Is the study of animal behavior being marginalized when used as a marketing tool?
I found a website yesterday, specializing in dog boarding. What alarmed me was they stated, “our camp counselors” are, “certified in dog behavior.” When I inquired, which I did, I was told they go through an in-house training program lasting a couple of weeks or less!
The problem I see with using the designation “certified in dog behavior” is, it makes the study of animal behavior, appear to be no more than friendly dog advice obtained from anyone, while marginalizing the very individuals who can and are educated to help the most. This is a disservice to the dog owner and the industry.
This should be a concern for the public, as well as those who are degreed individuals, specializing in animal behavior. Aside from the obvious differences, between those who actually studied behavior at universities, there are some of us who have spent a great deal of time studying on our own, taking courses on-line and/or using qualified mentors, that may include veterinarians who themselves specialize in behavior.
What I’m wondering, is will the careless and continued use, eventually inculcate the public, into thinking that understanding and treating behavior related problems, can be accomplished by anyone referring to themselves as a “behavior expert.” I can see it now; these “camp counselors” will be delivering advice on how to solve anxiety problems and aggression. This marginalizes those of us who are qualified, and it most definitely affects the welfare of dogs. The alternative is referring owners to qualified individuals who really can help
Given the fact that most dogs end up in shelters because of behavior problems I view this as a serious problem for the public. If unqualified individuals continue providing uneducated advice, rather than referring dog owners to someone, who is qualified, through appropriate and acceptable training, we will continue to see more and more dogs in shelters.
The alternative is our communities and dog related businesses, need to seek out qualified individuals and refer pet owners to them. In turn, these professional behavior consultants will utilize dog day cares, dog walkers, and other dog trainers if they fit into the behavior modification program, designed by the behavior consultant, and fitting that individual dogs needs.
The needs of the family and dog must be addressed first; this means the behavior consultant identifies the underlying problem/conflict as defined by the family. This means bringing the family together in agreement how best to solve the problem, then putting together a plan that works for the entire family, to solve the problem and/or conflict, as well as making sure the dogs needs are met as well.
A good place to find qualified behavior experts are these organizations, the International Association of Behavior Consultants www.iaabc.org , the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists www.veterinarybehaviorists.org/ , the Animal Behavior Society www.animalbehavior.org.
When your business uses the right individuals, it creates a win-win situation for everyone, most of all you are ensuring the pet gets the best care possible.
Much of the problem is there are no regulations in the dog training, or dog behavior industry, so businesses are not required to seek out professional behavior consultants. So those of us who specialize in the behavior industry need to educate businesses about these differences, otherwise, the continuing result will be, more and more dogs, will either be given up to shelters or euthanized out of frustration, and potential dog owners , will be less likely to purchase and/or adopt dogs in the future.
In these uncertain economic times, I increasing get frustrated when I see dog organizations including shelters and rescues, dog boutiques, and large box pet stores, dog trainers and veterinarians not specializing in behavior, give little attention where they refer clients.
This has an impact on the welfare of pets, your clients and/or customers. Often owners are so frustrated over the unresolved problem they eventually give up and relinquish their pet.
As a founding member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants www.iaabc.org , it has always been our goal to “assist and educate owners and handlers of companion animals to prevent problems and to interrupt the cycle of inappropriate punishment, rejection, and euthanasia of animals with behavior problems that are resolvable.”
I keep a complete resume posted here: http://responsibledog.net/. It is a chronological compilation of my personal on-going training and behavior background. It’s kept updated so potential clients and/or others interested in my services, am apprised of my education and skill level.
Many of the seminars, workshops, conferences and private/semi-private mentoring sessions I attend, commonly referred to, in all teaching environments, are continuing educational units (CEU’s). I am meeting minimum standards suggested by the Journal Veterinary Behavior (2006, 1, 47-52) for dog trainers. So, if someone calling themselves a behavior specialist/behaviorist is unable to provide up to date certificates of continuing education, related to the field of behavior, then you should look elsewhere, not only for your own sake, but also for the pet you care so much about.
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Training and Behavior Solutions
Combining Art and Science for Training
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948
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