A Book Every Pet Owner Should Read
Does your dog misbehave? Mine do, most do, but sometimes behavior problems are serious. Dr. Nicholas Dodman dedicated his career to discovering the cause of behavioral problems and it may not be what you think. Dr. Dodman’s illuminating book, “Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry” is entertaining and educational. Thousands of dogs are euthanized every year due to bad behavior. Dr. Dodman undertakes to save lives by showing that many behavioral problems can be medically treated.
Dr. Dodman addresses common issues such as fear, aggression, spinning, and guarding. Depression, epilepsy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, PTSD, and autism, are not just human conditions, they afflict our pets as well. Dr. Dodman emphasizes similarities between animals and people, which he calls One Medicine. When he finds behavior in an animal he does not understand, he looks at the same behavior in humans to see how it was treated. As a result he has successfully treated many animals using various methods, including medication such as Prozac. Humans and dogs have shared pathologies, so he is able to cross the species barrier time and again to use modern medicine for effective treatment. These medicines work and they save lives.
Can you imagine watching your dog crunch a glass and eat it? Me either. But one woman did, until Dr. Dodman was able to diagnosis the dog with nighttime seizures and provide the proper medication. It may be as complicated as uncommon nighttime seizures, or something as simple as a trip to the beach gone wrong. In one case, two dogs were playing at the beach, having a great time, when one dog disappeared. She had gone back to the car and was trembling with fear. They couldn’t find anything wrong with her, there were no wounds, nothing to indicate any trauma, and the other dog was fine, but once safely home, she refused to go outside. Dr. Dodman believed that the dog had been bit by several small flies at the beach, which caused the extreme fear of being outside. He prescribed medication to help her overcome her fears. As she became more confident, he weaned her off the medication entirely.
Those are just two examples of many interesting cases about animals who have been helped by Dr. Dodman. “Pets on the Couch” raises our awareness that our animal’s behavior may warrant a trip to the veterinarian, instead of the dog trainer. The book has many success stories and a few failures, but persistent throughout is that pet parents are determined to help their pets overcome these issues, demonstrating the strength of the bond we enjoy with our pets.