In this counseling answer:
“Usually, fear develops when we have been a victim of a scary situation with the object causing us fear. Or if we have seen someone being the victim in the past. Or if we have been told during our childhood to keep away from the object causing us fear.
To eliminate the fear, you do not necessarily have to befriend a dog per say. However, you do need to rationalize the fear. You can read a couple of techniques below.”
Thank you for placing your trust in our ability to propose a potential solution to your current situation.
Fear of dogs, Cynophobia, is quite common in individuals who have not really lived with pets during their childhood and who are not willing to easily trust any domestic animal. However, it is not as common as Zoophobia, the fear of any animal, or the fear of spiders and snakes.
Usually, fear develops when we have been a victim of a scary situation with the object causing us fear. Or if we have seen someone being the victim in the past. Or if we have been told during our childhood to keep away from the object causing us fear. But then again, no matter what the cause, the solution is always there to eliminate the fear.
Like you mentioned yourself, the fear itself is not really the result of awareness of potential danger from the dogs, but just a fear nonetheless. This is common for the majority of the fears that we experience. They are the result of our imagination of things that can go wrong.
To eliminate the fear, you do not necessarily have to befriend a dog per say. However, you do need to rationalize the fear. You mentioned that the dogs do not pose potential harm and are usually minding their business. So, you need to distract your mind from thinking about them when you go out for prayer.
Understand there is a way to overcome this fear. While it is possible to overcome your fear of dogs, keep in mind that you need to be patient. It won’t go away immediately. It will take work on your part and some mindful training.
Here are a few steps I suggest you take:
1, Train your mind to eliminate the existence of the danger
Remember, your behavior is a manifestation of your thoughts and intentions. If you keep your thoughts clear of any distraction, then your behavior will not suffer.
When you go out, imagine that there are simply no dogs around you. Even though the dogs pose no threat or danger to you, you fear them. This is because their presence causes you distress. So, why not imagine their absence and keep your thoughts calm?
I realize that it is easier said than done. However, training the mind towards things which are beneficial is the only way to achieve peace and calmness in life. When we let everything around us disturb our internal peace, we will never ever be happy and satisfied. We live in a world which is not in our control. The only thing which is actually ever in our control is how we choose to perceive it and internalize it.
2, Exposure Therapy
After you have learned to imagine that dogs simply exist and hence cannot harm you in any way, you should learn to accept their existence. I suggest this as a second tool because at this stage, you are mentally not fearing their presence. Hence, when you try this, you will not be fearing them at the same level you once did.
For self-help exposure therapy, you can look at images and videos of individuals who have dogs as pets.
For exposure therapy, I suggest that you seek the help of a very cooperative person at home who is agreeable with touching the animal. Ask him/her to pet the animal when you are quite far. Slowly ask him/her to reduce the distance between you and the animal he/she is petting (2m-3m every day).
This will eventually help you realize the lack of danger the exposure to dogs poses.
3, Rationalize your fear –there is a solution to every potential problem
I think that it is safe to assume that when you are on route to the mosque, you imagine being attacked by a dog. This thought perhaps makes you suffer from quite serious wounds as a result of the confrontation, right? If you did not think this, you will certainly not be fearing dogs.
Like you imagine a potentially harmful event, then why not imagining a solution in the case the imagined scenario does take place? For example, if you are being chased by a dog, the chances are that there will be quite a handful of people who will be there to help you.
In addition, if the fear of dogs prevents you from going to the mosque, which is something that is pleasing to Allah, then the distraction is perhaps from Shaitaan. Remember, when something is deterring you away from Allah, then you should try to ignore it and proceed in the direction most pleasing to Allah.
Also, the Prophet said,
“If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” (Abu Dawud)
So, make a habit of reading “Astaghfirullah, I seek forgiveness from Allah” at least 100 times daily.
There are many other supplications as well. For example,
Anas B Malik said, I used to serve the Prophet (ﷺ) and often hear him say: “O Allah, I seek refuge in You from grief and anxiety, from the hardships of debt, and from being overpowered by men.” (Abi Dawud)
Through prayer and patience, I am sure that your fear of dogs will be eliminated. In sha’ Allah, you’ll be anxiety free sooner rather than later.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.