What is Cynophobia?
Noun 1. cynophobia – a morbid fear of dogs
(taken from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cynophobia)
I wanted to share my experience as someone who had it and how I overcame it .. along with some useful tips on overcoming the fear and general tips on approaching strange dogs.
When someone said dog.. this is what I pictured.
some snarling rabies infected animal foaming at the mouth trying to bite me and maim me to bits & pieces.
I was petrified of dogs.
I would look the other way as I had heard dogs can sense fear and will go running after you if you try to run away.
I would walk on the other side of the side walk.
I was simply pee in my pants petrified of dogs.
It all changed years ago on a walk with my mom in Germany a man had a German Shepard on a leash on the same side of the sidewalk. I tried my best to make myself small and I am pretty sure they both could sense how uncomfortable I was being so close to the dog.
He stopped and asked me if I would like to feed the dog a treat.
I shied away at first.
The guy insisted saying the dog was gentle and would not hurt and I caved.
He handed me a treat for the dog and I held it up just above the dog’s nose so he could sniff it.
The dog opened it’s mouth slightly.. I saw teeth and wanted to run away and the dog gently pulled the treat out of my mittened hand.
Now fast forward to me being in my 20s and having a roommate whose family lives on a small farm and has australian cattle dogs (blue tick heelers or austrialian heelers) and I end up having to confront my fears with her as well as her sister a half heeler who was extremely sweet.
and meeting a true blooded rottwieler and giving him the gift of an empty cardboard box (per his owner’s request) watching him tear that thing to pieces was frightening but he adored me because he got a box.
I’ve had dogs since then… met a few more and have grown to love and adore dogs and puppies alike. Especially puppy breath and their cute whining as they are practicing how to growl, bark and howl.
The way I got over my fear may not be the way everyone else can get over their fear, so here’s some help for those who are still petrified of dogs.
How To Overcome Fear Of Dogs
- Dogs are lovable animals and loyal to their masters. They can have a fierce side but remember that they attack only when provoked.
- To get rid of your fear, you have to be sensitive, knowledgeable, positive, careful, and responsible towards the animal.
- Find out why you are scared of dogs. Remind yourself that dogs are the best friends of man, and repeat this in your mind every day.
- Visit your local dog park. Watch the dogs and their activities from a distance for at least a few minutes. Do this activity for about a month.
- Try to befriend a dog. You don’t have to hug or touch them instantly. A slow gradual process will help you. Choose a dog that you are familiar with like a friends pet or one that a family member owns.
- You can watch a film on dogs, or look for cute pictures and images of puppies or dogs cuddling with humans, and indulging in playful activities. It really can have a positive impact on you, and your approach towards the dogs.
- There are some people who like dogs but are afraid to touch or go near them. If you like dogs but the fear puts a barrier between you and the dog then you should collect information on dogs, and you will be surprised to learn a lot of positive qualities about them. Try to understand the nature, and behavior of the dogs, and you will learn to admire them.
- Do not harbor any wrong impression about the size or the appearance of the dog. Dogs like Labrador may be large in size but they are one of the gentlest creatures. On the other hand, a Pekinese which is smaller in size can be very aggressive.
- Start playing with puppies. They are harmless, small, with no sharp teeth, no growling, and no snarling. You will be surprised to find those puppies recognizing you within a few days of your friendship.
I have learned since then to appreciate the companionship a dog brings and have been a strong advocate of leash laws (Florida has a statue for it and occasionally you will see the sign posted about it).
For those that actually want to read the Florida statues that cover dog bite and dangerous dogs.. http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusflst767_04.htm (just a fair warning the summary at the beginning is better than the lawyerize actual statues)
I do believe that either people who are walking their dogs do the following:
1 -they forget that not everyone shares their doggy loving enthusiasm (example people who are scare of dogs or just don’t like them int their yards)
2-they are too lazy to put their dog on leash
Please dog lovers & dog parents remember that though your dog is your loving companion it may be someone’s worst nightmare to come up on the street with you and your unleashed dog.
Or if your dog decides to run into the street with a leash and a car comes by, it’s a driver’s worst nightmare to be the one that hits that dog.
Please please be a responsible dog owner and get your dog on a leash. It’s a lot safer for them and for you. I’ve lost a dog to a vehicle before, not for being on a leash but because she escaped her kennel. Not a fun thing to have to go through and I would never wish that on anyone. I certainly don’t want to be the one to hit someone’s dog or cat either.
I have also learned that some dogs just get a bad rap due to the media and well.. mainly the media.
Take pit bulls for instance:
Yes they are mainly the ones used for dog fighting (which is cruel treatment of an animal) and they are often the ones who are mentioned in attacks against people, but they are not all bad dogs.
Some of them are big sissies and will pee themselves if a stranger approaches.
Rottweilers also have a bad reputation for attacking people along with Akitas, German Shepards and other big dogs.
So before getting a dog check to make sure where you live doesn’t have a ban on a specific breed.
Home owner’s associations, landlords, rental management companies and even the US Army.. it’s best to ask first and there are some states and certain areas that have bans on certain breeds period.
Check out a general list of what breeds are banned in the United States by State and locality here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breed-specific_legislation#United_States
In looking at the list the pit bull comes up a lot, it’s actually the most banned dog breed.
Mainly because of overpopulation and a few bad owners that use them for fighting, dogs need exercise and stimulation. Like children they need to have something to do or they will go a bit crazy and start chewing on furniture and ripping through things. Before getting a dog here are some things to consider.
There are four important things ( T-I-M-E ) to consider before you decide to get a dog home.
1 ) Time Commitment
2 ) Iintention and reason of getting a dog
3 ) Money; financial Commitment
4 ) Enviroment
TIME COMMITMENT :-Getting a dog is exciting but owing a dog is a long-term commitment as most dogs have a life-span of 8 to 16 years. So before you take the plunge, ask yourself if you have enough time in bringing up and training your dog. You will need to devote a lot of time and patience day by day, 7 days a week commitment. Will your lifestyle accommodate your dog? Do you always have busy schedule or travelling very frequent? More time and medical attention will be needed especially when your dog is older, are you willing to sacrify your time?
INTENTION AND REASON :-Many people getting dogs simply because they are cute and adorable, a nice present for their children and love ones and they always let their hearts rule their heads, they forgot the puppies will grow into bigger sizes and health problems that might arise when the dogs are older, some dog owners would then decide to sell away their dogs when this happens which I strongly discourage as this is an act of irresponsible. Ask yourself what is the intention of you getting a dog or more than one dog? Companion dogs for companion? For emotional support? To overcome your irrational fear such as fear in the dark or anxiety when being alone? Large dogs or Working dogs for protection and house watching? Top breeds for show purpose and enjoy the glory? Please refer to Dog Breeds where you can see all the different dog breeds from a-z. Whatever the reasons maybe I do believe having a good human-dog relationship can bring you therapeutic value.
MONEY AND FINANCIAL COMMITMENT :-Next important thing you need to consider is about the ongoing costs for food, nutrition, grooming, medical care, accessaries, agility training fees and kennelling fees for your dog while you are away. Can you afford it?
ENVIROMENT :-Giving your dog a comfortable space to live is equally important. Due to the size, activity level and temperament, some breeds need more space and fenced yard to run. Some breeds are smaller in size and more sociable maybe live indoor. Some working dogs are protective, powerful and aggresive may need to live outdoor with fenced to avoid possible of attacking stranger. So do you have a suitable place for your dog to live as part of your family? Do prepare a proper space well before getting a dog home and remember, it’s going to be your dog’s permenant place for him to sleep, rest, cuddle and hideout.
(Taken from http://www.info-on-dogs.com/getting-a-dog.html_
In speaking of the Money Commitment (see above) here’s a great breakdown of what it costs to own a dog or cat.
Lifetime Expenses Dog or Cat
Adoption fee (at a shelter this includes spay or neuter fee)[Dog] $100[Cat] $85
Vaccines (two per year at $15/each) [Dog]$450[Cat] $450
Heartworm test (one per year) [Dog]$25 [Cat] $30
Heartworm prevention pills (varies depending on size of animal)[Dog] $900 [Cat] $600
Leukemia test[Dog] n/a [Cat] $40
Leukemia prevention shot -one per year at $17/each[Dog] n/a [Cat] $255
Basic health exam (one per year at $30 per visit)[Dog] $450[Cat] $450
Microchipping (implanted ID) [Dog]$30[Cat] $30
Flea control (varies depending on size of animal)[Dog] $1,800 [Cat] $1,440
License ($10 per year if animal is altered) [Dog]$150 [Cat] $150
Food (dry – $182 per year) [Dog]$2,730 [Cat] $2,730
Grooming (brushes, combs, shampoo, nail trimmers, etc.) [Dog]$100[Cat] $100
Cat litter ($60 per year) [Dog]n/a [Cat] $900
Litter box and scoop (1 per year at $10/each) [Dog]n/a [Cat] $150
Collars and leashes[Dog]$225 [Cat] $50
Total cost per year [Dog]$6,960[Cat] $7,460
(Taken from http://www.sspca.org/page.php?sid=105)Please note that this list is based on a 15-year life expectancy and does not include all of the expenses you will incur. Don’t forget training, illness, toys, treats, bowls, bed, carrier, kennel fees, etc. It is estimated that the average cost per year of owning a cat or dog is about $1,000.
Author’s Note: I’ve got three cats, one who has a medical condition and requires a prescription which is $30 per refill and needs to see the vet on a follow-up. They are costly but the companionship an animal brings is priceless.
Here are some good tips on how to approach dogs:
The following tips on human body language are applicable when interacting with any dog, but are especially important when dealing with a fearful dog. Adopt these mannerisms and teach others who interact with your dog to do so as well:
1 Let the dog come to you. If your dog is frightened, she must be allowed to decide whether or not to approach. Don’t restrain your dog and force her to accept contact from others. Remember the “fight or flight” response; if you take away the opportunity for flight, your dog’s choices are limited.
2 Turn to the side. Facing a dog directly is more confrontational than keeping your body turned partially or completely to the side; even turning your head to the side will make a frightened dog feel less anxious.
3 No staring, please ! A direct stare is a threat in the animal kingdom (and on New York City subways!). It is perfectly fine to look at your dog; just soften your expression and don’t “hard stare” directly into her eyes. Do not allow children to put their faces near your dog’s face or to stare into her eyes.
4 Don’t hover. Leaning over a dog can cause the dog to become afraid and possibly defensive. The one time I was bitten while working in a Los Angeles city animal shelter happened when I went to return an adorable, fluffy white dog to her pen. While placing her on the ground, I inadvertently reached over her equally adorable little pen mateãwho jumped up and bit me in the face.
5 Pet appropriately. Approaching dogs by patting them on the head is ill-advised. Envision the interaction from the dog’s point of view; a palm approaching from above can be alarming. I do a demonstration with kids to teach them how to pet dogs properly. The child plays the role of the dog; I tell the child that I will pet him in two different ways, and he is to tell me which is nicer. First, I reach my hand slowly toward the child’s cheek and stroke it, smiling and softly saying, “Good dog!” Next, I bring my hand brusquely palm-down over the child’s head repeatedly, while loudly saying, “Good dog, good dog!” Kids almost invariably like the first method better. If dogs could answer for themselves, nine out of ten dogs would vote for the first method as well! It’s not that dogs should never be petted on top of the head, but that head-patting (or petting over the dog’s shoulders, back, or rump) should not be used as an initial approach. It is wiser to make a fist, hold it under the dog’s nose to allow her to sniff, then pet the dog on the chest, moving gradually to the sides of the face and other body parts, assuming the dog is comfortable. Likewise, a hand moving in quickly to grab for a dog’s collar is more potentially fear-inducing than a hand moving slowly to a dog’s chest, scratching it, then moving up to take hold of the collar.
6 Stoop, don’t swoop. Small dogs in particular are often swooped down upon when people want to pick them up. Fast, direct, overhead movements are much more frightening than slow, indirect ones. To lift a small dog, crouch down, pet the dog for a moment, then gently slip your hands under her belly and chest, and lift.
7 Watch your smile. While humans interpret a smile as friendly, a dog might not be as fond of seeing your pearly whites. A show of teeth is, after all, a threat in the animal kingdom. A friend of mine once accompanied me to visit the wolves at the rescue center. She patiently sat on the ground, motionless. Finally, a large, black wolf approached to investigate. Unable to contain herself, she broke out in a huge, toothy grin. The wolf darted away as though she had raised a hand to hit him. The lesson? Save the dazzling toothpaste smile for charming your dates and accepting awards. Smile at canines with a closed mouth.
When I approach dog or cat I always let them sniff me my hand first, it gives them a chance to interact with me on their terms. Cats especially will decide whether or not they want to be touched by you, I do this with my own cats constantly to keep in practice. But this helps the animal decide whether or not they want to be touched and animals can decide whether or not they like you just by smell.
Also if the owner is nearby ask if the dog is friendly and if its okay to approach and pet. Some dogs don’t like to be petted just as some people don’t like to be touched.
Don’t let stereotypes and your fear get in the way of missing out on a great friendship. But be a responsible owner and look into any restrictions on breeds make sure you have the time and commitment for your new family member.