Stefani M. Cohen Licensed Clinical Social Worker Servicing the Tri-State Area
Stefani M. CohenLicensed Clinical Social WorkerServicing the Tri-State Area

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Based on decades of experience as a therapist, parenting coach and mother of a child who was afraid of dogs, I developed the Overcoming Fear of Dogs (OFOD) protocol. This is a step-by-step guide for parents (therapists will find it helpful as well) to help their child overcome the fear of dogs. By using exposure therapy and my specifically designed exercises, parents will gradually increase their child's exposure to a real dog and thereby decrease their child's fear and resistance. 


When a child has a strong fear of dogs it is important to address this fear as soon as possible. There is much to gain when children are able to overcome their fears. They develop self-confidence and self-esteem and feel empowered. Children who face their fears learn coping skills and self-control, two of the biggest predictors of success later in life. In addition, they learn to speak up and ask for help. By using the method in this book children will become more aware of their feelings and learn to express them clearly. My method helps kids feel in control and "take back the leash" when interacting with dogs.


Dogs are everywhere these days and it is impossible to avoid them. Kids who are afraid of dogs suffer socially and emotionally. 

Children are afraid of things they don't understand and this book provides education for parents and children about dogs. My ultimate goal is to enable children to feel comfortable around dogs so their lives aren't disrupted by the fear of them.


While the book is designed for parents of children aged 5-12 my method can also be used with older children and adults.

About Stefani


As a social worker and parenting consultant Stefani has worked with hundreds of families and has over 20 years of experience. Her specialty is working with parents and children from birth to age 10. Some of these children may present with learning differences and special needs while others may be strongwilled or are having difficulty in school and are a challenge for their parents. Many people find it helpful to discuss their parenting concerns in a “judgment free zone” and to be able to have a sounding board. Individual counseling for adults is also available.


In addition to counseling, Stefani provides animal assisted therapy, humane education programs, and helps people overcome their fear of dogs. Fozzie, her canine partner, assists her.

As a child Stefani was fortunate to share her life with dogs, cats, horses and guinea pigs. Stefani enjoys sharing this love of animals with the people she meets. Stefani uses her personal and professional experience in many different ways. It might be helping a family decide if they are ready for a pet or suggesting some rituals to help a grieving family after the death of a beloved pet.

Stefani received a BA in sociology from William Smith College and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from NYU. She is a member of NASW, Association of Professional Humane Educators, and Heart Pet Programs. 




- Specializing in Parenting Children with Special Needs as well as Typically Developing Children
- Play Therapy
- Parent Coaching
- Support Groups


- Overcoming Fear of Dogs
- Pet Loss and Bereavement Counseling
- Classroom Programs Promoting the Human
Animal Bond

- Pet Care Programs for Classroom and Scout Group
- Teacher Workshops
- Exploration of Pet-Readiness for Families


Fozzie loves children, anything having to do with food and helping kids of all ages who are afraid of dogs.


Fozzie is a friendly male Keeshond. The Keeshond is a perfect fit for Stefani's family and her work. 


His breed is originally from the Netherlands where Keeshonden (plural for Keeshond) were bred to be barge dogs. Their nickname is the "Smiling Dutchman" due to the breed's relaxed open mouth "smile" when they are happy and relaxed.

For more information on how to help your child who is afraid of dogs, visit

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© Stefani M. Cohen, LCSW