Any Trainer can handle all Behavior Problems


Any trainer can handle all behavior problems [Busting Training Myth]

Sending a dog with a behavior problem to the wrong person can be as dangerous as not recommending any treatment. Not all trainers and behaviorists are the same. Explain to your clients that anyone can call himself a behaviorist or a trainer without having any education in the field. Making the wrong choice can have potentially devastating consequences to their pets’ health and well-being.

Referral to a trainer

Veterinarians need to have a basic knowledge of learning theory so they can tell the difference between a trainer using appropriate techniques and one using dangerous, outdated techniques. Even if you have the interest and the knowledge, if you are in a busy practice you may not have time to demonstrate training methods. So it is critical that you know which trainers in your area you can safely send your clients to.

Trainers are especially helpful for a pet that needs basic training such as learning to sit, stay, or come on command. A good trainer uses primarily reward-based training, doesn’t insist that a pet owner do anything ethologically unsound or dangerous (e.g. trying to force a dog over in an alpha roll), and is willing to work with other professionals such as a veterinarian to develop a plan that works for the individual. The AVSAB has an excellent position statement on behavior professionals and how to choose a trainer (http://www.avsabonline.org/).

Referral to a veterinary behaviorist

Be prepared to refer a pet that has a problem that may be anxiety-related (e.g.barking or housesoiling) or that poses a public health threat (e.g. aggression) to an appropriate professional when you do not feel comfortable handling the case. The ideal first choice would be a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. Veterinary behaviorists (diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists [ACVB]) are licensed veterinarians who have undergone extensive training in the science of behavior, psychopharmacology, learning theory, and behavioral development. They are in the best position to recognize the complex ways in which medical conditions affect behavior and have a good understanding of how genetics and environment interact to contribute to behavior problems.

Although there are still too few veterinary behaviorists to serve every community in the United States, it is your professional duty to tell clients where the nearest diplomate is and allow clients to make informed decisions about their pets’ treatment. Many clients will readily drive several hours to get the best possible care for their pets.

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