As far as finding the appropriate canine behaviorist near me, that depends on what the issue is. While dog trainers are great at teaching obedience skills, they may lack the experience or training necessary to address behavior-related problems such as aggression, resource guarding, reactivity or overarousal that require professional intervention. Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Bright advises owners who encounter serious behavioral problems like aggression, resource guarding or fear to contact a canine behavior expert rather than their local trainer for help.
There are three categories of dog behavior experts: certified applied animal behaviorists (CAABs), veterinary behaviorists and certified canine behavior consultants. CAABs possess doctorates in biological or behavioral science with extensive clinical experience treating both animals and people clients alike. The Animal Behavior Society (ABS) recognizes CAABs, which rank among some of the premier behavior specialists in North America.
Veterinary Behaviorists differ from CAABs by possessing both a degree from a school of veterinary medicine and extensive clinical experience in their field. As experts on animal behavior, these veterinarians possess both an education in and clinical expertise within animal behavior medicine; thus making them exceptional practitioners able to prescribe medications as well as formulate scientific training plans. Furthermore, only these specialists have access to helping with issues facing both domestic and exotic pets alike.
Finding an experienced dog behaviorist may seem like an uphill struggle, but here are a few key points you should keep in mind when making this choice. First and foremost, make sure the behaviorist is certified by a reputable organization and adheres to their ethics statement – including encouraging positive training techniques instead of alpha theory or dominance training techniques. Inquire further if anything seems out-dated. Lastly, remember to ask questions. If the behaviorist uses outdated terminology or approaches report them back directly to their certifying body as soon as possible.
Request that the behaviorist provide you with an in-depth list of your pet’s history, health issues and daily routine – this will give her all of the information she needs to ascertain what’s driving their behavioral problems and develop a plan to deal with them together.
Once the plan is in place, she will monitor it to see how your dog is progressing. If the problem still persists, additional assistance from a veterinary behaviorist might be required.
Finding an experienced canine behaviorist is easiest using the CCPDT website, which features certified dog trainers and behavior consultants organized by city, state and postal code. When searching by name, make sure they have “Certified Behavior Consultant Canine – Knowledge Assessed” after their name (as opposed to just “Certified Professional Dog Trainer,” who do not specialize in behaviors). If none are available locally contact AVAB or inquire at local veterinary hospitals regarding referrals; trainers also often offer private behavior consultations within their training schools or homes which could be ideal in certain instances.