What is Cynophobia?

Cynophobia is the irrational fear of dogs. This is one of the most common types of specific phobias, falling in the sub-category of fearing animals.


Do You Have This Phobia?

If you fit into the following categories it’s very likely that you have Cynophobia.

  • Persistent Fear of Dogs
  • Exposure to fear provokes immediate anxiety
  • Sufferers know their fear is irrational or unreasonable
  • Drastic measures to avoid exposure
  • Anxiety Attacks When Thinking of Exposure / Actual Exposure


There are three main causes to having this specific phobia. These include:

Direct Personal Experience

This is when the sufferer has had a traumatic personal experience, such as being bitten by a dog, in the past. They tend to associate their past experience with the idea of any dog.

Observational Experience

Closely related to direct personal experience, observational experience is when the sufferer witnessed someone else’s trauma. For example, they saw their friend get bitten by a dog in the past.

Informational / Instructional Experience

Unlike the top two experiences, this cause deals with an indirect knowledge of a live dog. The fear is not sparked by a live dog itself, rather through informational or instructional means. This could be developed due to reading an informative book, watching a film, or even seeing parental cues of avoiding and disliking dogs. All of these means teach the sufferer to associate dogs with fear.


There are a few common methods for dealing with phobias, like Cynophobia. Let’s take a look at what these are.

Systematic Desensitization Therapy

This is a combination of imagined situations and relaxation techniques. Typically in a controlled environment (ie. A therapist’s office) the sufferer will be instructed to visualize a threatening situation. In this case, it would be visualizing being in the same room as a dog. During this visualization time the therapists will pay close attention to the patient’s anxiety level.

The therapist will work with the sufferer in a coaching routine of breathing and relaxation techniques. This will help to reduce their normal level of anxiety. These sessions will continue to be imagined until the imagined situation no longer provokes anxiety and fear in the sufferer.

Exposure / In Vivo Therapy

therapy sessionThis is one of the most effective forms of treatment for Cynophobia. Its method lies in repeat exposure with the actual stimuli until the patient becomes desensitized. A typical session would include having a dog present in the room with the phobia sufferer. The therapist will bring in another individual who doesn’t have Cynophobia to show the sufferer how they interact with the dog.

It’s thought that through seeing the actual scenarios, a person interacting with a dog, the patient will be able to realize that their fear, typically of being bitten, is somewhat irrational and not a usual occurrence. This type of therapy takes multiple sessions and numerous interactions with the phobia trigger, a dog, to help the patient restructure it’s expected interaction with any dog.

Self-Help Treatment

For some, Cynophobia is not something they really want to tell others they have. Because sufferers know this is an irrational fear, they may not want to tell others about this phobia for fear of being laughed at or something else. This is where self-help programs can help.

Choosing a good self-help program will allow you to do a few things. First, it will help you understand why you developed your phobia. More specifically, it will help you to identify your personal causes of fear. Once you understand the causes, the self-help program will walk you through step-by-step of the things you need to do to overcome your phobias.

This is the Best Self-Help Program we have found.