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Does this dog need a trainer?
When a client shares a concern about his or her dog's behavior, it is important to take a brief behavioral history.
It is a common misconception that aggressive behavior reflects inadequate training or lack of dominance on the part of the owner. Implementing a training program without first gaining an understanding of the cause for a behavioral concern, particularly when the concern includes fear or aggressive behavior, can be harmful and could exacerbate the situation.
Veterinary behaviorists are trained to diagnose by collecting a medical and behavioral history, interpreting body language and by considering factors that contribute to or maintain undesirable behaviors. Underlying anxiety, medical conditions and medications, and reinforcement history are assessed prior to designing a treatment plan.
Dog trainers and non-veterinary behaviorists
Non-professionals may describe themselves as behaviorists. Qualifications vary widely as does the level of education and methodologies of trainers and non-veterinary behaviorists. There are few regulated governing bodies for certification. It is important to research before referring.
Qualified dog trainers' area of expertise is teaching behavioral skills. Veterinary behaviorists often work with dog trainers who can help their clients implement behavior modification techniques.
Be sure that you refer to trainers that use techniques that are humane and reflect current standards. Helpful information is available at www.dacvb.org. Paraprofessionals are an extension of your practice--choose wisely and treasure the trainers that treat your clients and patients well!