Animal behaviorists study the behavioral patterns of animals, most usually in their native habitat. They also work to find solutions to correct negative behaviors, such as issues of aggression, destructive behavior, biting, inappropriate elimination, and other issues which cause the pet owner grief. Most consultants work with veterinarians who recommend that their clients contact the behaviorist who visits the pet at the pet’s home. The behaviorist observes the animal, diagnoses the problem, and then formulates a plan to help the pet. Many of these plans include techniques, such as positive reinforcement, behavior modification, and training. To become an animal behaviorist, individuals must complete extensive college hours, training, and have multiple degrees and certifications.
Students who want to become an animal behaviorist should pay close attention to the coursework they register to take. Most undergraduate students need at least twenty-one-semester credits in behavioral science courses, plus six-semester credits in ethology, animal behavior and/or comparative psychology, and six-semester credits in animal learning, conditioning and/or animal psychology.
Some colleges will allow the experience to be traded for coursework. For example, if the student demonstrates the ability to perform independently and professionally in applied animal behavior duties, such as performing independent studies, data analysis, formulation and testing of hypotheses, and professional writing then the student should present their years of experiential work to the college.
Experience like this can be obtain by working as a researcher, research assistant, or intern working with a certified applied animal behaviorist.
To obtain a certification as an animal behaviorist, students need to complete their master’s degree in biology or behavioral science with an emphasis on animal behavior. Then the student will need to pursue their doctorate degree in the same fields with the same emphasis. Once the student has received their required degrees then the student will need experience working interactively with a particular species as a researcher, research assistant, or as an intern with a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.
All students must maintain liability insurance and will be asked to show proof of insurance when they apply for certification. The certification will require a fee and is only valid for five years.
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
Business owners who are certified and trained properly will be more successful than those who are not. Animal behaviorists work out of their home and are often veterinarians who wish to make extra income or who want to begin a new career. The behaviorist will need to market the consulting business by using the Internet or traditional methods like print media or television media. Once contacted by a pet owner, the behaviorist will observe the pet in the pet’s home. Then after sufficient data is collected, the behaviorist reviews the notes and then formulates a plan to correct inappropriate behavior.