What is an Animal Behaviorist?

What is an Animal Behaviorist, a Canine Behaviorist, or a Feline Behaviorist?

Animal Behaviorists (canine behaviorists, feline behaviorists, or pet behaviorists) help pet owners resolve canine and feline behaviour problems with proven science based methods. But what makes someone a "behaviorist?" How can a pet owner know for sure whether or not someone is a legitimate "animal behaviorist?" Is there a criterion for claiming such a title?

Unfortunately anyone can hang a sign on their door claiming to be an animal behaviorist, or for that matter a "certified" animal behaviorist. This is an extremely disheartening, frustrating, and very dangerous reality in Canada. The fact is that most people who profess to be "animal behaviorists" or "pet behavior experts" in Canada have very little knowledge of learning theory, the scientific literature concerning applied animal behaviour and applied ethology, or the scientific literature concerning behaviour modification. Commonly individuals claiming to be "behaviorists" or "behavior experts" have completed a short course in animal behavior (either over the internet, over a weekend, a few weeks, or a few months) and have been accredited by an agency or individual rather than by an registered academic accrediting body.

In accordance with the standards of the Animal Behaviour Society a certified animal behaviorist must have at least a Masters of Science in either Ethology, Psychology, or Applied Animal Behavior, must have apprenticed for an extended period under an applied animal behaviourist certified by the Animal Behaviour Society, and must have conducted a significant amount of peer reviewed behavioral research. Unfortunately until legislation is introduced in Canada clearly defining the title of "animal behaviorist" individuals that do not meet these standards will claim to be animal behaviorists.

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