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Cynophobia is the fear of dogs. This is a condition where a person is stricken with fear whenever in the presence of a dog. Just the sight of a dog's teeth, tail, or fur can already induce fear in the person suffering from this condition. This is a heartbreaking phobia for some people because dogs are man's best friend and it is definitely hard to have a limiting reaction to an animal that should be considered a great companion in life.
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Cynophobia usually develops in a person if they had a traumatic experience with dogs like a dog bite or they were inadvertently pushed by a dog which caused them to fall and hurt themselves. It could either be an attack perpetuated by a dog or just a traumatic experience that involved a dog. The subconscious can form an association between dogs and pain or emotional suffering even if the person knows that there is nothing to fear about all dogs.
Sometimes, though, some people just develop an irrational fear of dogs without any point of origin. They may have an overly active imagination that builds an image of a dog as dangerous and harmful to their person. A strong aversion from dogs with no explanation is not as uncommon as we would all think. Some people just have a strong subconscious that can get away from them sometimes.
Other disorders like panic attacks and anxiety attacks can contribute in the development of Cynophobia. If a person is already suffering from these disorders, it is likely that they can also develop a fear of dogs. Other kinds of phobias can also be associated with Cynophobia so if a person already has an abnormal fear of something else, it is likely that they can also develop a fear of dogs.
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There are several signs for you to tell if someone has Cynophobia. The most obvious thing to watch out for is to observe one's reaction to the presence of dogs. Some people look scared of dogs but it usually depends on the demeanor of the dog or it physical appearance. For people who show fear when faced with any kind of dog, it is a strong sign that they may have Cynophobia. The level of phobia can be determined if the person becomes afraid of a dog if it is right in front of them but not at images of dogs in pictures or in videos. If the person shows fear even at the sight of photos and videos of dogs, it means they may be suffering from a serious and advanced form of this phobia.
If a person just had a traumatic experience that involved a dog, you can observe their behavior around dogs. If it has changed even for just a bit, it may be an indication that Cynophobia may be developing. If that is the case, further observation is needed. It is good to talk to people who are just developing this phobia because there is a higher chance for them to get rid of the phobia early.
You may want to read another interesting Brighthub article about the fear of chickens termed as Alektorophobia.
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Image Credit: Airedale/Wikimedia Commons by Angela Montillon