If your fear of dogs is impacting the quality of your life, Dr. Taji Huang in Glendale, CA, can help. She has extensive experience working with people struggling with specific phobias and other anxiety-based conditions.
What is Cynophobia?
Cynophobia—the fear of dogs—is a very common condition. Around 9% of the general population suffers from specific phobias, and 1 in 3 people with an animal-related phobia are afraid of dogs. Symptoms can range from mild anxiety to full-blown panic attacks. In severe cases, people may even avoid leaving their homes due to their fear of encountering a stray dog.
Signs & Symptoms You Have A Fear Of Dogs
There are various symptoms of cynophobia, ranging from mild anxiety to debilitating panic and dread. If you have this phobia, seeing, hearing, or being near dogs might cause:
- Anxiety, Worry, & Dread
- Heart Palpitations
- Rapid, Shallow Breathing
- Feeling Like You’re Choking Or Suffocating
- Panic Attacks
What Causes Cynophobia?
There are many different reasons someone might be scared of dogs, although it’s often linked to trauma and can be comorbid with PTSD. Like most mental health conditions, it is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as:
- Trauma caused by being attacked by a dog in the past.
- Witnessing a dog attack someone else.
- Having a general fear of animals.
- Being scared of contracting a disease (which is a common fear for people with health anxiety or Contamination OCD).
Overcome Cynophobia With Treatment & Therapy
Fortunately, you don’t have to continue suffering whenever you encounter a dog. Like most phobias, cynophobia responds quite well to exposure therapy. A therapist uses exposure therapy to gradually desensitize you to anxiety-provoking situations and decrease your anxiety over time.
If your fear of dogs is linked to trauma, then your therapist might suggest additional techniques aimed at treating the root causes, such as:
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Mindfulness & Guided Relaxation Exercises
Exposure Therapy Doesn’t Have To Be Overwhelming
A good exposure therapist will not ask you to walk up to a dog and start petting it right off the bat; instead, she will gradually introduce you to manageable levels of anxiety to avoid causing you too much distress. For instance, you might start by holding a dog plushie, looking at pictures of dogs, or listening to recordings of them barking. Once your anxiety habituates and you no longer find these situations frightening, she might suggest moving on to a more difficult exposure.
Glendale Therapist For Phobias & Anxiety
Dr. Taji Huang is a licensed anxiety therapist and clinical psychologist specializing in treating specific phobias and other fear-based disorders for adults. With extensive training in exposure therapy, CBT, and trauma-focused treatments such as EMDR, she has helped many people overcome their fears and regain their confidence. If you’re looking for cynophobia treatment in California, contact her office today to schedule your first appointment.