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) based on exposure therapy using a live dog. This book provides an easy to understand tool for parents 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. This book helps parents understand how and why their child is afraid of dogs and most importantly how to help their child face the fear and overcome it.
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. Mindfulness and relaxation exercises are included in the book to help this develop. Anxiety and fear create the feeling of being out of control. My method helps kids feel in control and "take back the leash" when interacting with dogs.
Most children do not outgrow this fear and they need to have supervised brief and positive experiences with dogs in order to feel safe and in control when interacting with them. Dogs are everywhere these days and it is impossible to avoid them. Kids who are afraid of dogs suffer socially and emotionally. They avoid sleepovers and play dates where a dog is in residence. They often refuse to go to a park in case they might encounter a dog . Some children will even endanger themselves by running into the street to avoid a dog.
Children are afraid of things they don't understand and this book provides education for parents and children about dogs. The book includes information on how dogs communicate as well as how to "read" dogs and know when it is safe to interact with them and when it is best to stay away. 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 be used with older children and adults.
About the Author
Stefani M. Cohen - As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I specialize in parenting, child development and mental health. When my own daughter was afraid of dogs I used my skills as a therapist and dog lover to help her overcome her fear. I developed the Overcoming Fear of Dogs (OFOD) protocol as a result of seeing her suffer as well as experiencing firsthand the challenges this fear caused our family. I have been successfully using this protocol for over 30 years to help children feel safe and comfortable around dogs. I live in New Rochelle, NY with my husband and dog, Fozzie. I have three grandchildren who I'm delighted to say love dogs! For more information please visit Stefanicohen.com or Kidsfearofdogs.com
Cathy Malkin - For over 25 years Cathy has educated people of all ages about being kind and responsible to animals. As a Humane Educator she teaches responsible pet care and safety around dogs. Cathy is also an Animal Reiki Teacher/Practitioner and holds a Masters in Counseling and Education. Cathy currently lives in Martinez, CA with her two cats, Mona Marie and Elvis and her dog, Bodhi Bear. To learn more about Cathy and her practice, visit animalmuse.com. All species welcome!