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Dog Phobia

Dear Sam,

I have always been scared of dogs. I run when they are near and they chase me. I have been injured by a dog chasing me but not by the actual dog. I just have an impulse to run and can’t stop myself. People make fun of me because I am scared of what most of them live with. Do you have any advice on how to stop this fight of flight reaction because I always pick flight.

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Sam

Hi there,

A phobia is a strong fear of a specific thing or situation and is often something that people are always afraid of. A phobia can create a state of panic and make someone feel anxious. Sometimes people might feel scared from seeing a picture of or even imagining their phobia.

Some phobias might not affect us very much if we don’t have to face them very often. Someone with a fear of snakes doesn’t have to see many of those in the UK so their phobia doesn’t affect day to day life. A phobia can have a very big impact on a person’s life if it’s something common – like dogs.

People with phobia’s can have physical reactions to their fear, like feeling hot or cold, anxiety and panic attacks, having an increased heartbeat and rapid breathing and feeling shaky. To stop these feelings people often avoid the object or situation. Sometimes that’s not always possible and it can start to have an effect on things like your social life or general happiness.

There are things people can do to try and overcome phobias. You can try to get used to the thing you’re afraid of in small steps and in ways that feel safe for you.  You could start by looking at pictures of dogs before watching videos of them. Eventually you could try looking at a real dog on a lead behind a window. After a while you  may feel able to pat it or stand next to it. This could take some time. The important thing is to take small steps and don’t move onto the next one until you’re comfortable.

It can be upsetting or frustrating when you have a phobia and other people don’t seem to understand how scared, stressed or anxious it makes you feel. It might be good to talk to people you trust and explain how it makes you feel so they can try and understand your phobia better. If someone is finding it difficult to understand your fear, try asking them to talk about something they’re afraid of and seeing what you have in common.

It might also be helpful to check out the message boards about phobias on the Childline website. If you would like to talk more, a Childline counsellor is always there to listen and support you.

Take care for now.

Sam

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