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How to Find a Dog Behaviorist

Updated on July 7, 2010

Running away from home is a behavioral problem many owners face

How to solve behavioral problems, a.Farricelli
How to solve behavioral problems, a.Farricelli

When man's best friend develops behavioral problems and owners are at their wit's end, who should be called? Often many people may answer in chorus ''a dog trainer'' . But often many people do not know that dog trainers do not really specialize in behavioral problems even though they may offer some helpful tips and insights. The real professional that should intervene in these scenarios are really animal behaviorists, and when dealing specifically with dogs, then they are called dog behaviorists.

These are the experts dealing with behavioral problems and that may help you find hope when your dog is acting aggressively towards other dogs, barking non stop all day or ruining your home due to a bad case of separation anxiety. Unlike dog trainers who specialize on teaching dogs and specializing on how dog cognitively learn, dog behaviorists specialize on solving problems due to behavior and are savvy about dog psychology.

How to Find an Animal Behaviorist

Now that you know the right professional to call in order to solve your pet's behavioral problems, comes time to make some important considerations. Consider that finding a good animal behaviorist may be tricky. You may have to do a lot of research in order to find a reputable one by asking around or finding special organizations. Never trust the first person you find on the yellow pages or over the internet: we are talking about your dog's behavioral problems and if this is not dealt in the correct manner, problems may be even made worse if not approached in the right way. Following are some tips on how to find a good animal behaviorist.

Know these Acronyms

Something to keep in mind when searching for a good dog behaviorist is to familiarize yourself with various acronyms often used to depict specialization in certain professions.

CPDT stands simply for Certified Professional Dog Trainer

CDBC stands for Certified Dog Behavior Consultant

MDE stands for Master Degree in Education

BDP stands for Bachelors Degree in Psychology

Ask Veterinarian Offices

Often veterinarian offices deal with behavioral problems in pets on a routine basis. Pet owners indeed, often take their pets to their trusted veterinarian for a physical examination in order to rule out possible physical causes of behavioral problems. Some veterinarians may prescribe medications for behavioral problems, but in ma ny cases, if not most, this is not enough. Behavior modification techniques must often necessarily accompany prescription medication in order to grant success to the treatment plan. For this reason, often veterinarians offer referrals to experienced animal behaviorists.

Check with a Shelter

Often shelters or rescues rely on dog behaviorists in order to perform behavioral tests or fix behavioral problems before putting up a dog for adoption. Your local dog shelter may therefore be a good resource to find dog behaviorists with many years of experience behind. Ask for certifications and success stories before making a decision.

• Ask Around

If you know of a friend who has had success in treating a pet after hiring an animal behaviorist, then ask for this professional's contact information. Use caution though, not all behaviorists deal with the same issues. Some may specialize for instance in aggression issues while others may specialize in easier behavioral problems.

Visit the IAABC website

The international Association of Animal Behavior offers a database of experienced professionals. In order to find a reputable animal behavior consultant you can simply perform a search under the ''find a consultant'' tab. Here you can perform a search by simply putting the State, city, zip code and type of pet you own. The association ensures that its members meet standards for education and training by adhering to the highest ethical standards

Whichever animal behaviorist you choose, make sure that they use kind reward based methods and positive reinforcement. Clicker training and the use of treats, toys and affection are examples of reward based methods. Also keep in mind that behavior modification is not based solely on the dog but on the owner as well. Indeed, you likely will have to change the way you interact with your dog and change some of your behaviors accordingly. It is a work ing progress that is very well worth it and that ultimately in the long run will help you and your dog bond more together.


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    • grejotte profile image

      Anne-Marie 7 years ago from Montreal

      Awesome. :)

      I am going to study animal behavior this fall. I can,t wait!! I want to be a dog behaviorist. I totally love what Cesar Millan does. :)