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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?
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!
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.