Q: What is a board-certified veterinary behaviorist?
A: Board-certified Veterinary Behaviorists specialize in clinical animal behavior. They are qualified to diagnose and treat medical and behavioral problems including prescribing medications to treat those problems. They are knowledgeable in the sociologic, psychologic, and medical aspects of animal behavior. A veterinarian who has completed the certification requirements of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, including a 2-5 year behavioral medicine residency, publishing a research study in a scientific journal, and passing a rigorous board examination is called a board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist or Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB). You can find out more at dacvb.org.
Q: What is a certified applied animal behaviorist?
A: A certified applied animal behaviorist has an upper-level degree such as a Masters’s degree or a Ph.D. in an animal behavior-related field such as psychology, biology, animal behavior, and behavioral ecology and has passed the certification program for the Animal Behavior Society (ABS). Certified applied animal behaviorist means that the person has met the educational, experiential, and ethical standards of the ABS. You can find out more about the Animal Behavior Society at animalbehavior.org.
Q: What is a veterinarian whose practice is limited to behavior?
A: A veterinarian whose practice is limited to behavior is a veterinarian who only sees behavior cases. They may have completed a residency program or they may have taken additional continuing education courses to increase their knowledge of the subject. Only veterinarians can legally diagnose and treat medical and behavioral problems in animals, including prescribing medications to treat those problems. Many veterinarians who have an interest in animal behavior are members of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. You access their website at avsab.org.
Q: What is a behaviorist?
A: The term behaviorist is not attached to any specific qualification or level of schooling unless preceded by “veterinary” or “certified applied animal.” It can be used by anyone, including someone with no formal education or experience in companion animal behavior.
Q: Who can use the terms “dog trainer” and “pet behavior consultant?”
A: There is no training or experience level necessary for someone to use “dog trainer” or “pet behavior consultant” to describe themselves. There is a voluntary certification program for pet dog trainers including a written examination, references from a veterinarian, and proof of hours logged teaching through the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers. You can find out more about this program at ccpdt.org.