How to get over your fear of dogs?

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in Pets & Animals by
Me and my sister share an apartment and she has a young daughter. She tells me today that her daughter wants a puppy that she and her cousins can play with. I tell her we can't because of my fear of animals.

I feel bad because her little girl wants a puppy but I am incredibly afraid of animals. Everyone calls me selfish or think it's funny and it took me breaking down and crying for people to really understand my fear of animals. (I don't even visit my mom often because she has a cat.)

I don't know if it's trauma or what but the thought of being around an animal sends me into a paranoia.

4 Answers

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Not sure where that comes from unless it’s from a past life and I’m really not joking. I believe in reincarnation and there have been case studies of people who had phobias about certain things and it turned out that it was because in a previous life they had had problems with those particular things. There are a lot of YouTube videos about actual documented cases of reincarnation. I really think it exists. Of course, a phobia can be caused by a negative experience in this particular lifetime as well.

Other than that I can think of maybe trying hypnotherapy because hypnosis can be a very effective tool for different types of phobias. It’s hard to find hypnotherapists who are covered by people’s health insurance plans; it’s usually something you have to pay for out-of-pocket but it’s just something you might keep in mind. You can even buy self-hypnosis CDs on various subjects and there are YouTube hypnosis videos dealing with various types of issues, maybe there’s one on fear of animals. I’m not sure. Might be worth checking out. Some of them are actually quite good.

I think it’s a phobia you could probably get over if you wanted to expend the effort and the time and maybe some reasonable expense. I guess it depends on how important it is to you. If you were able to overcome it, it might open up a whole new world for you because animals are actually lovely creatures. Dogs can be incredibly affectionate and loyal and have almost human emotions. Cats can be amazingly affectionate as well. But dogs are amazing because you can take them with you everywhere and they become your constant companions. I used to take mine camping and backpacking in the woods all the time when I wanted to get away from people. I was never alone with her. I had her for 16 years. It was like having a child. Then after she died, I became a father and had an actual child. But when that dog died it was one of the worst experiences of my life. You can become incredibly attached to them and vice versa.

My son had a phobia of dogs when he was younger and he phased out of it. Sometimes that happens but sometimes it requires a little bit more work. But it’s certainly doable.

 Just one more thing I can say about dogs that they are incredibly tuned in to body language and other subtleties which we may not pick

up ourselves. Perhaps even biological chemicals that we give off that they can detect with her incredibly good sense of smell who knows?

But I know that if they pick up that a person is nervous around them it can make them nervous sometimes and they may start to bark and act as though they’re being ‘aggressive’ but it’s actually just that they’re a little bit afraid because they see that you’re afraid. So it’s more like being defensive in a way. . If you can remain relaxed around them it makes them feel more relaxed as well. It’s just something you might want to know about. Dogs that do not have behavioral problems will just normally react that way around a person who is nervous with them. It doesn’t mean they’re going to hurt you or that they’re mean or ‘aggressive’ necessarily. It’s just the way they are.

If you know a dog is friendly in fact sometimes a way to make them feel comfortable is to crouch down instead of standing up tall because it makes you look less intimidating and that makes them more comfortable. If you know the dog,  that is, and you know the dog’s not aggressive. Otherwise, you might want to not try that approach in the beginning. But try to remain relaxed. That’s important
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You are not selfish. They are selfish for wanting to force you into a fearful situation.

Also, puppies are cute and fun for children, but they grow up and becomes dogs that need a lot of exercises, so they have to be taken for walks twice a day, summer and winter for the rest of their lives.

Anyone in an apartment should not have a dog unless prepared to spend a lot of time outside with the animal.

I am not afraid of animals and I live in a house, but I would never have a dog because they are too much work, and they are dirty and smelly. Your sister is inconsiderate and not very bright if she wants a dog. Your niece will grow out of it. Buy her a teddy bear.
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I will give you my example. I used to be mortally afraid of dogs - or any other fairly-sized animal for that matter. There is an ulterior reason to this which I am still trying to unravel. Anyway, my fear of dogs was so paramount that I would simply refuse to visit my relatives or friends or neighbours who had a pet dog.

Then a couple of years ago, a family moved right next door to us. They have a she-lab for a pet. The lab, Ginger, is so loved and pampered that she basically does not fear anybody. And labs generally have heaps and heaps of energy. This energy coupled with the general fearlessness, was not something I could digest very well. I was ****-scared of Ginger and I just plain refused to step into the same elevator as her once. I feared being confined in limited space with something that had a booming bark and extremely sharp teeth. Thankfully, neither the family nor the dog took offense to my avoidance.

Once when I was coming home from work and just getting out of the elevator, Ginger cornered me. She was basically waiting for her Dad (my neighbours treated her like a daughter rather than a dog!) to come home from work. At the sound of the elevator, she came running expecting to see him. But when I came out, she didn't know what to do. Her first instinct was to jump up and put her front paws on my chest and lick my face fervently (which is what she does with everyone, even my family). But she also knew that I was out-of-bounds. She was told she couldn't go too near me, because my neighbours knew my fears. So she just stood there between me and my house gate, looking up at me with the saddest-cuttest eyes ever. I passed through keeping my fears under control, but by the time I reached my house gate, she had won me over. I called out to her and she was all over me in a second.

That's how I got over my fear of dogs. That is by far the simplest way to do that. Confront your fear and let a gentle soul bowl you over. Dogs are lovely creatures, they love people and love to be loved just as much. If you get to know a dog well enough, your fears will vanish soon.

Ginger and her family moved away last year, but I visit her every now and then. She still jumps up on me, but knows that licking (or kissing as she would call it if she could talk) is not an option. :)
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You aren't being selfish, THEY are being selfish. Sounds like you have some psychological problem that involves animals, it's bad that it makes you break down and cry. Its nothing bad but they should understand the problem you have, its serious.

In my experience, I have a brother who never treats me as his older sister nor with respect. He sometimes used to hit me (he was obviously stronger especially since he practices boxing) and it's made me gag. I developed depression and anxiety because of him, whenever I'm alone with him, I break down crying and run out of breathing. I kind of understand your pain...