The IAABC Dog Division welcomes both seasoned and aspiring professional Dog Behavior Consultants. Learn via discussion lists, guided studies, case study tutorials, mentoring, and networking. We work together to enhance the lives of dogs and their people.
Behaviour consulting is a relatively new field in the world of animal behaviour. Behaviour consultants help animals in a very holistic way, taking into account the environment within which they live and learn, the people and other animals they interact with and the needs of their caretakers. If you are interested in the field of behaviour consulting, there are a number of skills and interests you will need to foster, as well as a drive to continue your education beyond the basics of training animals.
To begin with, it is important to understand that although an animal may need a behavioural intervention for one reason or another, the animal won’t be the one who contacts you for help! This may sound obvious but it brings with it an important implication; you will be working closely with a wide variety of people in the course of your work should you decide to become a behaviour consultant. If you don’t like helping people this may not be a good career move for you! People are going to be the ones you are working with for the most part. If you are looking for a career where you will work primarily with animals, you may want to explore other options such as pro-training (where you board and train hunting, police, movie or service dogs), horse training (where you become proficient in an equestrian discipline and bring up young horses to a level of proficiency where you can sell them to others for work, or where you can attract sponsors to pay you to compete) or even zookeeping (where you work hands on behind the scenes to train and enrich the lives of the animals in institutions). Although you need direct hands on training skills in the species that you work with, a more important aspect is understanding that you will be teaching, mentoring and supporting the people who live and work directly with the animals who need help. Behaviour consulting is a people centric career!
Behaviour consultants are very safety conscious people. We are often asked to go in and deal with animals who may be dangerous to ourselves or others, so we have to know how to set up the environment so that we can have productive consultations that are non confrontational both for the animal and the human. This means gaining an understanding of the different kinds of contact. As an example, full protected contact means that we work with the animal in such a way that we cannot get to the animal directly and nor can the animal get to us; we might work across a barrier with a food delivery system. Open contact is when we work with the animal without any barriers or safety equipment such as muzzles, leashes, harnesses, bits or bridles; we are able to completely interact with our animals and they with us. Often working safely is a puzzle that we have to figure out in the moment and the situation can change from minute to minute.
Behaviour consultants have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. In the course of your career as a behaviour consultant there will be an awful lot of elephants in the room. People will want to talk about all aspects of their lives and sometimes the topics that are brought up have little to do with the reason you are there. You will know when your clients are having marital troubles, when they lose a family member, and when they are celebrating achievements, anniversaries and losses. Behaviour consulting is intimate work where you must be comfortable and adept at handling intimate information. If you have your own issues, you need to be prepared to deal with those before you reach out to help others.
If boundaries are difficult for you to establish and maintain, behaviour consulting may be difficult to carry out successfully. You will work closely and intimately with clients and this means they may share information with you that are not a part of your work. Clients may call for help when you have booked time off, or after your normal business hours. It is up to you to help clients to understand what you can and cannot help with, and when you are available to discuss their problems. How you choose to connect with people is another boundary you may need to consider; with so many ways to connect in today’s technologically advanced world, many clients may want to connect by text, Facebook, Twitter, email and phone as well as in person. Knowing what you do, how you do it, when you do it, and by what medium you will do it allows you to be clear with yourself and your clients about how you will relate with them.
When behaviour consultants don’t set good boundaries, we can run into issues of burn out and vicarious traumatisation. Sometimes in the course of our work we will see behaviour and the outcomes of behaviour that may deeply disturb us. Resilience is not always something you can pull up on a whim, and some of the work we do may disturb us. Being part of an organization such as the IAABC can help you to find a support network to help you to recharge when you do become overwhelmed, but you should be prepared to be overwhelmed from time to time, and plan for ways to buffer yourself through activities away from animal behaviour consulting. Engaging in hobbies that take you out of the world of animals and behaviour allow you to take much needed breaks when things get difficult. It is very easy to be a behaviour consultant who does nothing outside of their species of specialization, and that can contribute to early burnout.
Finally, behaviour consultants are lifelong learners. We are never done. As the field of animal behaviour consulting grows, so too grows the body of knowledge that we have to acquire to do our jobs well. You can expect to attend conferences, read journal articles and participate in courses for the rest of your career, and you may even contribute to the knowledge base that is available.
If you are an animal lover who loves people every bit as much as you love animals, if you are aware of the importance of keeping everyone safe including the animals you work with, and you have good boundaries and a great support system and you love to learn, behaviour consulting may be a great fit for you. Before committing, you may want to join an organization such as the IAABC as a supporting member for a year or two and find out if this is really the field for you. If it is, the world has just gained another supporter for healthy relationships between people, their animals and society!
Georgina Lees-Smith: BSc Hons, Phys, Chem, Med, Biochem, ADBC (IAABC), Post Grad BNA (British Neuroscience Association) SFN (Society For Neuroscience), FENS (Federation of European Neuroscience Associations), IBRO (International Brain Research Organisation). Member of: The Genetics Society and the Society of Biology.
I have had and worked with animals for my entire life & have worked alongside, zoos, rescues, private clients, vets & other specialists (As part of my professional development I regularly shadow specialists that are relevant to the field of behaviour). I believe in a natural approach as much as possible with regards to treatment, therapy and prevention. Over the years, my specialism has developed into affective neuroscience and my approach has developed and is being fine tuned with the science of behaviour in mind.
I am developing a free choice learning protocol with a view to having a totally hands off approach to training, behaviour and animal well being. I only take on specialist cases, with a long term approach. Most of my clients I have been working with for a number of years. I am often called in to help other behaviourists. The ultimate aim is to complete my Phd in affective neuroscience, complete the book (on the neuroscience of behaviour), develop my knowledge of genetics, behaviour and establish working protocols to help other behaviour people further their practice. I have developed on-line courses for dog professionals, owners and enthusiasts (which will gain you CEUs). I aim to keep these products highly affordable and want to bring the best information to anyone who would like to find out more. My belief is that if people would like to solve a problem, they can do it with the guidance of this type of information, the aim being, to help people think and problem solve for themselves- with the ethos of free choice learning. I am a practising and subscribe to the precepts of Buddhism and meditate on a daily basis (I have also lived & worked with monks). I am putting on a series of seminars in the USA next year to introduce people to the whole story regarding neuroscience and behaviour and look forward to publishing my book. I am available for seminars and talks.
Sarah Fulcher is a dedicated and passionate dog trainer living in Trail, British Columbia, Canada. She first started working with dogs in 2001, taking in shelter animals that needed training. Volunteering as a foster home for rescue organizations for many years provided Sarah more valuable experience. She lived with and trained many different canine personalities, and has experience and success with many traditionally difficult to train breeds. Sarah is an open minded trainer who has experience with many different training methods, but discovered clicker training several years ago. She immediately found it to be a powerful training system and has enjoyed expanding her skills in marker training. She has trained several species of animals including dogs, cats, chickens, parrots, and horses.
Dedicated to continuing education, she has background in animal behaviour at university, a Certificate in Canine Behaviour Science and Technology through the Companion Animal Sciences Institute, and, most recently, completed the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional Program in 2013. She continues to grow and learn as a trainer.
Sarah is a Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants and a Certified Trick Dog Trainer. She is a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP). She presents workshops throughout North America on various subjects and was selected to do a Shorts presentation at the 2014 APDT conference. Sarah also attends several educational conferences, seminars, and webinars each year.
With her dogs (Siberian huskies, Belgian shepherd, and new Australian Shepherd puppy), Sarah has trained, competed, or titled in many dog sports including obedience, rally obedience, skijorring, dog sledding, agility, musical freestyle, herding, tricks, and nose work.
Sarah specializes in behaviour problems, but most of all, she loves helping people build positive relationships with their pets. She runs her business, Barks and Recreation Pet Services Inc., at home in Trail, BC with her husband Cameron. She and Cameron are active volunteers in their community, particularly for the local BC SPCA.
Sue Alexander is a Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant and was one of the early members of the IAABC. Sue owns and operates Dogs in the Park Inc. in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. From its earliest days as a club, Dogs in the Park has been a venue that supports families who wish to develop a deeper relationship with their dogs through a thorough understanding of the sciences of Applied Behaviour Analysis and Ethology. Sue provides a wide range of lectures on training and behaviour to her local community as well as developing and presenting webinars, blogs and articles for an international audience. Most recently, Sue has developed an in house internship program that prepares participants to pass the CPDT examination and continue on within Dogs in the Park as instructors. Sue was grandfathered into the IAABC as both a Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant and as a Service Animal Consultant, a designation granted during the inception of the organization which has since been retired. Sue delivered a presentation at the first IAABC conference on the then new field of psychiatric service dogs. She trained and placed the first recorded psychiatric service dog in Canada, and has since trained and placed many such dogs She also ran a Service Dog Conference in Guelph for 7 years, drawing attendees from all across North America. Sue was partnered for ten years with D’fer, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, who assisted her with her own mental health issues. In 2012, Sue sustained a serious head injury which has significantly limited her ability to train service dogs for others. Although Sue is no longer training service dogs for others, she continues to participate in the conversation about the role of these important dogs in society. Her particular interest is in the rights of the disabled in Canada to choose whatever treatment modality might fit them best, including the use of a dog. Sue was recognized by the City of Guelph for her advocacy for those who use service dogs to mitigate their psychiatric symptoms with an Access Award in 2010.
Currently, Sue divides her time between Guelph’s busiest behaviour program, the Good Dog program. Sue developed and shared this program in the inaugural issue of the IAABC journal, and her own dogs and horse. She continues to study Applied Behaviour Analysis, hone her riding skills and teach her dogs new behaviours to keep them fluent and happy as they age. Outside of the world of animal behaviour, Sue is interested in reading, writing, natural history, jigsaw puzzles and gardening.
Scott is the owner of USA Dog Behavior, LLC in Dallas, Texas and has been training dogs all of his life. His real joy and specialty is working with dogs who have behavioral issues including aggression and separation anxiety. He provides private consultations with clients at their location or at his location in the Dallas, Texas area. “It is not unusual for owners to be in tears when I first meet with them because they are so distraught over their dog. It’s great to turn those tears into smiles as I work with owners and their dogs and we see improvement. It’s why I do what I do.” “I am so fortunate to have my wife, Barbara, as a business partner. She fills the roles of multiple people at USA Dog Behavior, LLC. She screens and schedules new clients, acts as an expert handler during behavior modification exercises and does an incredible job of keeping USA Dog Behavior, LLC in touch with other animal professionals.”
In addition to private consultations, Scott provides seminars on behavioral issues to rescue organizations and veterinary professionals. He is the author of the Dog Aggression Online Assessment Tool that can be found at http://usadogbehavior.com/ and will soon be available on the Apple App Store.
He received his Bachelor of Science from Baylor University and then completed his education and internship at Animal Behavior College. He has received the CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer) designation from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and the CDBC (Certified Dog Behavior Consultant) designation from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
Scott is a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a certified member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and a certified member of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
Krystal is the founder of Speak Dog LLC, which is the first dedicated ‘positive’ dog training and behavior consulting company in the Tri-City and surrounding area where she lives in South-Eastern Washington. Krystal’s love for dogs and thirst for knowledge is also shared by the trainers she employs. Some of Krystal’s certifications and membership/affiliations include: Animal Behavior College Mentor Trainer, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen/S.T.A.R. Puppy/Community Canine Evaluator, American Red Cross Pet First Aid Instructor, Association of Professional Dog Trainers C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator/Premium Member, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Official Mentor Trainer, Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers CPDT-KSA, Delta Society Pet Partner, IAABC Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Love on a Leash (Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy) Member & Evaluator, SARA Service Animal Trainer, and a few more. Krystal has a passion for outreach and has designed, implemented, and managed several local dog related programs as well as offering support to local animal shelters. These programs include:
“Stress Less” a therapy dog program in partnership with a local public school - focusing on life skills classroom support and additionally using therapy dogs as tools for addressing special or difficult situations that students may be faced with under the guidance of the school counselor.
“Ridge Dogs” a prison dog training program in contract with Washington State Department of Corrections - involving taking dogs from shelters and transferring them to prison to live with and learn from their inmate dog handlers until the dogs are ready to be adopted.
“Story Time” a therapy dog reading program in partnership with a local library and also at a local private school - where children read to therapy dogs and can also participate in related activities and crafts. ‘Reflections’ a program in partnership with a local homeless teens shelter where residents are taught basic dog training and behavior concepts and are encouraged to interact in a positive and productive way with a ‘sweet, but less than perfect’ adolescent rescued resident dog.
Krystal has a strong desire to advance and actualize not only in her own career, but also to honor her own mentors by helping other behavior and training professionals along their own paths too. To learn more about her business, visit www.speakdogtricities.com
Renee Premaza is a graduate With Distinction from the Companion Animal Sciences Institute (formerly Cynology College). She is the owner of The Jersey Dog Trainer and has been professionally training dogs of all breeds and ages since 2001. She is a Certified Member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants – Dog Division, a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and a Professional Member of the Pet Professional Guild. Renee provides private, in-home training and specializes in working with mild to moderate aggression cases, separation anxiety, shyness and fearfulness, as well as educating and teaching new puppy owners how to raise and train their puppies in a positive and well-structured environment. She works in many towns and cities in the southern New Jersey area, including Camden County, Gloucester County and Burlington County as well as Cumberland County and some sections of Atlantic County. She frequently trains in Hammonton, Mays Landing, Cherry Hill, Deptford, Woodbury, Haddonfield, Voorhees, Maple Shade, Marlton, Medford, Mt. Laurel, Moorestown, Palmyra, Collingswood, Sewell, Mullica Hill and Tabernacle - just to mention a few. For more information about Renee, her training philosophy as well as her many articles, please visit her website, and her Facebook page.
Jack Grever founded Longshot Farms Canine Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Clover, SC. At his 140 acre facility, he Rehabilitates dogs and trains people to better communicate with their dogs. By employing proven dog training & psychology methods of positive reinforcement and negative punishment. Jack uses the “LIMA” philosophy—least invasive, minimally aversive methods to modify and shape behaviors in family pets and rescued shelter dogs.
Specializing in aggression cases, Jack volunteers his time and expertise at the York County Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of York, SC. Where he can use his experience taming Feral dogs in island nations and third world countries. Jack also offers himself freely to those who adopt a rescue dog to help them learn, manage and train a new shelter dog in the home.
He is featured as a spokesman for animal rights and protection in several videos for tourism and airlines. Interviewed by print and television media regarding animal welfare. Jack understands what a distressed dog needs to become the loved and trusted pet for the family. He is constantly striving to learn more advanced training methods and has studied under some of the best in the business.
Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA (member since 2005) left a 17 year career in the corporate world to move to Bangor, ME to purchase Green Acres Kennel Shop in 1995. Since then Don, his wife Paula, and their team of employees have been offering pet-friendly boarding, daycare, grooming, training classes, behavioral consultations and the sale of wholesome pet food and quality supplies to pet lovers in the greater Bangor community. Green Acres has been consistently voted the best kennel, best pet store, best dog trainer and best pet groomer in the region for several years. Green Acres offers a wide variety of group and private dog training classes as well as behavior consultations for dogs and cats. Don has been very active in the pet community, serving on the Bangor Humane Society Board of Directors from 1996-2011, including five years as its President. He was recruited to serve on the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) Education Committee in 1998. This group developed the first certification exam for professional dog trainers. He was elected to serve on the APDT Board of Trustees for nine years (2002-2007, & 2011-2013) and served three years as the Board Chair (2007, 2011, & 2012).
Don has a special interest in complementary and alternative medicine and became the first Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP) in the America’s in 2003.
In 2004 Don was asked to produce and host a weekly radio show on pets, The Woof Meow Show. Today the show is heard on three stations throughout the state of Maine and is also available as a podcast and on the Apple iTunes store.
Pamela Dennison, CWRI, CDBC (member since 2004) started her own business, Positive Motivation Dog Training, in 1996. Since then she has helped thousands of dogs and handlers build their relationships and solve problems, teaches basic obedience through competition and works with a myriad of behavioral problems, including aggression. Her 4800 sf facility is in Washington, NJ. Pam is the author of five books; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Positive Dog Training, 3rd ed (soon to be re-released as You Can Train Your Dog; Mastering the Art & Science of Modern Dog Training), Bringing Light to Shadow; A Dog Trainer’s Diary, Civilizing the City Dog, How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong and Click Your Way to Rally Obedience. Pam also has five online classes The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Positive Dog Training, 3rd ed (soon to be re-released as You Can Train Your Dog; Managing the Multiple Dog Household, Parts 1 and 2 and Cleaning up Your Act; the fussy & meticulous behaviors needed for competition obedience/rally, Parts 1 and 2.
In addition, Pam has five webinars: Finding a Reputable Rescue Group, Finding a Reputable Trainer, Helping to Create a Bombproof Dog, Setting up Your Own Aggressive Dog Classes and Tight Leash Pulling (aka Loose Leash Walking).
Pam is the author of three DVDs; Training the Whistle Recall (winner of a Maxwell for Best Training DVD) (and offers a curriculum and Certification for trainers), The Magic of Shaping; Explore the Possibilities and her NEWEST DVD: The R.E.W.A.R.D. Zone for aggressive & reactive dogs.
Pam presents seminars in the US and abroad on a myriad of topics.