How do I become a dog behaviorist?

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What is a dog behaviorist?


A dog behaviorist and a dog trainer are not one and the same! Dog trainers often work with young dogs, teaching them how to behave. Dog trainers may also work through minor behavioral and major issues a dog might have.

When looking for a qualified dog trainer in London make sure you’ve done your research on his training techniques and the kind of results he is able to deliver for dogs with behavioral problems. At times, however, dogs can develop severe behavioral issues, and this is where a dog behaviorist is the best choice for correction of said problems.

Dog behaviorist studies


Dog behaviorists not only love dogs, but they have focused their studies on the behavior of dogs in order to become experts at how to help them with troubling behavior.

Dog behaviorists want to understand a dog’s environment as this is often one reason that a dog might act out. The dog behaviorist will study common problems that dogs may exhibit, and they will equally examine the likely causes of bad behavior. Then, the job of the dog behaviorist is to create a plan to improve the negative actions of the dog in question.

The dog behaviorist wants to observe the errant pup in its usual environment, so people in this profession can expect to make lots of home visits. These visits may last for hours at a time, and the behaviorist may need to make multiple visits in order to make the proper observations. Furthermore, dog behaviorists will want to see the dog in question interacting with his or her pet parents. A third party that is often a member of the dog behaviorist’s team is the veterinarian. Should a dog behaviorist deem a health problem responsible for a dog’s troubling behavior, the vet will need to write a prescription or provide other necessary medication.

The dog behaviorist is usually recommended to a pet parent whose dog is expressing abnormal behavior. This can be anything from a toileting problem to aggression toward other dogs, people, or other animals. Desperate pet parents often seek the advice of their veterinarian, who will refer them to the dog behaviorist.

Assessing the dogs behavior


Once the dog behaviorist has been consulted, he or she will want to get a detailed history of the dog’s negative behavior.

The behaviorist will want to know when the behavior began, and if the dog has experienced any changes that might influence the negative actions. Not only will the dog behavior expert want to simply observe the dog in his native surroundings, but the behaviorist will also want to handle the dog. Sometimes errant behavior is due to an injury that hasn’t been diagnosed.

Handling the dog will give the behaviorist an idea of any pain the dog might be experiencing. Finally, once the cause of the behavioral problem has been identified, the dog behavioral expert will devise a plan of action and advise the dog’s family as to how this plan should be carried out.

Dog Behaviorist Training

Now that we know what the dog behaviorist does, it is important to learn how one becomes a part of this profession. First, those interested in becoming a dog behaviorist must have completed a bachelor’s degree.

Now, this is a point of contention as there is no one degree that is required. Some may study the pre-requisites for veterinary medicine, or they may obtain a degree in animal husbandry. Typically, the bachelor’s degree will be in a more general field. Even so, the four-year degree that is obtained to begin specializing in dog behavior must be one that is concentrating in some type of animal science. Typically, one will obtain a degree in animal behavior, biology, entomology, or animal physiology.

Next, dog behaviorists often pursue (at the very minimum) a master’s degree in their field of animal science. Some will strive to obtain a doctorate. This concentrated study of animal behavior, health, and psychology will only aid the dog behaviorist in expertly finding and correcting errant behavior in canines.

Dog behaviorists often seek certification in their area of expertise. This is also a requirement for employment in the United Kingdom, particularly if the behavioral expert wishes to work in a clinical setting such as a veterinarian office or in a zoo or shelter.

There are two levels of certification for a dog behaviorist. These include an ACAAB (Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist) or a CAAB (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist). Of course, in order to obtain either of these dog training certifications, one must have a related degree (either in the field of animal behavioral science or in biological science) from an accredited college or university.

The prospective dog behaviorist will also need to do internships that provide three to five years of experience in the area of specialty.

Once a dog behaviorist has determined the cause of a dog’s negative behavior, he or she will stay in touch with the pet parents to ensure the treatment plan is working. The behaviorist may ask the pet parents to come in to a central clinic location, or they may visit the family in their own home.

Although most of the job is a matter of trial and error, the dog behaviorist is often successful in diagnosing and helping pet parents to solve bad behavior in their canines.

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