By Linda Cole
Trying to train a dog that has behavior issues can be frustrating. For some owners, a qualified trainer can help dogs work through minor issues they may have. But serious behavioral problems need a professional eye to help a dog or cat owner deal with specific issues. What does an animal behaviorist do, and how do they help your pet? When you need to consult with an expert, what can you expect from them?
Animal behaviorists are people who love animals and study them to learn and understand animal behavior – why they do things and act in certain ways. They look at the animal’s environment and try to find what caused the behavior. One mistaken belief some pet owners have is that a good dog trainer is also an animal behaviorist and vice versa. That may be true for some trainers and animal behaviorists, but not usually.
Animal behaviorists typically have a specialized field of study in specific animals like birds, livestock, fish, reptiles, wild animals, or pets. It’s common to find a behaviorist whose expertise is in certain kinds of behavior, e.g., how animals mate, how they raise their young, how they defend themselves and their food and how they hunt. When you need to consult with an expert for a dog or cat with behavior issues, you need to make sure the person works with household pets and has experience in the area your pet needs help with.