Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorists are specialists in veterinary behavior medicine. Also called diplomates, they are veterinarians that undergo 3-5 more years of specialty training in a residency program that includes study of ethology, abnormal behavior, neurology, neuropharmacology, and other related topics. They also teach, see cases under the mentor's supervision, and perform an original experiment; the results must be published in a a peer-reviewed journal. Finally, they must pass a comprehensive 2 day, 16 hr. examination. Some work in universities or with industry or non-profit groups. Because we are veterinarians, we are held to a high standard of practice by law. Trainers, pet counselors or self-titled behaviorists that are not veterinarians have limited or no accountability. Do your homework and find exactly what their qualifications are beyond what they are claiming to be.
Most cases that present to a veterinary behaviorist are pets displaying abnormal behaviors. The problems are not due to willful disobedience, training deficiencies or vengeful pets. Fortunately for us, animals do things for different reasons than we do. While some actions may look like revenge, spitefulness or defiance, once you understand a behavior from the point of view of the specific animal species, a different explanation becomes clear. Working with animals is not about dominating them or teaching them who is boss; you do have to set rules but once you understand how learning take place, you can teach the rules without resorting to fear, pain or force.