Three Ways To Help Friends Who Are Uncomfortable Around Dogs

You may find it inconceivable that anyone would not simply love your dog. After all, your dog is super friendly and wouldn’t hurt anyone.

But for people who are afraid of dogs, simple reassurance that your dog won’t hurt them is not enough. The technical name for fear of dogs is cynophobia (cyno is from a Greek word that means “dog”). 

A debilitating and deep seated phobia needs to be treated by a professional psychologist who specializes in these issues, but if your friend is simply uncomfortable around dogs, there are a few things you can do to put them at ease:

One – If you have a friend coming over who is fearful of your dog and you are able, let the dog play in the yard while your friend is visiting and assure him or her that you will keep the dog outside for the duration of the visit. If this is not possible, you can use a dog gate to separate your dog from guests.

Two – Show your friend (and your dog) who is boss. Your dog should be already trained in basic obedience. Showing off some of those commands such as “stay” and “sit” can help your friend relax.

Three – If you have a new friend who is coming to your house for the first time, be sure to mention to them that you have a dog and ascertain their comfort level before their arrival. After they arrive at your front door is not the time to discover they are afraid of dogs!

Respecting your friend’s feelings, instead of simply dismissing them as unfounded, will go a long way in helping your friend who is fearful of your dog. Gain their trust by respecting their wishes and do everything you can to make them comfortable when visiting.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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