- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; First edition (June 24, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 054723774X
- ISBN-13: 978-0547237749
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,433,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman's 7 Steps to Lifelong Health and Happiness for Your BestFriend Paperback – June 24, 2009
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Sometimes, an animal communicator can help to assuage a conflict, ease an anxiety, or curb a bad habit by discovering exactly why the dog is doing what he's doing, from his perspective, and that "direct from the source" input can often be extremely helpful in restoring a sense of normalcy.
But for the chronic offenders, it can be useful to consult an animal behaviorist, and Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University's Cummings School, is one of the best.
One of the most important contributions of his new book, "The Well-Adjusted Dog," is that it dispels prevalent myths and misconceptions about what works and doesn't work to curtail unwanted or destructive behavior patterns. Dr. Dodman's philosophy is simple and straightfoward:
"Your job as a dog owner is to try to understand your dog's life from his point of view, and to lead and protect, not to dominate, punish, and force a dog into submission. . .Real leaders do not dominate; they listen, think, and often defer. Real leaders do not intimidate; they instill confidence. . .
"The human-companion animal bond is not forged through the metal of the choke chain or prong collar but rather through mutual trust and respect."
Even compassionate, well-intentioned, and experienced canine caretakers may be astonished to learn that some of their assumptions about what their dog requires for nutrition, exercise and training are just plain wrong. For example, the amount of exercise a dog really needs may really blow your mind. Let's just say that a stroll around the block twice a day isn't enough.
When it comes to dogs who display territorial aggression, Dr. Dodman's pioneering research has been able to prove that there is a direct correlation between the amount of protein in a dog's diet and his tendency to lash out. In his controlled study, there was a demonstrable reduction in aggressive behavior when dogs were fed a low-protein (17%) diet:
"Territorial aggression was significantly reduced on the lower-protein diets. The decrease in aggression was almost linear when plotted against protein level--less protein equaled less aggression and the finding was statistically significant. A subset of territorially aggressive dogs motivated by fear or anxiety responded particularly well."
There are excellent chapters on "The Fearful Dog" ("The first rule of desensitization is not to expose the dog to whatever he fears"), "Environmental Enrichment" ("The worst-case scenario for a dog is to be raised alone and live alone"), and "Healing Potions" (When pharmacological intervention becomes the last resort).
You may disagree with some of Dr. Dodman's prescriptions (he's skeptical about the efficacy of Rescue Remedy, for example), but all in all, The Well-Adjusted Dog is a practical, compelling set of recommendations for anyone who puts a premium on her dog's well-being, and I'm glad it's part of my library.
I will say however, that if your dog is suffering with any ailment that suggest he may need behavior-modification drugs, there is an extensive chapter describing the drugs, their uses and alternatives.
Some of his leadership methods are good, some not so good. He recommends starving a dog, if he doesn't immediately comply to a command.