Trainer VS Behaviourist
While you want the best for your pet, it can be confusing and often lots of money can be spent trying to find the solution for your pet's behavioural issues. While there are no specific qualifications for some titles we have tried to piece together some information to help you understand who might be best to help you with the training and management of your pet.
Trainers often have had some basic understanding or training in general pet dog training. Sometimes this includes qualifications and other times it does not. Trainers for example are sometimes those who have been training pet dogs for many years with their local obedience club and have a lot of general knowledge about training, basic behaviour problems (such as digging, jumping up and teaching basic behaviours) and perhaps some understanding of the science behind training. The title "trainer" also encompasses those who have done further study such as their "Cert III in Dog Training and Behaviour or perhaps their Cert IV in Companion Animal Services. They may be able to deal with basic behaviour issues as well. As you can see - the term "trainer" encompasses quite a wide variety of skill set and understanding of learning theory. Our recommendation when finding the right trainer for you is to look for someone who understands your pet, uses reward based training techniques and you feel comfortable with them.
Behaviourists or Animal Behaviourists are those that have continued their education above and beyond their basic certificate. This may be through further education, attending seminars and often, working with other trainers and behaviourists to develop their knowledge and understanding. Animal behaviourists also encompass those that have a degree or scientific understanding in animal behaviour and psychology. An animal behaviourist also has a deeper understanding into more in-depth behavioural issues such as separation anxiety, noise phobia's, fear, timidity and aggression. If dealing with a serious behaviour problem, we strongly suggest that you engage with a behaviourist to discuss and work through an appropriate treatment plan for your pet and your family.
A Veterinary Behaviourist are those that have not only completed their veterinary degree, but have also completed further education such as their masters in animal behaviour. Often veterinary behaviourists will be members of organisations such as MANZCVSc (Member of Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists). A veterinary behaviourist may be called upon when medications might need to be considered to help your pet through their behavioural concerns. We like to think of the difference between an animal behaviourist and a veterinary behaviourist as the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist. One works on behavioural therapies and training to help manage issues, while the other uses medication and behavioural therapies to work with your pet.
Still confused? We encourage you to give us a call and speak to us regarding what type of training will be best suited to your pet. We would be more than happy to assist!