What Is a Dog Behaviorist?
If you are having issues with your dog’s behavior, maybe you should consult with a dog behaviorist. Do you know what a dog behaviorist is? And did you know that there is a difference between a dog trainer and a dog behaviorist?
To better understand the right option for you and your dog, it’s important to know the difference between a dog trainer and a dog behaviorist.
A dog trainer can help train your dog to be the perfect companion. Some dogs require training in the basics, such as sit, stay, come, down, and go to your space. Maybe your dog needs to learn how to walk nicely on a leash. A dog trainer may teach a dog not to jump or dig in the trash, and some dog trainers provide even more advanced dog training. Before you contact a dog trainer, it is best to know exactly what kind of training you are looking for and to make sure that the trainer is equipped to provide those services.
A dog with behavior problems can be difficult to live with, and a dog behaviorist can help. Today, more and more dog owners are turning to a dog behaviorist to solve their dog behavior issues.
What Does a Dog Behaviorist Do?
A dog behaviorist will work with you to help manage and prevent dog behavior problems. A dog behaviorist is a trained expert in the field of animal behavior and animal learning with a wealth of scientific tools (such as behavior modification).
A dog behaviorist loves animals, and studies them to learn about their behavior. They’ll try to understand why a dog does the things they do and why they act in certain ways. They try to find explanations for the dog’s behavior by examining their environment and the relationships they have with their humans and other pets in the household.
Evaluating a Dog with Behavior Problems
Dogs with emotional problems can misbehave in many ways. The first step a dog behaviorist will take is evaluating your dog. They will help identify the cause of your dog’s problems, then create a customized treatment plan to help your dog deal with those problems. They will also work directly with you to teach you how to carry out the treatment plan successfully and follow up with you to see how things are going and to help you navigate any issues.
There can be many causes for a dog’s bad behavior. It could be another pet in the home that is making them feel uncomfortable or a medical problem that’s causing a change in behavior. If you’ve adopted a dog that has lived in another home, they may have picked up bad habits or been traumatized before coming to you. Or, you may have gotten a dog breed that’s not right for your home environment – some dogs need more one-on-one time with their humans, more room to run and play, or to not be in a home with other pets.
A dog behaviorist will visit the pet owner’s home to personally observe the pet as they interact with the family. They aren’t interested in training – they’re interested in finding the cause of the behavioral problem. Once they have observed the pet in their home environment, they will work with the owner to make the appropriate changes to the pet’s environment. If medication is needed to manage a medical condition, a dog behaviorist will also work directly with your dog’s veterinarian.
Animal shelters are filled with dogs whose owners didn’t know how to help them. Because of continued dog behavior problems, these dog owners eventually became so frustrated that they give up, and many pet shelters work directly with dog behaviorists to help them deal with problem pets who have been surrendered by their owners. By working with a dog behaviorist, many of these surrendered dogs will increase their chances of finding a new home.
Destructive dogs can benefit greatly from a dog behaviorist. There can be many causes for a dog’s destructive behavior, and a dog behaviorist can help to pinpoint the problem, so you can deal with it head on. Most dogs become destructive when they are bored, but some dogs become destructive because they suffer from separation anxiety. A good dog behaviorist will know the difference and help you address the underlying issue.
Puppies that are not properly socialized with human interaction at a young age tend to grow into unstable dogs. If you are living with a dog that cannot be approached by anyone other than you, it is important to get help quickly. Eventually, these puppies become fear biters or overly aggressive.
How to Choose a Dog Behaviorist
Before choosing a dog behaviorist, you should do your homework. This is an unregulated field, and unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a “dog behaviorist,” regardless of their actual training. That’s why it’s so important to look for a dog behaviorist with the right education and experience. As a good rule of thumb, look for dog behaviorists who are certified with a respected organization like the Animal Behavior Society (ABS). When choosing a dog behaviorist, remember that there are levels of expertise in the field, from trainers and behavior consultants to certified applied animal behaviorists and board-certified veterinary behaviorists.
Speak to your veterinarian and ask them to refer you to a good dog behaviorist in your area.
To learn more about dog behavior, go to our article Understanding Bad Dog Behavior.