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

Advice for Parents

Regarding Fear and Phobias: Help your child learn as much about dogs as possible so they will have a better understanding of dog's behavior and feel more in control. 

  • Whenever possible, exposure to well-behaved dogs should begin as soon as possible in a child's life. This will help to build positive experiences to counteract any negative ones that may occur. 
  • Remember: We tend to be afraid of things we don't understand and things we feel we can't control. For many children, dogs fall into this category


Regarding the Importance of Overcoming the Fear of Dogs: Resist the urge to force your kid to face the fear of dogs without consulting the questionnaire in this book and/or professional advice first. You don't want your good intentions to go awry and increase your child's fear and stress. This is a process that takes time and patience. 


Regarding Addressing Your Child's Fear of Dogs: It is important to understand your role as a parent.

  • Parents instinctively want to alleviate their children's fears. However, in order for these exercises to be effective, parents must be able to tolerate their own feelings of discomfort as well as their children's and not rush in to rescue them. 
  • It is important to end your sessions on a positive note, even if your child experiences setbacks during their session. For example, if your child felt comfortable brushing the dog, but then the dog jumped or moved quickly to get a treat from the handler, make sure your child goes back to brush the dog before stopping for the day. 


Regarding How to Interact with Dogs Safely: Education is the key to keeping children safe around dogs. The earlier children learn about dog behavior and how to interact safely with dogs, the safer and more confident they will be around them. 

  • Remember: Not all dogs will be as well-behaved or as gentle as the helper dog that assisted with the OFOD protocol, a fact that your child should be reminded of.
  • It is crucial that children stay calm when interacting with dogs. Behavior such as running, jumping, screaming, tail-grabbing, fur-pulling, etc., will upset, excite, and/or agitate the dog.  
  • When you are around animals, it is important to trust your feelings and intuition, even if they are in contrast to what seems logical. 


Regarding How Dogs Communicate: Always be on the lookout for signs of stress in a dog when it is near or interacting with a child. 

  • Look for a dog's stress behaviors such as yawning or lip-licking as they are a dog's way of saying: "I'm feeling stressed-out, and I want you to stop what you're doing or go away."


Regarding How Children Can Benefit from Relationships with Dogs: Animals can enrich the lives of children in many ways - from strengthening their sense of compassion and empathy to helping them learn responshibility and a reverence for nature. 

  • Having a dog in the home provides structure and routine, as dogs must be fed and walked regularly. This predictability and consistency helps children feel safe and secure. 

Services Offered

In office, on-site, and phone sessions available


- 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 Groups
- Teacher Workshops
- Exploration of Pet-Readiness for Families

Online Presence

Fozzie Says...

"I love helping people with my gentle nature and special smile!"

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© Stefani M. Cohen, LCSW