Could a Pet Behaviorist Be the Answer to My Pet’s Problems?

Approximately 10 to 15 percent of pet owners say that they are dealing with pet behavior problems. While most of these issues can be treated by a veterinarian and an experienced trainer, there are some pets that don’t take well to training or other methods of controlling behavior.

In cases like this, it is important for you to take your pet to the veterinarian if she is not behaving appropriately. There may be an underlying medical cause for her change in behavior, or she might just be getting old.

But, if your pet’s behaviors are putting her or others in danger, then a pet behaviorist will usually be recommended by your vet. If you’re not sure of what this veterinary specialist does, then this guide will give you the information you’re looking for.

Difference Between a Pet Behaviorist and a Pet Trainer

A lot of people think that pet behaviorists and pet trainers are the same thing. While it is true that both help their clients prevent, modify, and manage problematic behaviors in pets, pet behaviorists have been specifically trained in animal behavior, animal learning, and behavior modification.

Pet trainers can help your pet stop jumping on your guests or other common bad behaviors, but when a pet is aggressive or dealing with issues that can make her dangerous, then a pet behaviorist is the person who is called on for help.

Pet behaviorists use science-backed tools to help identify the cause of the behavior, and they create custom treatment plans for your pet. They provide their clients with the education and resources they need to be able to stick to their pets’ treatment program, and they check in routinely to monitor the pet’s progression.

If the plan isn’t having the desired effect, then the pet behaviorist will come up with another plan of action.

How to Find a Good Pet Behaviorist

One of the challenges of finding a good pet behaviorist is that the animal training and behavior modification field is unregulated. This means that anybody can claim to be a pet trainer or behaviorist. For this reason, it is important to research any professional whom you might be considering using. Asking your vet for a referral is another good way to avoid inexperienced individuals as well.

The pet behaviorist you choose should be certified with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), or both. This shows that they have completed the appropriate training for the job. Both organizations also require their certificate holders to become recertified every three years. This ensures that the certified pet behaviorist is up-to-date on all the latest treatment protocols.

Another certification you should look for is through the Animal Behavior Society (ABS). Only those with certification through the ABS can be officially titled “animal behaviorists.” These professionals have undergone extensive training and have achieved their master’s degree (Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists) or their doctorate (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists).

For the best behavior modification success, your veterinarian and the behaviorist should work together closely to uncover the cause and create the appropriate treatment.

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