If you’re passionate about dogs and have a keen interest in their behavior, you may have considered a career as a dog behaviorist. A dog behaviorist is a professional who works with canines and their owners to modify and understand behavior. We often think of Cesar Milan, the infamous dog whisperer when we think of canine behaviorists but there are so many more.
This field requires a deep understanding of canine psychology, as well as advanced knowledge of training techniques and behavior modification strategies. In this article, we’ll explore what it takes to become a dog behaviorist, the skills and qualifications required, and the types of services you could offer as a professional in this exciting and rewarding field.
Read on to learn more about how you can turn your love of dogs into a fulfilling career as a dog behaviorist.
What is a Dog Behaviorist?
Are you a pup lover with a passion for understanding canine behavior? If so, a career as a dog behaviorist might just be the perfect fit for you! A dog behaviorist is a professional who specializes in understanding the psychology of dogs and using advanced training techniques to modify their behavior.
From addressing common issues like aggression and separation anxiety to teaching obedience and socialization skills, a dog behaviorist helps pups become their best selves. Not only is this a rewarding career that allows you to make a real difference in the lives of dogs and their humans, but it’s also a fascinating field that requires a deep understanding of canine behavior and psychology.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to be a dog behaviorist, the skills and qualifications required to succeed in this field, and the different types of services you could offer as a professional. So, leash up your curiosity and read on to learn more about this exciting and fulfilling career path!
Where do Dog behaviorists Work?
Your interest is piqued and now you wonder where would I work as a dog behaviorist? Since a canine behaviorist specializes in the study of dog behavior and works with dogs and their owners to address behavioral issues such as aggression, anxiety, and fear their work setting and employer varies.
Canine behaviorists can work in a variety of settings, including:
- Private practice: Many canine behaviorists work in private practice, either as independent consultants or as part of a larger animal behavior clinic. In this setting, they typically work one-on-one with dog owners to address behavior problems and develop training plans to modify undesirable behaviors.
- Animal shelters and rescues: Canine behaviorists may work in animal shelters or rescues, where they assess dogs’ behavior and help to develop training plans to increase their chances of adoption.
- Veterinary clinics: Canine behaviorists may work in veterinary clinics or animal hospitals, where they consult with veterinarians to address behavior problems that may be related to underlying medical conditions.
- Law enforcement and military organizations: Canine behaviorists may work with law enforcement or military organizations (or K9 Rescue Organizations) to train and evaluate working dogs, such as police dogs, military dogs, or search and rescue dogs.
- Academic and research institutions: Canine behaviorists may work in academic or research institutions, where they conduct research on dog behavior and cognition, develop and evaluate training programs, or teach courses on animal behavior, or help other researchers train dogs to do important research like certain conservation programs.
- Zoos and wildlife centers: Canine behaviorists may work in zoos or wildlife centers, where they develop training programs for captive animals, conduct research on animal behavior, or provide consultation on issues related to animal welfare and enrichment.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Become a Dog Behaviorist
Are you ready to unleash your potential and become a dog behaviorist? Follow these steps to start your journey:
Step 1: Get a Good Education
The first step to becoming a dog behaviorist is to get a solid education in animal behavior and psychology. There are many online courses and degree programs available, such as those offered by the Animal Behavior Institute or the Karen Pryor Academy. These programs will give you a foundation in animal behavior, learning theory, and behavior modification techniques.
Step 2: Gain Hands-On Experience
To become a successful dog behaviorist, you need hands-on experience working with dogs. When you look at the histories of the most famed dog behaviorists they spent years watching and studying dogs to learn their behavior. Consider volunteering at a local shelter, interning with a professional dog behaviorist, or working as a dog trainer to gain practical experience.
Step 3: Attend Workshops and Seminars
Attending workshops and seminars is a great way to learn about new techniques and stay up-to-date with the latest research in animal behavior. Organizations such as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) offer regular workshops and seminars.
Step 4: Get Certified and Educated
While certification is not required to become a dog behaviorist, it can be a valuable credential that sets you apart from other professionals. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the IAABC offer certification programs that demonstrate your expertise in the field.
You can also consider getting a University Degree focused on animal care that will speak volumes to your potential client base or employer on your dedication to animal and dog care.
University Degrees Related to Dogs
There are several university degrees that are related to dogs, including:
- Veterinary Medicine: A degree in veterinary medicine allows graduates to become licensed veterinarians and work with dogs (and other animals) as medical professionals.
- Animal Science: An animal science degree program may focus on the study of dogs, including their physiology, behavior, genetics, and nutrition.
- Animal Behavior: A degree in animal behavior can provide students with knowledge and skills related to the study of dog behavior, including training, conditioning, and the psychology of dog-human interactions.
- Canine Studies: Some universities offer degree programs specifically focused on the study of dogs, covering topics such as breed identification, training, behavior, and the role of dogs in society.
- Zoology: A degree in zoology may include coursework related to dogs, as well as other domestic and wild animals. Topics may include animal anatomy and physiology, evolution, ecology, and behavior.
- Dog Grooming: Some universities offer certificate programs in dog grooming, providing students with hands-on training in grooming techniques, safety, and hygiene.
Step 5: Build Your Network
Networking with other dog behaviorists, trainers, and professionals in the animal behavior field can help you stay connected and up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques. Joining professional organizations like the IAABC, APDT, or increasing your online presence in Facebook Groups can provide valuable networking opportunities.
Step 6: Start Your Own Business or Apply for Jobs
Once you’ve gained the necessary education, experience, and credentials, it’s time to start your own dog behaviorist business or apply for your next job! Consider creating a website or social media presence to promote your services and reach potential clients and business that may need your help. You can create referral arrangements with dog walkers, pet sitters and other pet professionals to get the word out.
So, there you have it! Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to a career as a dog behaviorist in no time!
Learn more about other Dog Careers in our Article on 7 Unique Professions for Dog Lovers, a Career as a Pet Food Taster, How Much dog Walkers Make and Pet Groomers we love to follow on IG to get a taste of being a pet groomer.
FAQ For Dog Behaviorist Careers
A dog behaviorist is a professional who specializes in understanding the psychology of dogs and using advanced training techniques to modify their behavior. A behaviorist typically works with dogs who are exhibiting problematic or undesirable behavior, such as aggression, fear, anxiety, or destructive behavior. The behaviorist will assess the dog’s behavior, identify the underlying causes of the behavior, and then work with the dog and their human family to develop a behavior modification plan. This plan may involve training techniques, environmental modifications, and/or medication or other therapies. The goal of a behaviorist is to help dogs overcome their behavior issues and improve their quality of life, while also helping their human family better understand and interact with their furry companion.
Whether a dog behaviorist is worth it depends on the specific situation and needs of the dog and their family. In many cases, working with a professional behaviorist can be very helpful and can make a significant difference in a dog’s behavior and quality of life. Behaviorists have specialized training and expertise in understanding canine behavior and using effective behavior modification techniques, which can be especially helpful when dealing with complex or severe behavior issues.
However, working with a behaviorist can be a significant investment of time and money, and it may not be necessary or appropriate in all situations.
While both dog behaviorists and dog trainers work with dogs, there are some key differences between the two professions. A dog trainer typically focuses on teaching dogs basic obedience commands and other skills, such as leash walking or retrieving. On the other hand, a dog behaviorist typically works with dogs who are exhibiting problematic or undesirable behavior, such as aggression, fear, anxiety, or destructive behavior. Behaviorists have specialized training and expertise in understanding the psychology of dogs and using advanced behavior modification techniques to help dogs overcome their behavior issues. Overall, while there is some overlap between the two professions, the primary focus of a dog trainer is on teaching dogs specific skills, while the primary focus of a dog behaviorist is on modifying a dog’s behavior to address problematic or undesirable behavior.
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