What Are The Differences Between Pet-Behavior Professionals?
When you find yourself needing dog training or pet training services, it's important to understand the different types of services providers and services. Professionals in the pet-behavior field fall into four main categories.
When you find yourself needing dog training or pet training services, it's important to understand the different types of services providers and services. Professionals in the pet-behavior field fall into four main categories:
Pet trainers use a number of different titles, such as "behavior counselor," "pet psychologist" and "pet therapist." The level of education and experience among this group of professionals varies greatly. Most learn how to work with animals through apprenticeships with established trainers, volunteering at animal shelters, attending seminars on training and behavior and training their own animals. And some are certified by specialized training schools.
Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDTs)
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), an independent organization created by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), offers an international certification program. To earn the designation of Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), an individual must accrue a requisite number of working hours as a dog trainer, provide letters of recommendation and pass a standardized test that evaluates her or his knowledge of canine ethology, basic learning theory, canine husbandry and teaching skill. A CPDT must abide by a code of ethics and earn continuing education credits to maintain certification.
Applied Animal Behaviorists, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs) and Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (ACAABs)
An applied animal behaviorist has earned an MS, MA or PhD in animal behavior. They are experts in dog and cat behavior and often in the behavior of other companion animal species as well, like horses and birds. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs, those with a doctoral degree) and Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (ACAABs, those with a master's degree) received supervised graduate or post-graduate training in animal behavior, biology, zoology and learning theory at accredited universities.
Effective applied animal behaviorists will have expertise in (a) behavior modification, so they know the techniques that produce changes in behavior, (b) the normal behavior of the species they're treating, so they can recognize how and why your pet's behavior is abnormal, and (c) teaching and counseling people, so they can effectively teach you how to understand and work with your pet. Most CAABs work through veterinary referrals, and they work closely with veterinarians to select the best behavioral medications for pets.
Knowledge of animal behavior isn't required to earn a veterinary degree, and animal behavior isn't comprehensively taught in most veterinary training programs. However, some veterinarians seek specialized education in animal behavior and earn certification through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. To become a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (Dip ACVB), veterinarians must complete a residency in behavior and pass a qualifying examination.
In addition to having knowledge of domestic animal behavior and experience treating pet behavior problems, veterinary behaviorists can prescribe medications that can help with your pet's treatment. Issues that often require the use of medication include separation anxiety, phobias, compulsive behaviors and fear of people, objects or other animals.