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How to Overcome a Fear of Dogs in Three Easy Steps

Updated on May 28, 2013
Do you get scared when a dog is running towards you?  You can stop being afraid of dogs by following these simple steps.
Do you get scared when a dog is running towards you? You can stop being afraid of dogs by following these simple steps. | Source

Are You Afraid of Dogs?

I used to be. When I was a little girl, there were two dogs that lived in the neighborhood. Rover liked to play fetch. We used to love throwing balls and sticks for him to fetch. Brownie was a little dog and he did not play fetch. One day, I decided that he should play fetch too, so I tried to wake him up from his sleep and convince him that he should play fetch. He decided to bite my toe instead.

Ever since then, I have been scared of dogs. I would not go to people's houses if I knew they had a dog. I would cross the street to avoid one. I've run away from them, and have frozen in my tracks being barked at by a dog until a car passing by honked the horn and startled us both.

I often wondered, "Why is it always me that has to cross the street? Why don't the people with the dogs cross the street. A human being should have the right of way in walking down a street."

Dogs and Other Animals Can Smell Your Fear

I was told that dogs could smell fear, and that I should stop being afraid. You know what? That made me even more afraid! If they smelled my fear, and they knew it, they could attack me and rip me to pieces. I would be in pain and agony on a hospital bed in a body cast. I would be scarred and marred for life. Even if I couldn't picture the complete extent of the damage, I knew it would be very, very bad.

It is easy to tell people to stop being afraid. How could I stop being afraid of dogs?

I managed to do it, and today, I live with the dog you see at the top of this page. I will outline the steps I took to stop being afraid of dogs, and help you overcome your fear of dogs. These steps are really easy and not complicated at all, but they will take time to go through them. Do not rush through the process, and consider professional therapy if you need it.

It really changes your quality of life for the better when you are not afraid. The freedom in your life to visit whomever you want, whether or not they have a pet, to walk down the street without listening for each dog bark, and to go to a park without wondering when your next encounter with a vicious animal will be is priceless.


The term for fear of dogs is Cynophobia. Animal phobias are the most common of the specific phobias. 36% of patients who seek treatment are afraid of dogs or cats.

Some people experience severe anxiety attacks when they are around dogs, or even when they anticipate being around dogs. Because of the large number of dogs in the United States and around the world, this condition can be especially debilitating.

Why are You Afraid of Dogs?

Step One

Like the man in the video, most people who are afraid of dogs have either witnessed or experienced a bad incident with them. The first step in overcoming your dog phobia is to examine this incident and think about what caused it, and you could have done or not done to prevent it.

Yes, we have seen videos where people are attacked for no good reason, or the clues were so subtle there was no way we would have been able to tell that an attack was coming. But for the most part, we have given the animals a good reason to attack us, and by simply changing our behavior, we can avoid attacks.

This little boy isn't afraid of the puppy who is almost as big as he is. You can stop being afraid as well by following these three steps.
This little boy isn't afraid of the puppy who is almost as big as he is. You can stop being afraid as well by following these three steps. | Source

Realistic Expectations

Step Two

As I mentioned, I saw myself in a body cast, mauled from head to toe. The chances are much greater though, that if I was bitten, it would only be on one part of my body. The second step to stop being afraid of dogs it to think about the consequences realistically.

By actually thinking through the likelihood of the consequences, I can realize that I am picturing the bite to be a much worse than it likely would be. It would be bad, and painful, but by really thinking about it realistically, I could avoid overreacting look at the situation in a calmer fashion.

Besides thinking about the extent of the damage, also consider the probability of being bitten. If you are kind and approach gently, the chances of being bitten are also low. Sure, canines can smell your fear, because that puts them on alert that you may react in a dangerous way. But they can also sense when you are not a threat.

Zeus is friendly and not likely to hurt anyone.
Zeus is friendly and not likely to hurt anyone. | Source

Get to Know Them

Step Three

People who have witnessed a terrible incident tend to avoid situations where they are around animals. As a result, their fear gets a chance to grow. Since they aren't around animals, they don't know how they act, and don't see that most of them are friendly and playful, and aren't out to get them.

The third step to overcoming your fear prejudice is to get to know them. I was lucky enough that this happened naturally for me. My next door neighbor had dogs. I saw them every day in the back yard playing and sleeping. They were not out to get me.

Learn a dog's body language to figure out when a dog is friendly and when he should be left alone so you can stay safe as you interact with dogs.

Over time, I noticed that they understood people, and followed their commands. I saw that, like people, they wanted to be liked. Not only were they were not out to get me, they wanted to please me. I was able to see that dogs were actually fun to be around.

Once you get to know dogs from a distance, from photographs, videos and on the other side of the fence, you will need to get to know them at a closer range. If you know a friend who has a dog, you can ask him to keep the dog on a leash as you get comfortable getting closer and closer to the dog.

What would you do?

If you saw a dog running around outside without a leash or tag, what would you do?

See results

How to Stop Being Scared of Dogs

I'm not sure when or how it actually happened, but I decided to get my own pet. Now, I understand that he is cooped up in the house or yard all day, and taking a walk is a special treat for him. I know that most people who walk by him are not afraid and actually enjoy talking to him and petting him. I know that crossing the street is not a good idea because otherwise you won't get to experience that it is actually possible to walk by a dog and not get bitten.

I was able to stop being afraid of them, and even grow to love them by taking these three simple steps:

  1. considering what caused my fear and thinking through what I did wrong
  2. analyzing my fear and thinking about the situation more realistically, and
  3. getting to know dogs.

Sometimes we can let our imaginations run away from us, and they aren't the big bad monsters we imagine them to be.

Comments: "How to Overcome Your Fear of Dogs in Three Easy Steps"

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    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing your story Sally's Trove. It shows that it is possible to overcome a fear of dogs. I am glad you had Cinnamon (what a lovely name) to help you stop being afraid.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      What wonderful advice! I had been afraid of dogs for most of my adult life...I'd been bitten on the face as a child, when I crawled under my aunt's bed to play with her cocker spaniel. Through the years, I stayed away from dogs, until my cousin brought Cinnamon, a beautiful, gentle Golden, into her family. Cinnamon was so gentle, she wouldn't even catch bugs! When Cinnamon could no longer live with my cousin, she came to live with me. Her easy demeanor made her loved by everyone, including me, and I have to credit her and my dog-loving daughter for helping me get over my fear of dogs.

      Although I am no longer uncomfortable around dogs, I have a healthy respect for the fact that they are dogs and do dog things. For as lovely a lady as Cin was, and for as much as I came to trust her, I'd still never leave her alone with a child, for example.

      Excellent advice. Voted up and other good stuff, and shared.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your comment Deborah, I am sure that the animals see your calm and friendly demeanor and know that you are a sweet and trustworthy person.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      8 years ago from Iowa

      What good advice. My problem with dogs is that I'm not afraid of them at all. I tend to think all dogs will be friendly and nice and I'm sure that will lead me to someday being bit by one that's not so nice!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thanks teaches12345, my sister's cats tend to hang around me too since I am allergic to them. I think they are just trying to say "Why don't you like me? I haven't done anything wrong." It probably was an incident, but even if it wasn't, sometimes if you just stay away, then you wind up building up a big incorrect view of them. They aren't the monsters we make them out to be.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      My father-in-law has a fear of dogs and it seems that they know it. He has been chased by dogs, even friendly ones! I don't know why he does not like them, maybe something from his past. Great tips here and voted up.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you Aurelio. I am glad that you have been able to avoid a fear of dogs.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I do have some phobias but do love dogs. I can see where this hub would be helpful to have that particular fear. So I'm voting his Up and Useful.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you nanderson500, I am glad you avoided being afraid of them by being around them. My family members didn't really care for dogs, so I didn't learn to lose my fear of them until later in life.

      Thank you Natashalh, Zeus used to bark at everyone who was afraid. I'm not sure if he was saying "Don't be afraid, I'm safe" or "I smell your adrenalin, you'd better not hurt Shasta!". Either way, I trained him to ignore them now, so I think it must be the first thing since he doesn't even eye them suspiciously now.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you Janine, I think if I had been forced to get to know dogs earlier in my life, it wouldn't have taken so long for me to appreciate them.

      Thank you ignugent17, I think it is a good idea to continue to be cautious around dogs, as you are around people. You don't want to make them mad, but keep everything in perspective.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you B A N K A I guy, getting to know dogs is a great way to know how wonderful they really are.

      Thank you moonlake, how awful to see a puppy killed! I hope you can build up your courage to go to your friend's house, and hopefully she is courteous enough to keep the dogs out of biting range so you can get to know whether the pit bull is trustworthy and feel more comfortable.

    • Natashalh profile image


      8 years ago from Hawaii

      Oh yeah they can tell when you're afraid! I can see my dogs react when they sense some is afraid of them because they know they can control the situation.

    • nanderson500 profile image


      8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great article, I was bitten by a dog when I was a little kid but my family and lots of people I know have dogs, so that kept me from being afraid of them.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting and useful. We always have pet dogs but I am still afraid of dogs. I was chased once by our neighbors dogs and I cannot forget it. I love our pet dogs and I play with them. But I just did not develop trust in them. I am always cautious. Thanks for sharing this. Voted up and more. :-)

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      8 years ago from New York, New York

      Very good hub article. Seriously, I loved dogs as a kid and I too had one bad experience with my neighbor's dog and was afraid until my late teens of large dogs. My high school boyfriend had 2 large dogs and I was kind of forced to get to know them and realized that my fear was a bit illogical to be afraid of all dogs. Once I put that into its proper perspective have really been fine with all kinds of dogs, including my in-laws two large dogs. So I truly do agree with the main idea of your article here and very nicely done. Have voted up, shared and tweeted too!!

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      I'm glad you put this up. I love dogs and have dogs but I fear dogs. As a child I saw a Boxer kill my puppy in front of my eyes. I had a friend with German Shepherd that came after me when he had a chance. She was like all dog owners that refuse to put their dogs away when company is there. One day I slammed the door to my car just in time. The dog hit his head on my car door. I never went back for a visit.

      Tomorrow I have to go to a friend's house that has her daughter's pit bull staying with her and I can already feel the fear building up. Voted uP on your hub.

    • profile image

      B A N K A I guy 

      8 years ago

      Great hub! I remember that at one point in my life I couldn't go near dogs, however I got over by (as you said) getting to know them!


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