Watching Cesar Millan in his wildly popular TV show “The Dog Whisperer”, one may wonder “what is a dog behavourist exactly?”
Let’s delve into this interesting subject to discover what a dog behaviourist is.
A dog behavourist is not the same as a dog trainer
A good distinction between a dog behavourist and a dog trainer is the aspect of understanding rather than just changing.
A dog trainer will generally focus only on amending canine behaviour, rather than a dog behavourist will actually attempt to understand the reasoning behind the behaviour.
A dog trainer can help with the basic canine manners – sit, stay, walking on a leash etc. – and perhaps teach dogs to avoid destructive behaviour.
However, a dog behavourist will examine the dog and its behaviour in more depth, to try understand why the dog acts in particular ways. Only when the reasons are understood and explained, can the appropriate training commence.
A key aspect here where a dog behavourist will be beneficial, is that it may not necessarily be the dog requires training. It could be for instance, the reasons why a dog behaves a certain way is a reaction to human behaviour – therefore it may be the human who needs behaviour modification, not the dog!
How can a dog behaviourist help?
Dog behaviourists work by getting to the root cause of any canine behavioural issues. It could be your dog has been badly treated, poorly bred or just learned bad behaviours during its formative years or social enviroment.
For example, a dog could exhibit ‘fear biting’, be particularly aggressive or even just anti-social to anyone but its owner.
Where training does not always work, is when it’s a shortcut to ideal behaviour without understanding the factors leading to the behaviour.
One only has to Google ‘Pavlov’s Dogs’ to learn how dogs are pliable to reactive behaviours, so training them out of the behaviour is not always the best remedy. Avoiding the factors that cause the reactions, or simply understanding the puppy’s mind, are only two aspects where a dog behavourist can resolve the situation effectively.
What will a dog behavourist do with my dog?
Before training, a dog behavourist will work with your dog to understand it. This is of paramount importance, because it may be a simple thing to amend the behaviour and not even require any form of dog training.
Dogs, just like human, have emotional, biological and evolutionary traits that can be easily triggered, and often it’s simply a case of understanding how better behaviour can be implemented – by the dog, its owner and people around it.
A good dog behaviourist will look at the environment surrounding a dog – the people around it, the home it lives in, and what its exposed to during a normal day. Families will be watched, interviewed and advised as to how they can encourage good behaviour and outcomes with the dog.
A good dog behaviourist will make your canine best friend even friendlier