Visit from Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman

The following article “Ask Dr. Dodman "  by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman was digitally published by the  Center for Canine Behavior Studies,  Inc .  

The following article “Ask Dr. Dodman" by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman was digitally published by the Center for Canine Behavior Studies,  Inc.  

Dr. Dodman continues to offer his incredible knowledge, insight, and expertise in order to help us take better care of our animals. Because of Dr. Dodman’s devoted and diligent determination to help, he has given permission for this information to be used in our blog. His amazing ability to work with our deaf dog, Hogan, created the perfection prescription for our pup to become calmer, less anxious during separation, and more successful in sharing the message of hope. From this success, the book, Hogan’s Hope, was written.

As Dr. Dodman wrote about Hogan’s Hope: A Deaf Hero’s Inspirational Quest for Love Acceptance—”Sit, Read, Enjoy!”


My German shepherd dog is quite an anxious girl, do you recommend any natural calming products in particular that could take the edge off so she can focus more on the training. I am trying to do to help her? Thank you. I’m in the UK.



Many German shepherds do have an anxious trait.  I have reported that several times in various books I have written. To lessen this anxiousness, it is best to ensure that she gets tons of off-leash exercise on a daily basis, a lowish protein diet (not a performance ration!) and that you teach her to trust you and respond to certain action words or phrases. “Sit” or “Down” will keep her from getting into trouble by focusing her mind on obeying you rather than worrying. “Wait,” “Leave it,” or “Come Here” are also useful commands. Being a German shepherd, she should have her thyroid hormone level checked as hypothyroidism is relatively common in the breed. Even low-normal thyroid levels can increase anxiety. Hormone replacement therapy can reduce anxiety in such cases (check with your vet). Natural calming products – like certain amino acids (tryptophan, L-theanine) or herbal products (chamomile) may help. I don’t know the legal situation regarding CBD in the UK but if that was available, it, too, may help. It is advisable to check with your vet before giving such medications because you will need help with the dosing – not to mention possible drug interactions - and it may be a legal requirement anyway. 

-Dr Nicholas H. Dodman

QUESTION: Does your dog make noises when sleeping and look like they are running in their sleep?



1465 dog owners responded to this question with a yes or a no answer. The yes answers (n=1169 or 80% of dogs) of were often accompanied by a description of their dog’s antics while sleeping. Most of these answers were along the lines of “he makes noises while sleeping [whimper/whine/bark] but does not run in his sleep.” Some dogs twitched their facial muscles while others twitched their feet. One or two owners noticed changes in breathing pattern, as I have seen in my own dog Rusty. One observant owner noticed that her dog appears to be running and exhibiting rapid eye movement with his eyes closed during periods of his sleep. Here’s the scoop. We and our dogs dream during rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). During this time – the sleep of the body (with brain activity surging; consolidating memories) – the large anti-gravity muscles of the body are temporarily paralyzed. So, unless we (or our dogs) have a sleep disorder, like REM sleep disorder or REM behavior disorder (RBD), we are not going anywhere. However, fine control muscles, such as one that control eyeball movement facial muscles, digits, and voice are not paralyzed and can still move – demonstrating the essence of the dream. A dog dreaming of chasing a squirrel may make barky, whimpery sounds, may show jerky movements of his feet, and may or may not twitch or wrinkle up his nose. But as our fun questions shows, not many dogs have this level of expression during sleep. In most, it seems, the paralyzing mechanism works well. Only in those dogs who can fight through the paralysis to make abbreviated intention movements do we see running. The vocal mechanisms however, appear less sensitive to the paralysis allowing a decent percentage of dogs to whimper or whine during sleep even if they do not demonstrate any obvious movements.

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