IAABC Articles and Resources

The goals of the IAABC were to standardize and support the practice of companion
animal behavior consulting, while providing resources for pet owners needing advice.

Animal Behavior Consulting 101 Part 4: Certification through IAABC

Jesse Miller on August 30, 2016


Understanding the theory behind what we do gives you flexibility in practice. Having good intuitions can get you quite far, but learning the concepts that underpin them is a whole different depth of understanding. That’s why we require than an applicant demonstrate a thorough education in the core competencies of animal behavior consulting. This education can come from college courses, online courses, professional seminars and presentations, on-the-ground experience or a mix of sources. Next week, I’ll explain more about what our Core Competencies are and why they represent the heart of evidence-based behavior consulting.

When you become certified or receive designation at any level, in any Division, you will need to demonstrate that you’re committed to staying up to date with developments in the field of animal behavior consulting by submitting proof of continuing education. I’ll be discussing how we formalize continuing education as CEUs in an upcoming post.


Experience is important, but we strive to recognize talent and dedication above all. The hours listed above are just a guide; though there are no official requirements for the length of time an applicant to any certification or designation level has been practicing animal behavior consulting, we have found that the suggested amount of experience for each level tends to lead to success in the application process.

How we evaluate applications

Each level of certification in each Division has an exam that an applicant needs to pass, to demonstrate that they’re currently able to skillfully apply the education they’ve received in our Core Competencies. Certified members must also complete a set of longer-form discussion questions about hypothetical case scenarios.

Case studies represent evidence that an applicant for Associate Certified or Certified status is able to do the job of behavior consulting at the level we require to certify them. We need to be able to understand not just what you do, but how you do it, as well as read your assessment of a problem behavior and your detailed plans for its modification and management. Associate Certified members submit two specifically-requested case studies, Certified members submit four. This is an example of the written component: Zeus Case Study.

The Shelter Behavior Affiliate Designation does not require case studies, because people who work in shelters do not tend to work with human clients and are often part of a large team working with an animal.

All designations and certification levels require three letters of recommendation. Associate Certified and Certified applicants need to have one letter from a veterinarian they have worked with, one from a client, and one from a colleague. Applicants to Affiliate designation do not need veterinarian recommendation (although they can supply one); their letters can come from employers, colleagues, or people they have studied under as part of their shelter training.

The Behavior Affiliates are designations, not certifications. This allows us to honor the experience and expertise of those invested in and serious about their work, but who do not meet the requirements for certification in an individual species. Shelter certification is not yet available.

All applications are evaluated anonymously to the evaluators. Evaluators on our application review committee are all certified members of IAABC. Each Division has its own group of evaluators. They are not given access to applicants’ names, references or identifying information.

What about Supporting Members?

Supporting members are important to us because they help us in our mission to promote evidence-based and humane animal behavior consulting, and we are always richer for the combined experience and drive for learning and sharing of information that our supporting members contribute. Supporting members can join from any profession; all you need is to share our goals. As a supporting member of IAABC, you get access to many of the benefits full members get, including free access to our conference videos, discounts on courses, and access to special projects; a great perk for trainers aiming to get certified as behavior consultants in the future.

For more information about joining IAABC and getting certified, visit our website. If you need an animal behavior consultant for your dog, parrot, horse or cat, start at our Consultant Locator.


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