What Is a Dog Behaviorist?

dog behaviorist

A dog behaviorist is a professional who helps pet parents address behavioral issues. They can work with dogs in group classes, individual sessions or through boarding and training.

These professionals understand the causes of different behaviors. This includes factors like poor health, neglect, trauma and breed type.

They Are Experts in Behavioral Modification

Behaviorists are experts in the field of behavioral modification and can work with pets that exhibit bad behavior. These professionals are trained to recognize the cause of a pet’s problem and create a customized treatment plan for each client.

Unlike obedience training, which trains dogs to perform specific actions when given commands, behavior modification looks to change a dog’s response to stimuli or situations. This could include addressing issues like aggression, anxiety, fear, phobias and reactivity.

The best behaviorists have a deep understanding of animal psychology and the normal behavior of the species they treat. This gives them the ability to tailor training that can help your dog while preserving their extraordinary personality and instincts.

They Are Highly Qualified

A dog behaviorist is an expert in animal learning and psychology with a set of science-backed tools for managing, modifying, and preventing problem behavior. They use these tools to diagnose the cause of a dog’s behavior and provide a customized treatment plan to help you and your pet overcome your challenges together.

These professionals study animal behavior, physiology, and genetics to better understand why animals behave the way they do. This allows them to effectively assess, manage, modify, and prevent problematic behaviors and comorbidities.

This includes diagnosing and treating anxiety, phobias, aggression, social problems, and other behavior issues that require a holistic approach. They can also prescribe medications and develop science-backed training plans to help solve a problem.

There are a variety of experts who can provide behavioral services, including certified applied animal behaviorists (CAAB), veterinary behaviorists, and board-certified veterinary behaviorists (DACVB). These are highly qualified professionals that have gone through an extensive education and training program to become certified.

They Are Licensed

If your dog is displaying major behavior issues, such as resource guarding, aggression, phobias, anxiety or fear, you need to seek help from a professional. Ideally, you’ll only work with licensed veterinarians and trainers who are also behavior experts.

Certified dog trainers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in animal science, psychology or another related discipline and at least one year of experience. They can train your dog to perform obedience behaviors like sit, stay, walk on leash without pulling and greet people and other dogs politely.

However, if your dog’s behavior problems are related to a medical condition, you should seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian first before consulting a dog trainer or behaviorist.

If you are unsure of what kind of expertise your potential trainer has, check with an organization like the Animal Behavior Society (ABS). Their members must be certified as a behaviorist and be committed to humane, ethical and minimally aversive methods.

They Are Certified

If you’re looking for a qualified dog behaviorist, it’s important to understand what kind of professional certification they have. Some dog trainers are certified by industry organizations while others dabble in the field but don’t have a degree or the qualifications to call themselves a canine behaviorist.

While dog training can help teach a dog basic manners, behaviorists specialize in addressing complex behaviors that require one-on-one attention. They may use group classes to socialize your dog or private sessions for more complex behavior issues such as phobias, separation anxiety, aggression or destructive chewing.

Veterinary behaviorists are also highly qualified to assess your pet and diagnose physical conditions that may be causing unwanted behavior. They can prescribe medications that can alleviate pain and discomfort as well as help your pet learn to cope with its emotional problems.

There are many different types of canine behavior experts, from certified dog trainers to behavioral consultants to certified applied animal behaviorists (CAAB) and board-certified veterinary behaviorists (DACVB). When you’re searching for a behavioral professional, it’s essential to know what kind of credentials they have and how long they’ve been in the business.

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