Though the title may be a little perplexing, this is primarily an animal behavior book—and an animal behavior book par excellence. As director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, Dodman has spent years studying and treating dogs with behavioral problems. His clinic is often the last resort for owners about to have their ``problem'' animals put to sleep. (According to Dodman, one and a half million dogs are euthanized each year because of unacceptable behavior.) Dodman's treatments include many commonly accepted approaches, such as changes in diet, exercise, and environment, as well as obedience training, desensitization, and behavior-modification. But he also often prescribes human psychoactive drugs, such as Prozac and Valium—and that's where his methods diverge from those of many of his colleagues. According to Dodman, dogs are ``prone to mental disturbances similar to the ones that affect people . . . many parallels can be drawn between the behavioral problems exhibited by dogs and equivalent problems exhibited by human beings.'' (A good example cited by Dodman is the similarity between compulsive paw licking by dogs and compulsive hand washing by people.) Dodman has incorporated drug therapy into the treatment of a wide variety of canine behavior problems, such as extreme aggression (as with Rocky, a dominant Rottweiler that bites its meek mistress), fearfulness (Elsa, the dog of the title, a Laborador Retriever mix who suffers from both separation anxiety and anorexia), panic attacks, eliminating in the house, or odd phobias like being afraid of garbage trucks or men in white beards. A well-organized, clearly written (albeit somewhat technical), and useful resource for the owners of problem pooches.
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