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What's the difference between a dog trainer, an animal behaviourist, a vet assistant or any other career in the pet industry?

KiwiCareers have a great definition of pet consultants, and the prospects and possible salary for your work

....The term "dog behaviourist" can
have several meanings.....

It could mean an experienced dog training professional who has studied animal behavior in particular and who perhaps specializes in helping pet owners deal with dogs exhibiting fear aggression, predatory aggression, dog-dog aggression, or dog-on-human aggression.

Some other dog trainers do not accept such clients. No criticism of those trainers is intended by that remark. They may specialize in offering puppy kindergarten classes, and clicker training classes, and or obedience, agility, herding, tracking and other canine sports.

Then there are "veterinary behaviorists." These are people who are licensed veterinarians who have continued their studies and have specialized in the field of animal behavior. That does not necessarily mean that they consult with clients.

Sometimes an animal behavior problem goes beyond the educational limits of a dog trainer or obedience instructor and requires the expertise of a qualified animal behavior counselor.

An example of what is needed to be certified... usually a degree in psychology.

Robert DeFranco, CBC has a professional certification in dog behavior counseling with the Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors. He completed his BA in psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was a graduate student in psychology having done reseach work with animals in learning theory (rats and pigeons) at Queens College, City University of New York, and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in psychology at Walden University.

Some of these professionals are investigative researchers. They may be studying wildlife. And yet another area of animal behaviorists are those people with undergraduate degrees in fields such as psychology and/or in veterinary medicine who then completed graduate courses to the Master's Degree level, Ph.D. level, or Diplomate level. Oftentimes they're affiliated with University veterinary colleges.

Probably other people could offer additional descriptions.

Note: neither the word "behaviorist" nor the word "dog trainer" is an indication of any credentials or any license by the state or Federal government. (editor's note: in New Zealand neither)

There are professional organizations which offer board-certification in specialties such as "veterinary behavior," "animal behavior" and "applied animal behavior".

And now there is a certification program with requirements to be met, for Certified Pet Dog Trainer. (editor's note: Only in NA, and Australia)

This was written by Barbara D. Brill, Reward Training, Dundee, NY List Owner, Aggressive Behaviors in Dogs Group

The job of the behaviour counselor is to:

  1. Obtain a history of the animal in writing or via a telephone interview.
  2. Determine the inappropriate behavior as described by the family(s).
  3. Clinically diagnose the disorder.
  4. Design a behavior modification program to change the behavior.

    This may include some or all of the following:
    *changing the animal's responding to certain stimuli through operant and respondent conditioning, *establishing better communication through specific behavioral conditioning,
    *family counselling,
    *environmental changes,
    *management changes,
    *sexually altering the animal by a licensed veterinarian (usually with males),
    *and in some extreme cases where fears, phobias, anxiety and/or aggression may be genetically predisposed and neruochemically based, the use of a short-term psycho-pharmaceutical agent (to be dispensed by your family veterinarian) to assist us with the treatment plan.
  5. . Instruct the family on how to implement the behavior modification program.
  6. Follow-up on two seperate occasions within a two month period to determine the efficacy of the treatment program
  7. Write a veterinary behavior report for your family veterinarian if requested.


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