Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman

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Nicholas H. Dodman

Professor, Section Head and Program Director,
Animal Behavior Department of Clinical Sciences
Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
North Grafton, Massachusetts

Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman is one of the world’s most noted and celebrated veterinary behaviorists. He grew-up in England and trained to be a vet in Scotland. At the age of 26, he became the youngest veterinary faculty member in Britain. It was at that time that Dr. Dodman began specializing in surgery and anesthesiology.

In 1981 Dr. Dodman immigrated to the United States where he became a faculty member of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. Shortly after his arrival, Dr. Dodman became interested in behavioral pharmacology and the field of animal behavior. After spending several years in this area of research, he founded the Animal Behavior Clinic - one of the first of its kind - at Tufts in 1986. He received an additional board certification in animal behavior from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Dr. Dodman began to see clinical cases in 1987 and since 1990; he has devoted all of his time to his specialty practice of animal behavior.

Since the mid 1990s, Dr. Dodman has written four acclaimed bestselling books that have received a tremendous amount of national press. His first book, The Dog Who Loved Too Much (Bantam Books, 1995), was an unqualified success selling more than 100,000 copies as did his second book, The Cat Who Cried for Help (Bantam Books, 1997). His third book, Dogs Behaving Badly (Bantam Books, 1999) was again a bestseller while his latest, If Only They Could Speak (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002) has just been released as a trade paperback.

Dr. Dodman is internationally recognized and sought after as a leader in his field. In addition to his four trade books, he has authored two textbooks and more than 100 articles and contributions to scientific books and journals. He also holds 10 US Patents for various inventions related to the control of animal behavior. Dr. Dodman appears regularly on radio and television including: 20/20, Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The early Show, Dateline, World News with Peter Jennings, Discovery Channel, NOVA, Animal Planet, Fox TV, the BBC and CBC, CNN’s Headline News, Inside Edition, MSNBC, NOVA, NPR’s “Fresh Air” and A&E. He is an ad hoc guest on WBUR’s “Here & Now.” In addition, Dr. Dodman is a columnist for the American Kennel Club’s quarterly publication, AKC Family Dog. This column was nominated as column of the year (2005). Dr Dodman also writes a column for Life Magazine that is read by an estimated twelve million people weekly and recently has agreed to write a column for Martha Stewart’s Body and Soul magazine.

Dr Dodman is editor of a popular press puppy book, Puppy’s First Steps (Houghton Mifflin) which was released in April 2007. He has also recently had a proposal accepted by Houghton Mifflin for a new book about responsible dog ownership. Dr Dodman is a consultant and official spokesman for a new national product, Zero Odor.

Dr Dodman has made a pilot television film of his own – sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States – that is under currently under review by various TV outlets. Good Morning America producer Patty Nager has dubbed Dr Dodman their ad hoc pet behavioral expert.

Dr. Dodman attended Glasgow University Veterinary School in Scotland where he received a BVMS (DVM equivalent). He was a surgical intern at the Glasgow Veterinary School before joining the faculty. He received a Diploma in Veterinary Anesthesia from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Dr. Dodman lives near Tufts University with his wife, Dr. Linda Breitman, a veterinarian who specializes in small animals, and their children.

His website is ThePetDocs.Com

Blog posts by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman

New Year, New Developments

It’s been a while since I checked in so I thought I would write a line or two about current goings on around Tufts. The good news for me is that my next book, which finally has a name – The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman's Seven Steps to Lifelong Health and Happiness for Your Best Friend – is off my desk and off to press. It is scheduled be on the shelves toward the end of June with the formal release date being around July 11th 2008. I got some really good quotes for the back cover from the likes of Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame, Bo Derek, John Gogan (author of Marley and Me), and top psychiatrists Drs Judith Rapoport and John Ratey. As trainer Bash Dibra says about the book, "Finally! A book that deals with the prevention of behavior problems.” Let’s hope the book lives up to all the hype. I sure hope so because I feel this is my best dog book yet.

 

Dog And Pony Show - or, Peace on Earth For All Creatures

A couple of weeks ago I went to Congress along with members of the Animal Welfare Institute, Bo Derek, John Corbett, and Willy Nelson’s Family, to lobby for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, S.311 - a Senate bill to prevent horse slaughter in the US and transport of horses for slaughter across international borders.

 

Designer Genes?

This week I was visited by CBS News who wanted to learn more about our clinic and ongoing studies involving dogs with compulsive disorders. In the center-piece interview, senior correspondent Richard Schlesinger asked me questions about behavior problems we see and quizzed me about animal emotions. Mr. Schlesinger is a dedicated dog owner so there was no tongue-in-cheek going on here – he just wanted me to explain the evidence to viewers. Then we got on to the main subject - where we were at with our genetic research on canine obsessive-compulsive disorder (ocd).

 

When the Chips are Down - are Microchips Hazardous to your Dog’s Health?

I was sitting having brunch with my family last Sunday when my cell rang. On the other end of the line was a producer from ABC’s Good Morning America. She told me excitedly about a hot-off-the-press AP article claiming that microchips were potentially cancer-causing and asked me if I would be prepared to comment on camera. I tried to pass the buck this time because oncology is not my area of expertise, but she insisted. (I don’t think anyone else was available at the weekend). I was to be the token vet.  I agreed to comment if she sent me the AP article and, if possible, the original research articles that led to the contention. She agreed and I had all of 3 hours to get home, read up on the subject, and set up my living room for the arrival of the film crew.

 

Not Every Cape Has (or needs) A Silver Lining

It is now mid-summer and heat, humidity, and thunderstorms are rolling through our region. This is not the best time for dogs – particularly those with thunderstorm phobia. But what is it about thunderstorms that bothers storm phobic dogs so much and why is it so hard to persuade many of them that the sky is not falling?

The obvious answer to the first part of this question is sound – the sound of thunder – but whether fear of thunder is the primary reinforcer of storm phobia or a secondary one is not absolutely clear. Other events that occur during storms - lightning, darkening skies, wind noise, rain, changes in barometric pressure and changes in static electric fields - are also involved in storm phobia. Clearly storm phobia is, or at least becomes, a composite fear – which is why desensitization to the sound of thunder by means of tape recordings usually doesn’t work.

 

FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD – ANIMAL FARM

The fact that NFL player, Michael Vick, is being indicted by a Federal grand jury in connection with illegal dog fighting that took place on his property has focused my attention once more on this barbaric and inhumane practice.

I find it absolutely stunning that some 20,000 to 40,000 people each year participate in dog fighting in the United States. What is wrong with these people that they can revel in seeing one dog maimed or killed by another? I think that people who indulge in and enjoy dog fighting are the scum of the earth. They breed dogs to be aggressive and not submit, and the methods they use to hone the dogs’ fighting skills are torturous and barbaric. How could anyone watch let alone enjoy a fight in which dogs are maimed or killed beats me.

 

In Search of the Truth

Canine behavioral problems are believed by some authorities to be associated with hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels). For example, in a study involving 1500 dogs with behavior problems, 62% of them had low or low-normal thyroid function. While the mechanism by which low thyroid levels contribute to aggression is not entirely clear, it has been suggested that hypothyroidism leads to low or unstable levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a brain chemical associated with mood, attention, emotion and sleep. Another possible mechanism could be that the stress hormone cortisol is increased in hypothyroid animals, mimicking a stress-like state.

 

Who Needs An Apple A Day To Keep The Doctor Away?

Pets are good company but did you know they're also good medicine? Talk to them and play with them as often as you can and you'll unleash their therapeutic effects.

Pets may actually help us live longer because of the positive impact they have on our health. A study of dog owners in Pretoria suggests that petting and talking to a dog reduces blood pressure and increases the release of feel-good chemicals.

Scientists in Australia report that pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides than their petless peers.

According to one New York-based study, pets cause a 15 percent drop in blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, and dog owners visit their doctor less often and are less likely to require heart medication. Hospitalized patients who receive visits from a trained service dog have been shown to have increased self-esteem and experience less depression than those who do not receive visits.

 

Name Game

Following the recent release of Puppy’s First Steps – The Whole-Dog Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well Behaved Puppy, I have turned my attentions to my next project, a new book for the owners of adult dogs.

While the puppy book helps guide owners from birth to 1 year of age, the next book will take owners from age 1 through the adult years, up to and including old age. The first draft is all but complete and publication is slated for Spring 2008.

But there’s a problem. Neither the publisher, Houghton-Mifflin of Boston, nor I can come up with a suitable title and that’s where I would like some help from readers. But first, I should tell you something about the book.

 

Identity Crisis

This week somebody forwarded me a link to an episode of the Today Show in which host Meredith Vieira and others discussed DNA testing of mixed breed dogs to determine their breed origin. To do this, a cheek swab is taken from the dog and sent to MetaMorphix Inc. in Davis, California. The teaser was Meredith questioning what her own dog, Jasper, had hidden in his genes. Although she was told that he was an Aussie-Poo with papers to prove it, she had her doubts about this and sent a cheek swab off to the lab.

 

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