Phobic fear of domestic animals
Many people have a phobia of animals and, on the all of the animals, it’s not surprising that fear of domestic ones such as cats and dogs is the most common, and the most inconvenient, category – with rats and mice quite high on the hate list. Most other animals can be avoided by not attending zoos, circuses, animal parks or sanctuaries.
Fear of domestic animals makes life particularly uncomfortable if you have friends, relatives or neighbours who have pets of which you are phobic.
What do you do? Do you try to avoid visiting them? Or do you ask them to hide their precious little darlings? Or do you go along to them and silently endure your phobic feelings?
Pets are good for children – they can teach them lots about responsibility, about give-and-take, about sharing affection, about personal space, and even about love. But your dilemma is: what do you do when you are fearful of the kind of creature they want as a pet?
Your (prospective) partner
Just as we do not choose our partner’s friends or relatives we do not choose their pets. And because they love them our partner expects us to love and get on great with his/her pets. ‘Love me – love my dog’ as the song suggests!
Phobia or rational fear?
Animals, especially rats and dogs, do pose a risk however slight this may be. So a degree of caution is worthwhile and people who do not have a phobia recognise this.
However to be unable to walk on the same pavement as an approaching dog or to be unable to be in the same room as a cat is not rational. Nor is it very good for one’s self esteem.
Dissolving the phobic part of the fear and replacing this with normal concern for safety relieves you of the pressure of having to be constantly on your guard. And, curiously, most pets act more responsibly towards you when you do not have a fear of them – because they can smell your phobia, literally.
Seek out a competent therapist to assist you – or do it by yourself by checking out our pages on dissolving phobias.
The fear of their pets!
I love animals – though not always their owners. The pets are doing what they naturally do. Or doing what their unnatural lifestyle has led them to do. Their owners often seem unable to control them so that they can fit into the world of humans.
Why is it that a cat seems to know just who among the guests is afraid of cats – and then proceeds to attempt to sleep on your lap? Or crawl onto the back of the settee you’re sitting on to catch your hair in its claws? Or brush lovingly against your leg?
Or that a mouse – which is normally so timid as to be invisible to the general population – will suddenly appear in the room when you are quite alone and proceed to watch you with unblinking eyes?
‘Don’t worry – he’s only playing with you!’
Of course even if you carefully select your friends so that you have none who keep animals (i.e. animals that you don’t like) you’re not out of the woods yet.
Dogs are everywhere. Wherever you go. If you go jogging, walk on the pavement, go to the beach or park, or even travel on public transport you’re likely to attract their attention – especially if you’re phobic of dogs.
And should you shrink back or, worse, kick out to try and protect your limbs from being chewed by the drooling jaw, the outraged owner will shout a warning to not frighten or injure poor Fido….
“Oh, he’s only playing – he wouldn’t hurt a soul!!” As if they expect you to wait to see if a chunk disappears from your calf before you decide whether or not to protect yourself.
The final irony? After Fido has managed to avoid your flailing arms and legs and nipped you? “Well, if you hadn’t irritated him he wouldn’t have touched you – you scared him and he was only acting naturally!”
It’s not the pet – it’s the owner
Of course all of this is quite unfair to the majority of pets. Like children and their parents, the dogs are conditioned by their ‘owners’ and their behaviour reflects their treatment and their training.
If, like me, you like animals you will recognise that the above comments are a reflection on an influential minority of thoughtless owners rather than on the animals themselves.