Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

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Daytona
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Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by Daytona » Wed May 10, 2017 4:28 am

I know of a number of people who, having completed an animal behaviour and welfare degree, consider themselves qualified dog behaviourists.

I know anyone can call themselves a behaviourist, so it's perhaps a moot point, but I'm interested to know peoples opinions. Does this make people qualified dog behaviourists, or can they really only be considered qualified after completing some form of ABTC recognised qualification ?

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emmabeth
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Re: Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by emmabeth » Wed May 10, 2017 8:15 am

Ah haaaaaa can of worms.. meet can opener!

Right now in the UK at least, anyone can call themselves a dog behaviourist - I actually avoid that term, I am a behaviour consultant, but that could just be semantics, people do call me a behaviourist.

I have no degree, in anything (there is a somewhat devious trend lately for folk to mention they have a degree but in many instances, that degree is an Arts degree or even a science degree with no relevance to animals at all!).....

What I DO have is almost 20 years of self education, attending seminars and conferences, reading books, hands on experience with a variety of dogs from working dogs, service dogs, rescue dogs and purely pet dogs and possibly MOST importantly.. a WIDE circle of colleagues and mentors and friends from all aspects of the canine world who I talk to, bounce ideas off, who will challenge me when they think I am wrong, and will seek advice from me when they think I have valid ideas.

If I had my time over again (which makes me sound super old and I am not but for various reasons... I probably won't get OLD.. moving swiftly on..) I would probably go down the degree route but relevant degrees were not available when I was at that point in my life and are not an option for me now (financially, or work load wise - I am disabled with poor physical health!).

I don't think simply getting a degree in animal behaviour and welfare qualifies anyone as a dog behaviourist - that 'book learnin' needs to go hand in hand with real life experience in a wide range of dog related subjects AND continued professional development AND networking with other professionals.

I do think people SHOULD be a member of a respected and progressive professional body - currently I am a full member of the Pet Professional Guild who have a code of conduct and ethos that meshes well with my own (force free, do no harm, CPD etc) and also offers a lot of educational and business support.

I have previously qualified with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (following pretty rigorous assessment in person) and in the end, left them not because they aren't any good, but because they were not progressive and did not want to become members of the ABTC, and as such I didn't feel they were working with the best interests of their membership in mind.

I am currently looking for an additional professional body to align myself with - considering both PACT and INTOdogs however my physical disabilities mean I am no longer able to complete certain types of in person assessment (basically I cannot cram into a day or two days, that much physical activity!).


So the short answer is, I don't know - what I do know is I have not had a single client ask about my qualifications, know who my professional bodies are/were or give a damn, except that I can do the job and make them feel confident and able to continue wit the work themselves.

Thats not necessarily a good thing, I would LIKE it if clients actually knew which professional bodies to look for, vs which are just 'pay-to-join' clubs, and were demanding a higher level of education from their practitioners... but that isn't where we are just yet!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

DianeLDL
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Re: Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by DianeLDL » Wed May 10, 2017 4:34 pm

Emmabeth,

Great answer!

Problem is that today, people can get degrees in almost anything and call themselves whatever they want. As you so well explained, experience and staying on top of what is going on in the canine world as well as having colleagues with whom you can consult is great.

We have had bad experience with two trainers, one of whom was attending the university and I'm not sure what he was studying. But, he was the one who put Sandy on the ground just like CM would do.

A case in point as to degrees versus experience. When I went to nursing school way back when they still had 3 year diploma programs, we were looked down upon by those studying in the university nursing program. We had a lot of hands on training from our first month in school. So, in my third (senior year) we had nursing graduates from a 5 year degree program at Stanford Univerity. I worked with one of these students. She knew nothing about IVs or catheterizung a patient. She couldn't even make the bed properly. and, she herself recognized that all of her book learning gave her a lot of knowledge about diseases and such, but she knew nothing about hands on nursing.

So, Daytona, my point is that just because someone has a degree and calls themself a benariourist doesn't mean anything until you actually see what they can do and what experience they have. If all the person can do is spout out what was read in a book, with no experience, then I wouldn't consider that person much more than someone who needs an internship with someone like emmabet to learn the real world workings of how to deal with caninies.

Another point, is my nephew. He went to San Francisco State Univeriy and has an MBA is what he calls "Green". We saw his Transcript and has no math and no science. It turns out my father (his grandfather) wrote his thesis on whether it's better for public restrooms to us paper towels or hand low dryers. So, he has an MBA, but he can't get a decent job. We saw his resume. It's full of lies. Yes, he went to do an internship in China, but he got thrown out since he thought he was too good to do work and thought an intern was to supervise. Right now, grandpa has hired him to be his companion and is paying him more that his last job. (Dad/grandpa is old at nearly 90).

My point is that a degree doesn't really mean much unles one has real experience in the area and willing and able as emmabeth stated to get the experience with a reputable person or organization.

Emmabeth, I am also disabled which is why although I started to go for a masters in nursing, I could not physically do the work required. So, I understand your situation. I'm now 65 & I just consider myself retired. There's no way I can keep up with nursing at this point.

That's my two cents.
Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

DianeLDL
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Re: Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by DianeLDL » Wed May 10, 2017 4:36 pm

Emmabeth,

You did a great job with the forum site. I like the logo, and the questions to prove I'm not a robot. When asked how many gas stations, it took me a while since my eyes weren't working too well, but I must have passed since I was able to post.

Kudos! :D :D
Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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Nettle
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Re: Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by Nettle » Thu May 11, 2017 3:53 am

Wot Emmabeth said! :D

I am another with various letters after my name and memberships of a few bodies related to dog behaviour, but I regard my people skills (obtained in another arena) as vital to the dog behaviour training I do. It's no good being a red-hot dog behaviour trainer if clients are made to feel anxious or belittled - my job is to empower them, to be able to explain in different ways if they don't harmonise with the first explanation, and to be able to mix with dukes and dustmen with equal competence. No training course (yet) offers this kind of life skill.

I have eschewed certain respected professional bodies because I do not agree with their codes of conduct - for instance I am opposed to early and unnecessary neutering, and this mantra is chanted by a great many of the above. I paddle my own canoe, I get very good results, I work with a progressive veterinary surgery and I am not afraid to refer if I think the issue is outside my remit.

Therefore I would say (as I have in a similar post) that the University of Life is the best grounding for anyone working with dog behaviour. Clients like to know one has studied and qualified, but in all honesty I have yet to meet a study course/institution that is a match for actual experience. I'm not saying we shouldn't get qualifications - I think we should - but I am saying that the study course is only as good as those who wrote it and marked it, and the dog is our greatest teacher.
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Shalista
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Re: Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by Shalista » Sun May 14, 2017 9:12 am

As an occasional consumer of behaviorist services i find that deeply disconcerting. :shock: so you just sign up a random person and hope for the best? if the initials don't mean anything there's no way to tell if someones good until they get their proverbial paws on your dog and you're 60$ deep.
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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JudyN
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Re: Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by JudyN » Sun May 14, 2017 9:51 am

If I were looking for a behaviourist, ideally I'd like them to have some sort of qualification from a positive dog training organisation, but then I'd be looking for LOADS of experience with a whole range of types of dogs with different issues and backgrounds, including a good working knowledge of sighthounds. Any advice that sounds as if it came from the pages of the book, and any suggestion that if I just follow the steps I'll crack the problem, I'd be dubious of, because in my experience you have to try an approach starting at a level the dog is comfortable with, build up, and - most important - monitor what the dog's doing and working out what he's thinking, and taking that into account before progressing. It's the difference between painting by numbers and painting a masterpiece. And to continue the analogy, when you're painting a work of art, you have to spend about 90% of your time looking, thinking, and weighing up options, and only 10% of your time actually painting.

So it would have to be a relationship - I would use the behaviourist to get new ideas and insights, but I would expect the behaviourist to consider very carefully what I tell them about my dog's behaviour, and try to see him as a unique individual with his own quirks and ways of thinking.

Hopefully, a good behaviourist would allow you to take the time to question them and give you their initial thoughts on what their approach to your dog's issues would be based on your description. But there must be a balance as I bet a lot of people try to worm as much info as they can out of a behaviourist in the hope they can benefit from their knowledge without having to pay a penny.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: Behaviourist degree qualifications - relevance ?

Post by Nettle » Mon May 15, 2017 2:06 am

Another very insightful post, JudyN.

You can actually tell a lot from a telephone call - both ways. But fishing for a free consultation is frequently encountered too. The client can stop the consultation at any time if they don't like what the trainer is doing or is about to do. The trainer can (and should) say at any point if the owner's expectations are unrealistic, and why, and offer alternatives.

Good trainers want to know all about your dog - type/breed, background, typical day, feeding, training so far, and above all exactly what the owner wants the dog to do or stop doing. This is all part of the initial phone call.
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