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Forum » Our Community » Pet Behaviors » How to become an animal behaviorist...
How to become an animal behaviorist...
AdminDate: Wednesday, 2011-05-25, 9:13 AM | Message # 1
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Messages: 57
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I have been asked how one might pursue training in animal behavior. Perhaps this will be useful information for others so I will post it on the forum.

First let me clarify, while I work in animal behavior and hope that I can have useful input on that subject I do not have any official certifications as an animal behaviorist and certainly not as an avian behaviorist.

The term "animal behaviorist" can have various meanings - or sometimes no meaning at all. It can refer to specific training and qualifications or it can refer simply to a field of study or a perspective on working with animals. I would say I utilize the tools and training of a behaviorist, and I would say I am working in the field of animal behavior, but I would not claim any official certification as a behaviorist. There are only two such certifications that are meaningful.

First is certification in Applied Animal Behavior through the Animal Behavior Society (Animal Behavior Society Web Site) of which there are two levels either full or associate certification either of which requires graduate level training and many years of experience. The other is for veterinarians and is offered by the AVMA - this is in America, most other nations do have similar programs through their veterinary boards. All vets receive some basic training in animal behavior, though it is quite minimal - so one should not, in general, look to a vet for behavioral advice. The AVMA certification in behavior though is quite thorough and if you happen to have a vet so certified then definitely you should pick their brain about behavioral issues.

As an aside I always got a laugh when some fool pet owner would talk down to me when it came up that I was a pet trainer, often they would say something along the lines of "Are you a veterinarian? If not why should I listen to you?!" I had to laugh on the inside as most of the veterinarians in town came to me to help train their own pets.

I myself will be applying for certification through the Animal Behavior Society, but this will take quite some time yet.

There are many other groups that offer what I would call pseudo-credentials. One of the most popular is CCPT for dog trainers. There may be many quite competent and well educated trainers who are CCPT certified, but the certification itself is meaningless. To paraphrase Tim Minchin these people are behaviorists in the same way my buddy Steve is a pharmacist.

These organizations charge a fee for certification and then they advertise that consumers should only go to trainers certified by their group. It's basically the pet trainer mafia. There are several dozen such certifications that I qualify for, but I am not paying them a boat-load of money so I can put more letters after my name.

Now, if you are just interested in learning about animal behavior for your own edification or to build your relationship with your pets then I can offer many suggestions on reading materials. You can learn much from good book, but you also miss much by not working actively in the field. It doesn't matter how motivated I am and how many texts and manuals I read - I cannot be a part time heart surgeon. But just the same if you truly wish to learn I'd be happy to offer recommendations. Or, particularly for younger members (or I suppose for older ones who wish to start a new career) I can offer advice on how to start a legitimate career in the field of animal behavior.

Before offering any such recommendations however it would be useful to know the background of the interested parties: have you had university level coursework in biology or psychology, and if so how much? Given that, I could point you in the direction of many great sources.

- credits to: Augies's Dad
Forum » Our Community » Pet Behaviors » How to become an animal behaviorist...
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