Difference Between Dog Trainer and Behaviorists

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Animals are no longer considered outsiders to the family or the community they live in. When an animal, pet or otherwise, fall sick, or shows sudden behavioral changes, or is not his or her usual self, owners look for a professional to treat their beloved.

Understanding the difference between animal trainers and behaviorists becomes important because you would want the right professional giving the right treatment to your animal.

Given here are some key differences between animal trainers and behaviorists to help you decide:

Training VS Treating

Trainers are professionals who impart a specific skill-set to animals. For example, if you want your dog to learn to obey your orders and sit or stand accordingly, then your animal needs a trainer. If you are trying to teach your pet to walk on a leash, then again, a trainer is the best person to leave your dog to.

A behaviorist, on the other hand, is one who analyzes your animal’s behavior. If your pet has been having behavioral issues lately, then a behaviorist is the person you need to approach for diagnosis and treatment.

A behaviorist will study symptoms such as abnormal barking, destructive chewing, unexplained fear or aggression, or others, in animals, and understand the underlying cause for the abnormal behavior. He or she will then create a plan of action to address the issue.

Practice VS Observation

Practice or reiteration is a key method used by trainers to cultivate desired skills in animals and ensure that such skills stay with them. Trainers work either individually with each pet or conduct a group session involving a set of pets, as part of training. They may work with animal owners from the beginning of the training period so that owners can carry out practice sessions at home.

Observation is the foundation of a behaviorist’s job. They begin by studying the animal in his or her natural environment to identify behavioral triggers. They then replicate the environment and include triggers. They then place the pet in the induced environment and work on modifying its response gradually.

Self-Training VS Professional Training

Animal trainers can be self-taught. Some trainers may acquire training skill by working for other trainers. There are also multiple certification courses to teach trainers for their job. There is, for example, the CCPDT – Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers – that is globally recognized. No matter how a trainer acquires his or her skill, it is important to know if the trainer has had more than enough practice to perform his or her job efficiently.

Animal behaviorists, however, come with higher qualifications. An animal behaviorist usually has a PhD, MA, or MS degree in animal behavior. Some may have an additional qualification such as a CAAB (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists) certification. Such education is key to their ability to understand abnormal animal behaviors and modify them. When choosing a professional, pay attention to how your animal responds to the person. It is important to consider your animal’s basic trust and comfort levels with the trainer or behaviorist to derive the best results.