Review: The Dog Who Loved Too Much

The Dog Who Loved Too Much, by Nicholas Dodman

The Dog Who Loved Too Much is the precursor to famed veterinarian Nicholas Dodman’s other book, Dogs Behaving Badly, which I read a few months ago. Overall, the books contain essentially the same information, except that Dogs Behaving Badly is alphabetized by chapter according to behavioral problems.

That said, this book was still interesting to me. I tend to be very behavior/training-heavy in my reading interests, and so it’s nice to get the medical perspective on these issues. While serving as an accomplished and respected vet, Dodman is also a behaviorist on a basic level. He wants to get to the root of each dogs’ problem rather than just throw a handful of expensive pills at them.

I always enjoy reading the bizarre stories he tells about the dogs he’s treated. Dodman alone has convinced me never to consider a bull terrier (not that I would any way). My heart broke over his extended chapter on treating bull terriers, who are commonly plagued by a variety of genetic, behavioral, and psychological disorders (including chronic tail chasing, among others). People are totally responsible for this. It’s a cruel way to practice eugenics. Bull terriers deserve better, but their warped genetic heritage has decreed that they will be perpetually plagued by these disorders.

Books like this start to give me some anecdotal fear, though. German shepherds are almost always featured in these stories about dogs behaving badly. This is probably because they are still one of the most popular dog breeds in America. But then I start to get worried that German shepherds are an inherently problematic breed. I know this isn’t fundamentally true and that every dog, purebred or not, can have a host of psychological problems, but I still get worried. I was also astonished at the sheer number of messed-up English springer spaniels that Dodman has seen. From Dodman’s stories, GSDs and springers seem to be the most common problematic breeds. This is from a purely anecdotal perspective, though, and so I try not to get too anxious about it. Although I am against breed stereotyping, I do wonder what most veterinarians would say if you asked them which breed tended to have the most issues…

Overall, it’s an interesting book and Dodman is a commendable writer and researcher. I think I would recommend Dogs Behaving Badly first, though, since its categorized chapters could be a more helpful behavioral guide.

Review: Dogs Behaving Badly

Dogs Behaving Badly, by Nicholas Dodman

This book was my first foray into a medical perspective on dogs and I found it very helpful and insightful. I imagine I’d reference it myself if my dog was displaying any of the undesirable behavior traits listed in this book.

Dodman is a well-known and widely respected canine authority who leads the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine’s program in animal behavior. I’d love to be able to take a few classes from him sometime, if it were only possible!

I liked Dodman’s use of anecdotes throughout his A-to-Z chapters. The unusual stories from his practice helped illuminate some of his medical explanations for common canine problems.

I didn’t really dislike anything about this book, although it probably wasn’t so helpful to me now, since I don’t have a dog that’s actually exhibiting any of these symptoms or behaviors. I imagine I’d probably pick it up again once I actually get a dog and can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’d recommend this book as a friendly and easy-to-understand guide to behavioral issues in dogs. I hope I’ll be able to recall some of Dodman’s suggestions when the time comes to actually deal with my future dog’s issues.