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

Animal Models of Human Psychiatric Disorders

For twenty years I have realized that the behavior problems I see in pet animals, especially dogs, are for the most part facsimiles of conditions psychologists and psychiatrists see in people. Human psychiatric conditions are diagnosed with reference to a manual known as the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).


Many of the conditions referred to in there are also seen in a veterinary behaviorist’s caseload. Dogs are presented with mood disorders, anxiety-related conditions, phobias, sleep disorders, impulse control disorders and compulsive disorders. There are some differences, of course. Dogs don’t get substance- related disorders and, as far as we know, do not get bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome or depression. That said, similarities abound and some remind us of our human foibles.



Dogs of Yesteryear

Someone donated a very fine book called “The American Book of the Dog” to our veterinary school. I was the immediate recipient and eagerly unwrapped the anticipated package when it arrived. Edited by G. O. Shields and Published in 1891 by Rand, McNally & Company out of Chicago and New York, this book is a 19th century equivalent of today’s “The Complete Dog Book” put out by the AKC. It is a large brown, leather-bound tome with over 700 gilt-edged pages and many fine full page or text illustrations. It tells of the origin, development, special characteristics, utility breeding, training, points of judging, diseases, and kennel management of “all breeds of dogs” as appreciated almost 120 years ago, the year Thomas Edison patented the motion picture camera and while Queen Victoria of England was on the British throne.


Working Like A Dog (That's a good thing when you love what you do!)

My birthday has come and gone (Jan 29th). I am now a year older and looking at the big 65. How time flies when you’re having fun.


New York Times And More

I know I keep going on about this but, in case you didn’t all know, a can be a little obsessive and compulsive myself!  It’s an occupational hazard of academia. Anyhow, I thought I would send on the well-written link to a NYT article about our gene discovery because the writer makes the point way better than I ever could.  Maybe this will be more intelligible than my ramblings…


I know this second link may be a bit on the heavy side but some may enjoy and perhaps even appreciate our latest contribution (link below) about a new treatment for HUMAN obsessive-compulsive disorder that Dr Louis Shuster and I developed here at Tufts as a result of our findings in ANIMALS (including dogs).


“Inside a dog’s brain it’s too dark to read” … no more.

I hate to go on about our flank/blanket sucking Doberman study (not really) but it’s getting really fascinating and taking us to new heights in terms of studying behavior, so I thought I would share.

Most of us are involved in dealing with a behavior we see on the outside – the so-called phenotype.  Training involves modifying phenotypic expression.  In science, we are taught to report what we actually see … and no more.  It is taboo to interpret what goes on within. “After all,” they say, “a dog’s thoughts and emotions (if indeed they exist) are inaccessible and best left out of the picture.” Not so much these days, I would say.


The Scoop

It’s been a while since I blogged the site so I thought I would put fingers to keyboard and make amends. It has been pretty crazy lately what with clinical work (seeing behavior cases), teaching (clinical teaching and the lecture course coming up), and research (discovery of the gene that causes Dobermans to flank suck, a new treatment for canine compulsive disorder and a sophisticated imaging study (VBM) of Dobermans at Harvard’s McLean Hospital (remember, where “the beautiful mind” was an inmate). All this plus contributing to the newly formed Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, writing books and giving talks and there’s not much time left in the day.


Wanted: Dobies with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

We have just completed a most interesting genetic study of blanket sucking/flank sucking Doberman Pinschers and have found what we think is the gene underlying this behavioral discrepancy. The gene in question expresses itself in areas of the brain known to be affected in OCD in humans and affects processes now thought to be instrumental in propagating OCD.

With delight and surprise, scientists refer to canine compulsive disorders as “models” of the human condition and see them objectively as ripe for study, which they are. But we all know that dogs and people are more alike than different, so to us it comes as no surprise that they have similar psychological issues. Nevertheless, it’s good to have psychiatrists and dog behaviorists on the same page because that way we will get more done for both species.

Nick Dodman & Rusty

The Dodmans Get A New Dog

Last Sunday I was just about to tee off on the first hole at Westborough golf course when my cell phone rang.  “Hello,” my wife, Linda, said, “the children and I are at Bay Path Shelter in Hopkinton and think we have found the perfect dog.”
“That’s great,” I replied, “can we talk about this later when I get home and then we go to see the dog together on Monday?”
“’Fraid not,” Linda replied. “You see, we have to take him now or someone else will. He’s eight months old and really a neat dog. You’ll love him.”
My colleagues were getting impatient that I was on the phone so I had to leave it there.
“I trust you to do the right thing,” I said, “but I must go now. Catch you later.”


Debarking Debacle

Last week I was summoned to the Massachusetts State House to express my opinion and that of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association regarding devocalization of dogs (and cats) for the owners’ convenience. A House bill was pending that would ban this inhumane practice but there were advocates of the procedure there in force (including the MVMA and a breeder known as Cruella Debark, who devocalizes all her dogs).

My main points were that barking by dogs is a normal, natural canine behavior. If you don’t like a dog that barks, get a cat. Also, that barking is a means of communication for dogs and has many different meanings that should be understood and dealt with. Dogs bark because their environment is deprived, because they have inadequate exercise, because they are untrained and because they have issues, like separation anxiety.


Guilty Or Not Guilty?

A recent study purported to show that dogs do not feel guilt
but that so-called guilt is a product of our anthropomorphic imaginations.The dogs were put in a room with their owners and told not to eat a tasty treat.The owners then left the room. Some of the dogs were then offered the treat by one of the researchersbefore the owner returned to the room. The owner was then misinformed as to whether their dog had committed theoffense.  Apparently, there was verylittle connection between the dogs’ guilty look and the disappearance of thetreats.  This study proves that dogowners (people in general) see what they believe to be true as opposed to whatis actually going on.  It isanother example of the so-called placebo effect.  



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