Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dr. Nicholas Dodman

In the early 90s, a book came out that changed my life.  I think it was even before I finished graduate school (soooo long ago!).   Originally, I wanted to be a film director and went to film school.  Then I changed my mind and decided I wanted to train dogs for film, so I started on that path.  The book that changed that path was "The Dog who Loved too Much" by Dr. Nicholas Dodman.  He is a veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University.  Back then there wasn't a whole lot of research in psychopharmocology of dogs, but Dr. Dodman was pioneering the effort.  He was also delving in to the un-chartered waters of diet/nutrition and how it effects behavior.

In March of this year, I had the giddy pleasure of meeting Dr. Dodman at a seminar in San Diego.  Dr. Dodman's behavior cohort, Dr. Ian Dunbar, and he gave a 3 day lecture series on dog behavior, among many other things.   I was smart enough to remember to bring 2 books with me, both written by Dr. Dodman- one was my dog-eared, highlighted, water stained, and faded "The Dog who Loved too Much" and the other was his new book, "The Well-Adjusted Dog".   During a break in all the action, I asked him to sign my books, and he did!  I swear it was like I was a teenager and meeting Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran in 1985 ( I didnt, but back then he was my favorite)- I could barely even open my mouth to thank him I was so gobsmacked.  I came home with a perma-grin on my face, and memories to last my entire life.  Of course, some of those memories were because of Laura Brody, my good friend, business associate, and frequent travel partner, but I digress.

For this blog post, I'd like to share a few excerpts from "The Well-Adjusted Dog" (hopefully I won't get sued), because it too has added to my knowledge, education, and experience tremendously.  These excerpts really get to the point of what I try to do every day- change dog/owner relationships and behavior.

Excerpt #1:
"A dog's lifestyle, daily routine, and interactions will, to a large extent, determine how he feels and how he behaves.  When behavior is out of kilter, it is important to address the bigger picture rather than try to suppress the symptoms of an underlying problem."

Excerpt #2:
"Real leaders in the human world, as in the dog world, do not have to resort to physical measures to get their point across.  Real leaders do not dominate; they listen, think and often defer.  Real leaders do not intimidate; they instill confidence.  People follow real leaders not because they have to but because they want to.   The human-companion animal bond is not forged through the metal of a choke chain or prong collar, but rather through mutual respect and trust."

Excerpt #3
"...some 4 million dogs are surrendered to shelters annually, predominantly for behavioral reasons, and over HALF of them are subsequently euthanized.  Most of the behaviors that lead to dogs' relinquishment arise through no fault of the dog's and are, in fact, normal canine behaviors that owners cannot properly control or redirect.  It is breeders' and owners' failure to understand what it takes to raise, care for, and communicate with dogs that underlies many potentially avoidable canine behavior problems."

How do you like them kibbles?  :)

Thank you, Dr, Dodman, for effecting and changing my life in so many positive ways.

No comments: