What is dog phobia?
Dog phobia (cynophobia) is a condition in which an individual fears being around dogs. Sometimes the person fears large dogs, although, in most cases, he or she is unable to tolerate any type of dog – large or small. This extreme fear usually involves a great deal of avoidance behaviour: for example, some phobics are not able to enjoy walking in the park for the fear that they will have an encounter with a dog. In extreme cases, patients are unable to read the newspaper because one of the pages might contain a dog; and, some patients are unable even to say the word ‘dog’.
How is it treated?
Systematic desensitization (for an example of a treatment programme click HERE). In the session, the client and I devise a list of potentially anxiety-provoking situations. And then, in the hypnosis, we gradually work through the list getting more confident and proficient as time passes. Generally, we pair the fear with feelings of relaxation; and, as a result, in the future, many of the unpleasant sensations of being frightened – increased heart rate, sweating, anxiety, palpitations, startle response and so forth – are replaced with feelings of comfort and ease. The following is an example of a list of potentially anxiety-provoking situations used in systematic desensitization.
1. Seeing a dog across the road.
2. Seeing a dog on the same side of the road.
3. Seeing a dog in a public place.
4. Seeing a small dog barking in a public place.
5. Seeing a large dog barking in a public place.
6. Patting a large dog on the head.
How many sessions do I need?
We are all different; however, this behavioural treatment programme tends to achieve significant results in a relatively short period of time. The programme includes psychotherapy and counselling, as well as behaviour therapy in hypnosis.
Key words: systematic desensitisation, dog phobia, cynophobia, behaviour therapy, hypnosis, counselling, psychotherapy
David Kraft, PhD
Accredited Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist