WHAT IS A BEHAVIOURIST?
There are too many people who call themselves dog behaviourists but who do not have the experience and qualifications to support that claim. They are often making false promises, charging large sums of money, and can even make problem behaviours even worse. A trained, qualified and experienced behaviourist knows how to prevent or address inappropriate or problematic behaviours in dogs through behaviour modification, ongoing training, and by creating suitable environments and management regimes.
People who are awarded the ADipCBM (Advanced Diploma Canine Behaviour Management) meet the high criteria listed below. Susan has proven herself to meet this standard - with distinction.
A behaviourist must be able to:
- Work within all animal health and welfare legislation, associated codes of practice and other legislation related to animals as appropriate.
- Promote the animal's welfare at all times and adapt own behaviour if necessary to avoid creating undesirable behaviour in the animal.
- Interact with the animal in a humane manner that minimises stress and allows observation and assessment to be carried out safely.
- Assess the animal's remedial training requirements using a range of methods which could include observation, discussion with owner/keeper, assessment of veterinary surgeon, case history.
- Assess the effect of physical factors on the animal's behaviour including species, breed, parentage, sex, age, medical conditions, physiological status, developmental history.
- Assess the impact of external factors on the subsequent development of undesirable behaviour to include immediate surroundings, wider environment, environmental pressures, ethological requirements, previous experiences.
- Assess husbandry/management practices in relation to the causation and development of the undesirable behaviour including presence/absence of environmental enrichment, social contact, physical activity, human interaction, diet.
- Identify and liaise with other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons, breeders) and organisations involved in the care of the animals that you are working with to ensure a consistent and appropriate approach to remedial training that both promotes animal welfare and is legally compliant.
- Formulate a remedial training plan to address the factors identified as the cause of the undesirable behaviour.
- Discuss and agree the plan with the owner/keeper where appropriate and obtain informed consent.
- Ensure the owner/keeper understands their role and the importance of maintaining the desired behaviour once it is reached.
- Produce guidelines for owner/keeper where appropriate.
- Implement and monitor the remedial training plan.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the remedial training plan and revise accordingly.
- Maintain required records.
- Maintain a high level of professional conduct including an awareness of own limitations and refer cases on when appropriate.
- Plan, record and evaluate Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
- Select and use appropriate training aids to assist in achieving the training goals; and be able to explain and demonstrate the use and potential for mis-use of training equipment to ensure owners/keepers protect the welfare of the animal.
- Apply the principles of animal learning theory to humane training methods to achieve agreed goals.
- Teach owners and handlers physical skills associated with good practice associated with the maintenance of desirable behaviour.
A behaviourist needs to know and understand:
- How the needs of animals under their duty of care may be assessed and addressed.
- Your responsibility and accountability for duty of care of animals under current animal welfare legislation.
- Relevant health and safety policy and legislation and how to carry out a risk assessment.
- How to recognise and relate behavioural problems to species, breed, parentage, development, sex, environment, socialisation, habituation, social referencing, training, behavioural needs, medical conditions and other external or internal factors or antecedents.
- How behavioural problems can arise from the provision (or lack of provision) of resources, exercise regimes, mental stimulus or enrichment factors specific to the behavioural needs of the animal.
- The antecedents, triggers, indicators and anxiety/stress cycle of the animal that you are working with.
- The antecedents, triggers and indicators of the cycle of anxiety/stress in humans.
- The effects and implications of using aversive techniques in remedial training.
- Appreciate the potential impact of physiological and pathological factors on behaviour.
- The limitations and legal position when analysing behaviour and developing remedial training programmes.
- The relevance and importance of identifying and liaising with other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons use and clinical animal behaviourists.) involved in the care of the animals that you are working with.
- The availability, pros and cons of complementary treatments.
- Appropriate CPD to include keeping up-to-date with advances in training and behaviour.
- The principles of animal learning theory as applied to animal training, to include associative and non-associative learning, issues of stimulus control, the influence of different schedules of reinforcement, the effects of removal of reinforcement and extinction of response, the concepts and use of systematic desensitisation, counter-conditioning and flooding.
- The range of equipment available to assist in animal training, including their action and potential for mis-use.
- How to teach, support and motivate owners and handlers to develop the physical skills associated with good practice and the maintenance of desirable behaviour.
- Legal responsibilities of owners/keepers and judicial consequences of legislation designed to protect the environment, other animals and people from harm by animals.
- The importance of professional indemnity insurance.