Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman


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

Food for Thought

A long time ago, in one of my earlier books, I wrote about the possible contribution of dietary (and other) allergy to aggressive behavior. I reported that I had recommended to an owner that she should switch her dog’s food to Nature’s Recipe – a 20% protein ration – to help address its aggressive behavior. Weeks later she called me to thank me profoundly for helping her to appreciate the effect of diet on her dog’s behavior. She said the diet I recommended made her dog so much worse it was barely believable. Apparently, this dog’s skin erupted into inflamed and itchy patches and its aggression became much worse. Then she owner made the connection: her dog was allergic to carrots and (apparently) all Nature’s Recipe rations contain carrots. She switched her dog back to a hypo-allergenic diet and its skin and temperament improved again. She gave me the credit for drawing her attention to the impact of diet on behavior.


Are Some Wheatons Holy Terrorists?

A while back I treated Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier who developed what I called “unilateral aggression,” aggression to one person


A Strange Notion

A short while ago I attended day-long veterinary students’ “Behavior Club” meeting. It was truly something. What a line-up of speakers. As I milled around after the meeting, I struck up a conversation with one of our basic science researchers. A “mouse scientist”, so to speak, she began talking about her murine experiments. “I have just learned that mice can see ultraviolet light”, she said. Now all my experiments will be messed up because I did not allow for that.”

“What do they see in the UV range?” I asked.

“Oh, urine marks,” was the curt reply.

“What,” I exclaimed,” you mean mice see urine marks as well as smell them?”

“Yes, that seems to be the case,” she said dejectedly.

Then we got talking about dogs and cats. What if they could also see in the UV range? Then it struck me. I bet they can. I went digging around on the Internet for evidence to support this crazy notion.

Dr. Nick Dodman

The Problem Poodle And Overly-Silly Setter

Once in a while I get a case that is a really tough nut to crack. It might be a dog with high level aggression and uninhibited bite; it could be a dog that kills other dogs, or an extreme, pharmacologically unresponsive phobia of some sort. Uncontrollable excitement toward other dogs when on leash is not a problem I would typically put in this category, until recently that is.  

The two dogs in question are an Irish setter and a Standard Poodle.  They are both cookie cutter versions of each other so I will center my account on one of them, the Standard Poodle. This poodle is a neutered male and about 2 years old.  I did not believe the level of excitement the dogs was showing toward other dogs until I saw it for myself.  He would strain at the leash, screaming, spinning, jumping, twisting and turning in flat out hysteria and responded to nothing his owners said or did.


Pet Pharm

Today is November 4th, 2010. That date jogged my memory because it is the day that Ian Dunbar and I will feature in "Pet Pharm" a one-hour Canadian national broadcast (CBC).

The two of us are pitted against each other in an anti- versus pro-behavior modifying drug duel. That’s the way TV likes to do things; one says one thing and the other says another. That’s called controversy and it’s good for ratings. In fact, Ian has (rarely) resorted to behavior modifying drugs to treat dogs with certain conditions and has referred (again rarely) some cases to UC Davis, where they may well be prescribed drugs. And although it may come as a surprise to some, I do not always resort to behavior modifying drugs and am a big proponent of positive training, including Ian’s centerpiece training technique, lure and reward.


Good Old Dog

This post is just to let y’all know about a forthcoming book created with input from the faculty of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. The book, called Good old Dog, deals with everything you or your clients would ever need to know about caring for an older dog.

Chapters include Old IS Not a Condition, How to Make Sure You’re Choosing the Right Diet, Protecting Joints Stops Pain, The Price of Aging Gracefully, Might the Changes You are Seeing Be Dementia? End of Life Decisions … and so on.

Did you know that there is no legal meaning for “senior” dog food? Did you know that diets billed as senior may contain more or fewer calories per cup than regular food so your dog may lose or gain weight when switched? Did you know that having rotten teeth can make a dog more irritable and aggressive and that a dental “prophy” can reverse the bad mood? Or how about the fact that doggy Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed down or reversed in some cases?


The Dog Days of Summer

It’s hot here in the Northeast as we find ourselves in steamy July weather, heading into more of the same in August. I’m not complaining, mind you, some like it hot and I’m one of them. It makes it a bit tricky, or should I say sticky, playing golf and walking Rusty, but I would rather have it this way than be out at ten degrees with a thirty mile an hour wind in my face mid-January.




A short while ago, a concerned dog owner, Janet Scott, emailed me about a perplexing situation she found herself in with her dog, Buster. I could tell from the tone of the email that she was deeply concerned so I called her and we spoke for the best part of half an hour. It turns out that she and her husband, Chuck, had adopted Buster, a Cocker spaniel/Lhasa Apso cross, from a rescue operation called Double Dog Rescue (DDR), via volunteer, Shelly Bookwalter. This adoption was not any old adoption as Shelly Bookwalter is budding star with an Animal Planet series called Last Chance Highway. A condition of the adoption was that the process would be filmed – including the Scott’s picking up Buster.



Vote for Rusty

This weekend, I went into a pet store called Especially for Pets in Westborough, Massachusetts along with my wife, Linda, and dog, Rusty. Unbeknownst to us, there was a cutest pet competition photographer there soliciting applicants for the low cost of $25. Well naturally we think Rusty is the cutest pet so we immediately signed up and before too long Rusty was posing on a purple chair for elegant mug shots (see attached photo). I think you will agree that he has a winning smile.



I Love My Job!

It was 10.30am on a recent Monday morning. My plane climbed steeply out of Chicago Midway airport heading for Boston into clear, pale blue skies. Still low, we passed Chicago on the left of the plane and I had a long look at the towering sky scrapers of windy city sitting proudly of the shores of massive Lake Michigan. The almost Caribbean blue waters of the lake stretched to a horizon describing the Earth’s curvature. It was a magnificent and memorable sight.



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