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About Veterinary Behavior

Veterinary Behaviorists

A veterinary behaviorist is a veterinarian who specializes and is board-certified in the field of animal behavior. The initials "DACVB" (Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists) are usually listed in the specialist's signature. Veterinary behaviorists are qualified to diagnose and treat both medical and primary behavioral conditions in animals, including prescription of medications if needed. After completing veterinary school, the veterinarian must complete an internship and then a clinical residency program in behavioral medicine. As part of the training towards specialty certification, the veterinarian must see and treat hundreds of behavior cases, study the principles of ethology and behavior in all species, submit clinical case reports, conduct and publish research in a scientific journal, and pass a 2-day board examination in behavioral medicine. The successful candidate is then board-certified as a specialist in animal behavior. Currently there are 55 veterinarians worldwide board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists

Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB) are individuals who have completed graduate-level (Masters, Doctorate or a veterinary degree with a behavior residency) training at an accredited university in the field of animal behavior, have demonstrated skill in applied behavior and training, and have met the requirements for credentialing by the Animal Behavior Society. CAABs may incude both veterinarians and non-veterinarians, and most often have advanced degrees in ethology, animal behavior, experimental psychology and other related fields. Currently there are fewer than 50 CAABs.

Certified Pet Dog Trainers

A certified pet dog trainer, or CPDT, is a dog trainer who has met the requirements for certification by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. This group certifies trainers on the basis of humane standards of competence in animal training and behavior, standardized testing and continuing education.

Behaviorists / Pet Behavior Consultants

"Behaviorist", "animal behaviorist", "pet behavior consultant", "animal behavior specialist" and other related titles can be used by anyone, with no specific background or education required. The only two titles with certified credentialing in animal behavior are Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB) and Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. It is therefore important to carefully review the qualifications, education and experience of any individual who claims to be a behavior specialist.