What's the difference between a trainer and a Behaviourist?
What is the difference between a behaviour consultant, behaviourist, veterinary behaviourist and trainer?
It can be confusing world of titles & acronyms in the dog industry but there is something very important to note when distinguishing between these roles.
Unfortunately, the world of dog training and behaviour is an unregulated field in Ireland. This means that anyone can claim the title of a trainer or even a veterinary behaviourist without receiving appropriate accreditation or qualification from a higher institution or scientifically recognised educational body. A one month online course doth not the expert make!
A trainer focuses on teaching an animal new behaviours. Think search and rescue, service and assistance dogs or agility as an example. They would normally hold qualification with a recognised body such as Anied, Creedon's, IAPDT, APDT etc. Trainers often do 1-2-1 with their clients for basic training such as lead work or good manners. They might hold group classes for puppies, agility or fitpaws. There is no state requirement to hold a qualification in training. If in doubt, ask! Your trainer should proudly present this on request.
A behaviour consultant should hold some level of higher education in animal behaviour and rehabilitation. They specialise in more complex behaviours such as stereotypies, aggression and fear based behaviours.
Consultants look to identify the root cause or motivation for the behaviour and can provide behavioural assessment and modification programs that include environmental management as well as training. Behaviour Consultants (if accredited) follow a professional code of ethics which you can read here
Whilst there is no state requirement to hold any formal qualification, most behaviour consultants are accredited through a higher education institution or be a member of a governing body such as the IAABC (International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants). Being able to identify and work with maladaptive behaviours typically takes years of experience. Some Behaviour Consultants (like us) work closely with vets, physiotherapists, hydrotherapists and nutritionists.
In the USA you must hold a scientific post graduate degree with an in depth knowledge of everything from neurology to physiology and the relatable link between these and behaviour. They might also work in the field of scientific research and produce papers indexed by prestigious scientific bodies. Snout & About believe that in respect to the enormity of work, study and years of educational dedication that the title Behaviourist should reflect the equivalent values held in the USA.
A veterinary behaviourist is a practising vet who holds a higher level of education specific to behaviour. A veterinary behaviourist can help diagnose the whole animal both medically and behaviourally, prescribing the required medication to support behavioural change. Veterinary surgeons with expertise in behavioural medicine are recognised as such by specialist boards. In Europe, they are regulated by the European College of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine (Companion Animals). If in doubt, be sure to check credentials.