FEAR OF DOGS

Cynophobia is the fear of dogs that affect 11% of the adult population and touching twice as many women than men.  It is common knowledge that dogs are direct descendants from wolves.  When wolves hunt, they take turns chasing their prey to wear them out.  The ancient humans observed this technique and teamed up with the wolves for their mutual benefit.  The wolf walked an uneasy balance between helping and hunting humans making the relationship complicated. 

A. Primordial Fears.  Different fear mechanisms are in play with the dog fear; and each is a stressful topic.  If continuing is too stressful it would be better to stop and seek help from a professional.  High anxiety blocks analytical thinking and makes self-help techniques difficult to implement . 

1. Death. The general fear of death is discussed in a separate webpage category.  But, there are many subcategories associated with the triggers (falling, suffocation, etc.).  

a. Is your fear associated with being eaten alive? If “being eaten alive” rushed into your mind when you first became anxious, then it is a likely root of the fear. The facts do not back-up the fear.  Almost all carnivores kill their prey first.  They do this because they do not want to prey to get up and run away.  This means your fear of “being eaten alive” is probably a false negative thought. 

This also means that your fear of dogs may not be about dogs.  It may be about being eaten alive.  Narrow down when you first had this fear.  Did you see any movies showing people being eaten alive?  This is a universal theme in horror movies because it is so scary.  JAWS is an example.  Jurassic Park is another.  If you can connect a specific movie to when you developed this fear, then you are on your way to recovery.  It also means that this is not a primordial fear but a fear caused by manipulation. 

b. Is your fear associated with being killed by a Dog? There have been cases where a person was killed by a dog. It is a rare occurrence in the range a million to one.  The chance of dying by an asteroid is 5 times greater at 1 in 200,000.  This means your fear is probably from a false negative thought. 

The fear could be from watching news-stories on the subject.  Whenever a person is killed by a dog, the media repeats that same story many, many times.  Other television stations pick it up and they republish the story over and over again.  This creates a feeding frenzy.   None of these networks report how rare it is or that people have a greater chance of dying from an asteroid.  This would be another example of a fear caused by manipulation. 

c. Is your fear associated with a Pack of Dogs? The chance of being attacked by a pack of dogs is almost zero. There are no documented cases where this has happened in the United States.  When you have this thought, say to yourself, “it is not true.  It has never happened.” 

This is a fear likely caused by manipulation.   There are many movies about killer dog packs.  The Pack was a popular movie in 1977 and redone in 2015.   There are many similar movies such as Dogs of Hell, Cujo, Dracula’s dogs, Wilderness, Road Kill, and many others.  

 2. Being Hunted. All dogs have a sense of smell that is 50-200 times more sensitive than a human.  As such, you cannot hide from a dog.  Again the fear is most likely caused by manipulation.  The movies discussed above such as The Pack involved a pack of dogs hunting people.  These are nothing more than false negative thoughts. Wolves, being highly intelligent, have learned long ago that hunting humans is not safe. 

3. Exposed Teeth and Vicious Growl.  There is no question that exposed canine teeth and vicious growl are frightening.  But seeing and hearing do not kill anyone.  It is a warning. 

If these observations are real (as opposed to imagined) then they are not negative thoughts.  This is where survival skills are important.  You should stand tall and look as large as you can.  Then slowly back away.  Although hard to do, maintaining eye contact is important.  This tells the wolf or dog that you are not afraid and you may harm them.  The very last thing to do is to run.  

Wolves and dogs are very intelligent.  They instinctively know that you constitute a mortal threat to them.  They will be cautious and afraid.  If you can, slowly pick up a sturdy stick that is about 4 to 6 feet long.  That length of stick looks like a rifle.  Point the stick at the wolf or dog.  Hunters have observed that when they pointed a rifle at a wolf it made them scatter immediately.   If a stick is not available then find a couple rocks and throw them directly at the wolf or dog.  If there is a nearby tree, climb the tree, and wait. 

4. Howling. Wolves howl in the quiet hours of dusk to midnight.  The howls can be heard as much as six miles away.  Why wolves howl is unknown.  It may be announcing their territory, to socialize, or to find a mate.  Dogs normally do not howl, but some have been observed howling to music.  Howling does not hurt anyone and is not the precursor to an attack.  It does announce the presence of a wolf in the vicinity.  This knowledge can be frightening, but is helpful by giving you time to take mitigating measures, i.e. go inside.   

If you feel threatened by the howl, it is probably associated with manipulation.  Every Halloween album sold has a generous serving of wolf howls.  All scary movies with and without wolves have one or two scenes with midnight howling.  

B. Learned Fears.

1. Trauma. With 75 million dogs in the United States, a traumatic occurrence is possible.  If the trauma was significant, it is likely that you will need professional help.   This help should be sought at the earliest time to avoid compounding the fear with reoccurring negative thoughts. 

Write down in extreme detail the events surrounding the attack.  This means everything, i.e. words spoken, all movements, who were present, where they were standing, what were their reactions, everything the dog did prior to and during the attack, etc.  For example, did you put your hand down for the dog to sniff?  This is only a precursor step to petting the dog, i.e. before you pet the dog you must allow them to sniff you.  And, you do not touch your hand on the dog’s nose.  The dog must move toward your hand a sniff. 

Sometimes the minor details are more important that the major details.  These minor things may explain why you developed the fear.  Did you freeze?  Why did you freeze?  Did you look away?   What was the color of your clothing?   Many people say that dogs cannot see color.  That is not true.  Humans have three color receptors (red, green, and blue).  Dogs have two (yellow and blue).  Dogs are nearsighted and cannot make out distant objects very well.  Did you look big or small to the dog?  Did anyone present run away from or lunge toward the dog.

Dogs have excellent hearing and smell.  Were you wearing a particular type of cologne or perfume?  Were you menstruating?  Was there a bell, whistle, or siren going off in the background?  

If you are able to write the details of what happened, that means your anxiety level is not too high.  Most people with a high anxiety level cannot recall or refuse to recall such details.  For more detail on how to cope or handle your fears, go to the section on “Solve It”

2. Manipulation. Manipulation is the most frequent cause for most fears. It is done for economic, social, religious, military, and political power.  It has existed from the dawn of time and will exist as long as animals have a brain.  It is a fundamental concept that scaring people is an effective control method. 

The concept of Werewolves began as a means of controlling the wolf population that were killing farm animals, i.e. an economic benefit.  But werewolves also had a social and political connection to control people from roaming around at night.   

The solution to manipulation is discussed in detail in the Manipulation section.  This is an incredibly fascinating topic. 

3. Parent Connection. Was either of your parents afraid of dogs? Did they impart their fears to you?   Did they cross the street to avoid walking past a dog?  Did you have a parent that prevented you from petting or touching a dog?  These fears are learned from observation.  The “Solve It” section covers the various treatment methods. 

 C. Personality Trait. The personality trait most applicable would be the D type followed by the B Type.  People who are afraid of dogs include:  Michael Jackson, Genghis Khan, etc.