Is studying animal behavior marginalized when used indiscriminately in marketing?
Recently I came across a website 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 using the designation “certified in dog behavior” makes the study of animal behavior seem to be no more than friendly dog advice obtained from anyone. It marginalizes 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 individuals with university degrees, 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, using qualified mentors, who specialize in behavior.
My concern is will this careless and continued use inculcate the public that treating behavior related problems can be accomplished by anyone calling themselves a “behavior expert.” I can just imagine; these “camp counselors” advising dog owners how to solve anxiety problems and aggression. This marginalizes those qualified, and it definitely affects the welfare of dogs. The alternative, refer owners to qualified individuals.
Given the fact most dogs end up in shelters because of behavior problems, this as a serious problem. If unqualified individuals continue providing advice, instead of referring dog owners to the right individuals, dogs will continue to be mistreated and end up in shelters.
The alternative is communities and dog related businesses should seek qualified individuals and refer pet owners to them. In turn, these professional behavior consultants will use dog day cares, dog walkers, and other dog trainers when/if they fit into the behavior modification program. A behavior modification program is designed by a behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist, and fits individual dogs needs and identified problems.
The needs of the family and dog must be addressed first; this means the behavior consultant identifies the underlying problem/conflict defined by the family. This requires getting the family together, agreeing how to solve the problem, putting together a plan that works for the entire family resolving the problem or conflict. At the same time, the dogs needs must be met.
You can find qualified behavior experts through these organizations, The International Association of Behavior Consultants www.iaabc.org , American College of Veterinary Behaviorist www.veterinarybehaviorists.org/ , and Animal Behavior Society www.animalbehavior.org.
When your business uses the right individuals, a win-win situation is created and the pet gets the best care possible.
The problem holding us back is dog training and behavior remains an unregulated industry, businesses are not required to seek professional behavior consultants. Those who specialize in behavior need to educate businesses about these differences. The downside is continuing having more and more dogs given up to shelters or euthanized out of frustration. Poor dog relationships may result in less pet ownership.
This has a direct effect on not just dog welfare but your clients and customers. Dog owners are so frustrated over unresolved problems they give up and relinquish the 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.”
You can see my Resume here: http://responsibledog.net/resume/ . It is a chronological compilation of on-going training and behavior background. It’s updated so potential clients and others interested in services are apprised of my education and skill level.
All seminars, workshops, conferences, private, semi-private mentoring and training sessions I attend offer continuing educational units (CEU’s). Currently my training background and knowledge exceed minimum standards suggested for dog trainers (Journal Veterinary Behavior,2006, 1, 47-52) . If someone calls themselves a behavior expert or behaviorist but is unable to offer any certifications or certificates of continuing education related to dog training and behavior, look elsewhere, you need to protect yourself and dog from unscrupulous people passing themselves off as experts.
Responsible Dog & Cat
Training and Behavior Solutions
Combining Art and Science for Training Animals
Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC
Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009 – 2012