do you categorize dogs differently depending on some type of feature? Do you feel like you have no other choice in the matter? I have no choice but to be afraid of dogs.
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Look at the feelings and behaviors that result from your beliefs. At this point you should have a better understanding of what triggers your fear of dogs, and the thoughts and beliefs you have about dogs when that trigger happens. In other words, what are the consequences of your fear? Continue writing in your journal. Examples of reactions might be: You were walking down your street and encountered a dog in the yard of a specific home.
Afterwards you never walked down that street again. Investigate if evidence exists to back-up your beliefs. Think of this part of the process as you needing to be able to prove to your therapist or yourself that your fears are perfectly rational. For example, you have the belief that all dogs are going to attack you no matter what. Why do you think this is true? Does everyone else get attacked by every dog they encounter?
How to Calm Your Scared Dog
Why would people own dogs as pets if they were constantly attacked? Develop a rational explanation for the trigger event. You now need to think about the beliefs that are causing your fear and work with your therapist to develop rational explanations for your beliefs. Our beliefs can be entrenched in our minds so deeply that it can take some time and convincing that they make no sense.
For example, you have a belief that all dogs attack. Move to the next step in your recovery. At this stage you need to practice being around dogs.
Understand the different types of relaxation techniques. There are quite a few different types of relaxation techniques that you can learn to help with your fear and anxiety. They include, but are not limited to, the following: autogenic relaxation; progressive muscle relaxation; visualization; deep breathing; hypnosis; massage; meditation; tai chi; yoga; biofeedback; and music and art therapy. Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique where you tense and relax each muscle in your body in order to get a sense of what each one feels like in both a tense and relaxed state.
Visualization is a technique where you visualize specific settings that make you feel relaxed and calm i. Deep breathing is a technique where you purposely breathe deeply from your abdomen in order to release tension and reverse hyperventilation.