CORRECTING BEHAVIORS IN YOUR PETS: DO YOU NEED A TRAINER OR A BEHAVIORIST?
Do you know the difference between a Dog Trainer and a Dog Behaviorist or under what circumstances to hire either of these pet professionals? While obedience and behavior training look very similar, the objective, result and reward system are very different. The distinction is simple yet critical.
A trainer generally is an obedience instructor. Obedience training uses commands to teach adaptable behaviors such as come, fetch, sit, down or roll over that are prompted by verbal command or hand signals. It’s a process of you learning your dog’s language and your dog learning your language.
A behaviorist is a discipline rooted in structure and leadership that is meant to deter deep rooted manners such as anxiety, aggression and fear. Behavior modification identifies the root cause of unwanted behaviors and reworks the physiological and psychological state of the dog that obedience training cannot alter.
In short, a trainer creates actions whereas a behaviorist minimizes negative emotional reactions.
Your dog may need a trainer if:
- He/she needs to be housebroken
- He/she needs leash training
- He/she jumps on people
A dog learns from every interaction it has with its environment. This can be through classical conditioning (forming an association between two stimuli) non-associative learning (behavior is modified through habituation or sensitization) and operant conditioning (forming an association between a behavior and a consequence).
Your dog need a Behaviorist if:
He/she was attacked by another dog and is now demonstrates fear reactions
He/she experienced a hurricane, car accident or household accident (fire)
He/she survived physical/emotional abuse from previous owners
He/she was homeless
Now that we know the difference, the first thing is to determine your needs and objectives and what steps to take.
1. Decide what you are seeking; are you looking to make a behavior happen or problems go away?
2. Research industry professionals, check for credentials, references and testimonials as this is a non-regulated industry. A Dog Behaviorist is a professional dog handler who holds a graduate degree and professional certification with many years of hands on experience. Typically Behaviorists have background in veterinary science, animal science, zoology, sociology, biology or animal behavior.
3. Observe your pet consistently so you can clearly articulate the issue for the root cause to be determined.
4. After seeking advice and techniques, consistency is key! Training and behavior modification practices don’t stop with the professional; you must continue these principles daily to achieve the desired results.