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    What are ways to overcome fear of dogs?

    Everything could be going well but when I see a dog my mind freezes and overtaken by fear.

    Example: It can be a nice day outside and I decide to go for a walk.   On the walk I see someone coming up with a dog.  Although I move over I am completely taken over by fear and it can ruin the entire walk I just took to refresh.

    Another Example: I was on a road trip and at a rest area I couldn’t get out of the car cause there was a dog in the parking lot although it was on a leash. Any ideas would be helpful. Thank you!!🙏

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    Sounds like a terrifying experience.

    I wonder if your intense fear is because of a past trauma or different reasons. I would imagine different approaches would work, like CBT, trauma work, exposure therapy etc.

    I am afraid of dogs, too, but don’t have a total freeze response. I’ll cross the street or move over when I see one… It can lead to socially uncomfortable situations where the dog owner perceives me as rude for seeing their pet as a threat:(

    For laughs, a couple of years ago I was on a winded waterfall-mountain-path kinda thing. A huge dog came towards me with its owner. Huge. Really huge. Like a pony. Hanging tongue, very malicious looking. I had two choices: climb up the straight rock wall to my right, or jump to my death towards the waterfall on the left. I chose the third option;) Stayed right where I was, held my breath, and let it pass me. It was just as terrifying as it was comical (for my friends to watch).

    Anyhoo, I personally haven’t really tackled this issue yet, so no insight here. I did notice though that it gets easier when I have positive associations with my fear. For example, watching my friend pet the puppies I am afraid of, allows me to see that there is a gentle, positive side to them, and they are not REALLY the beasts I am afraid of.

    Hope you can find a way to help yourself with this! Keep us posted!!

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    Avi Benmordechai

    Hello, thanks for your question.

    This is one of those questions I get asked pretty frequently in my therapy practice from children/adults trying to overcome their fear/phobia of animals, particularly dogs. You are definitely not alone!

    In my experience, exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to help children, teens and adults to overcome this particular challenge.

    This is the important part!

    Let’s talk about safety. As an example, If you live in a building and have a neighbor who let’s his small “cute” white-fluffy-dog off the leash and tells you to “calm down” and not worry because his dog won’t hurt you, that’s NOT ok. Its not ok for him to do that. Or if you go into an elevator and the dog comes right next to you and starts to sniff you, that’s not ok either, if it is done without your consent. Use your voice. Try saying this in an assertive tone: “please put your dog on a leash, I am uncomfortable.” If it persists, don’t hesitate to get management involved. When dealing with anxiety, many tend to freeze up as a response and forget they have a voice. Learning assertive communication and boundary setting can help you feel empowered.

    In a situation where the dog is on a leash and close to the owner, perhaps taking a stroll outside on the sidewalk, here’s where the challenge begins.

    It’s simple, but NOT easy!

    Let’s talk about anxiety for a second. Anxiety is the fear of unknow. Anxiety has the ability to create stories in our mind, untrue stories that feel so real.

    As you see the dog, you can start to hear the inner voice in your mind telling you the dog will chase you, bite you, jump on you etc. as a result you start to panic and try to run away. You may ask yourself why that it. Here’s why! Your brains number one job is to protect you. If your brain feels harm is on the way, the appropriate response is to get you back to a safe place, so as a result many people run away.

    Next time you are faced with a dog, who is with it’s owner and on a leash, try this:

    Before you run, take a few seconds to notice your surrounds. Notice that the dog is on a leash. Notice the owner being present. In a quiet voice, here yourself say “I am scared, but I am safe.” Allow yourself to feel scared. Sit with that for a bit. Don’t forget to breathe. Relax your jaw, back and neck. And give yourself some credit for starting this journey of challenging yourself. Repeat as necessary and prolong the time of exposure as you go.

    Sorry to break it to you, there is no quick fix! This will take work. The more exposure you have the easier it will get. It’s ok if you mess up. Refresh and start again. It’s a process.

    There are many more details involved, but in a nutshell this is the process. Please seek professional help if you feel you may need it. This comment is not in place of therapy!

    Best of Luck!

    Avi Benmordechai, LCSW

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    I was afraid of dogs in my younger years.  There was a time when I ran from a dog running in my direction.  While I was running across the street, my shoe fell off, but I kept going till I got to the sidewalk.  Only after the owner called his dog over did I go back for my shoe.

    I wasn’t completely over my fear of dogs till I moved to a new community in 2005, where a number of drum families have dogs.  My therapist convinced me to expose myself to 3 different dogs before our next session and that should help me overcome my fear.  I was able to do so with a little help.  Since then I’ve totally overcome my fears.

    What are ways to overcome fear of dogs? Everything could be going well but when I see a dog my mind freezes and overtaken by fear. Example: It can be a nice day outside and I decide to go for a walk. On the walk I see someone coming up with a dog. Although I move over I am completely taken over by fear and it can ruin the entire walk I just took to refresh. Another Example: I was on a road trip and at a rest area I couldn’t get out of the car cause there was a dog in the parking lot although it was on a leash. Any ideas would be helpful. Thank you!!🙏


    CBT/ Exposure therapy will likely help you overcome your fear of dogs fairly quickly.

    Good luck!



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    I feel I should put this out there because there IS a way to help process fears and phobias using EFT( emotional freedom technique)

    Im certified and have helped many people do the things they once feared calmly if they wished, or just be calm and ok with it. Either way they didnt believe it will work and it Did BH!

    For example, 1 client feared  boats and beaches and BH  after 1 hour we cleared that!  She then went on vacation and enjoyed it. Her family member didnt believe that she wasnt scared! Its POSSIBLE!

    You can try tapping with EFT basic recipe or reach out to certified trained practitioners that can help You along! By finding the pattern that keeps You from being calm in different situation that brings a person  into fight/flight mode There is healing!

    BH Im grateful for this gift and for being able to share on this forum, Hashem put it here for Us!

    All the best! Giten Chodesh to all!


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    I have dealt with this for many years so I am happy someone brought it up.

    and yes, same!!! I can be scared even if the dog isn’t super

    I still am overtaken by this fear so I don’t have any advice just validation because I know how hard this is!!! 🙁

    Dear TN1183,

    I’m so glad you brought this up. It can be a paralyzing fear, and especially if you live in the city or an area with lots of dogs, super inconvenient!

    As I’m sure you are aware, the clinical definition of phobia is a fear and avoidance that is elicited by a specific, limited stimuli, i.e. animals, nature, blood, vomiting, AND the fear is ‘out of proportion’ to the actual threat or danger.

    As an EMDR specialist, I work with people with phobias all the time. If you are targeting this specific fear, you can usually desensitize it in very few sessions. People have done amazing work with EMDR and dog phobia, and even (believe it or not!) surprise themselves with their fondness of dogs after a while!

    There is lots of powerful research around EMDR therapy for specific fears and phobias. Feel free to email me if you’d like some background understanding of this common phobia.

    On a side note, I was once at an event where a speaker said that she’d been in an elevator at age 8 and it had stalled for a few minutes. This created such fear that she avoided going in elevators for 30 years! It was only after she did some sessions of EMDR that she was able to easily go into elevators again. My heart sank…..30 years is a long time to suffer!

    Wishing you much hatzlacha in your journey,

    Zipa Leah Scheinberg

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    having strong phobias is so so hard, so upsetting, so challenging, so painful and may Hashem heal you from it,

    I’ll share with you something very powerful from one of Rabbi Ashears Living Emuna Books,

    it is not hard for Hashem to prevent you from encountering a, dog (take away the dog) and we know that

    and in the same way, it is not any harder for Hashem to take away your fear of dogs, to diminish it, give you the strength to fight it and manage it, or even to take the fear away completely, (yes it doesn’t seem believable but these are all possible!)

    to Hashem, its all the same, and it is not a bigger thing to ask, it is not too much to ask, just as i can daven for there to be no dogs at the park, i can also daven for Hashem to give me strength to deal with the fear if there is a dog, and to diminish my fear, 

    this is so powerful

    this was a life-changing powerful lesson for me, and i hope it gives ou chizuk too.

    exposure therapy = done properly and responsibly by a responsible, caring and competent therapist,

    can do wonders,

    it is amazing , check it out and hatzlacha

    I personally haven’t done EMDR for fears  but have heard great things about it too

    there is a very good treatment center called rogers behavioral health, there are a few around the country, i only recommend the outpatient php program (NOT the residential)

    the php program is really good- experiences vary, but for many the results are astounding, you need to have support from an outside therapist also though, who can be involved with the therapy you’re getting there (i’m telling from experience, the help i got was amazing, and unbelievable chasdei Hashem, yet it was also could only have been possible with my outside therapists involvement, making sure things were going right, and getting involved when they weren’t, to make sure i get the best hep possible there BH,)

    they specifically work with anxiety and ocd including phobias

    the difference between a fear and a phobia is that a phobia interferes with your life, its is disruptive, distressing, and dysfunctional – three D’s

    May Hashem remove your fear completely! in a way that you can’t even imagine possible right now, (and these things are possible)

    either way hatzlacha!






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