Am I a behaviourist?

The short answer is no. I’m a trainer with a special interest in dog & cat behaviour… a “behavioural trainer” if you like.

The long answer is an awkward topic. I don’t like to call anyone out for what they call themselves and how they operate their business. Especially not in an unregulated industry. You do you.

It’s just hard enough for a client to find someone to help them, without there being confusion around what we are. And it’s weird mid-session to be compared and considered “less than” someone with fewer actual qualifications than me, because they have a fancier title. It’s also sad that the client has potentially spent so much money on two of us, when neither of us can do things like prescribe meds. Only vets and Veterinary Behaviourists can do that (hopefully with a good behaviour modification plan and/or in consultation with a trainer if possible).

Have a look at this flowchart (credit on image, I sourced from this blog):

Note, in Australia the letters after a Veterinary Behaviourists name may differ; check out the list at the ANZCVS Veterinary Behaviour Chapter.

I do not have letters after my name. I am a trainer. My qualification is a Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services. The industry internationally does have a number of opt-in associations that offer/enforce certification as part of the ongoing membership requirements. I am a member of the IACP and can through them obtain a CDT (Certified Dog Trainer). This would give me CDT after my name, and I’d still be a trainer. For clarity, I reserve “behaviourist” for veterinary behaviourists.

I could also mention here that qualifications & titles alone do not make someone good at what they do. Especially in this industry… Training is a craft that also requires hands-on experience of the animals, demonstrable ability in the chosen specialised area, commitment to ongoing learning, passion, compassion… but I am getting side-tracked.

So no, I’m not a “behaviourist”. Nor a behaviouralist, which is a whole other thing. I am a trainer. And I can help you develop your puppy, train your dog, and work on problem behaviours your cat or dog has. I will work with your vet, trainer, physio, and anyone else on your pet’s team to help you live your best lives together.

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