Honesty: 1, Reassurance: 0
My daughter was getting picked up for a sleepover and 2 other girls were in her room with her while she packed. One of the girls was really nervous about dogs, and Ripley the new dog of course wanted to get as close as possible and cuddle. (Not the ideal house to visit for the canine-phobic.)
I was in with them and doing my best to keep everyone separate. Ripley was trying her best in dog-body-language to roll around on her back and send the message “play!!!!” and just generally be cute, and it was still apparently terrifying, and of course the more she was ignored the harder she tried. I explained what Ripley was doing, and while I was holding her back, I asked, “Well, what do you think she might do to you?”
Turns out she was mostly scared of getting scratched – totally fair. The other girl offered, “Maybe she thinks she’s going to eat her.” My daughter said, “No, no. These dogs don’t eat people. Unless maybe they were dead.” The other friend considered it for a second and said, “Yeah, maybe if they were dead, then they might eat them. Not people who are alive.” They weren’t trying to scare the other girl more, they were simply trying to be as honest and complete as they could be.
This wasn’t helping the scared girl at all, so I tried to change the subject. I said, “Well, luckily we’re all out of dead people. I’ll have to get some at the store when I go next time.” My daughter rolled her eyes and said, “You don’t get dead people at a store. It’s like if you had a dog and you died and nobody else was there, then it would eat you.” Then she gave me an eye-rolling ‘duh’ look.
So now one girl’s got even more to be scared of than ever, and these other two girls are way less delicate than someone that age has any right to be.