How to Become a Dog Behaviourist

Dog behaviourists – as the title suggests – are professionals who study canine behaviour, including the triggers, motivations and influential factors behind the sudden behavioural changes. Some dog behaviourists are qualified to promote changes in the animal’s disposition to behaviour analysis and training.

Interested? Check out our Dog Behaviourist Courses.

The Role and Responsibility of a Dog Behaviourist

Let’s understand what lies ahead of you in your career as a dog behaviourist.

Many individuals claim to be ardent animal lovers. But devoting your life to understanding the complexities of canine behaviour requires patience, a drive and determination – not to mention a keen interest in the inner workings of the four-legged mind.

Two of the most common behavioural issues exhibited by dogs that have been domesticated include:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression

Dog behaviourists frequently treat these two categories, thereby reducing the risks of compromised well-being in canines and relinquishment of dogs to shelters.

Dog behaviourists try to determine the root cause of the problem.

They carefully attempt to understand the conditions – be it social, genetic, or environmental – that result in the development of behavioural problems in dogs. 

In this manner, they enhance the well-being of dogs by examining the factors that increase the chances of psychological distress. This often manifests as difficult behaviours.

Career Prospects for Dog Behaviourists

Behavioural problems are exhibited by dogs across the entire spectrum of breeds and species. Some estimates indicate that nearly 40 percent of the canine population suffers from behavioural problems. 

Dog behaviourists conduct research regarding the complex epidemiology of dog behavioural problems and offer insight into why and how these issues can develop. 

Most people interested in sharing their home with a dog and trying to keep their pets happy should have at least some idea of the nuances of dog behaviour especially if its their first pet.

A September 2019 survey found that 40 percent of households in the UK have pets, with 25 percent of them owning a dog. In fact, the 2019 PAW report found that there are currently 9.9 million dogs in the United Kingdom, a significant jump from 8.9 million pet dogs in 2018. With individuals throughout the region expanding their family by one furry member, the demand for dog behaviourists specialising in the care of canines is a rising one.

Once you’ve gathered enough experience, you can even start your own private practice and make a name for yourself in this challenging yet rewarding career path.

A lot of dog behaviourists find employment in the field of applied animal behaviour, mainly training domesticated dogs and assisting with behavioural modifications. Many dog behaviourists working in the companion animal training sector are self-employed.

Those working with dogs can also go for a media-related option, such as advertising, film, writing, and broadcasting – many of which require qualified dog behaviourists (or at the very least some form of formal education or having enrolled on a canine course) on set.

For more information on improving your career prospects check out one of our most popular 'top career tips on working with animals' article.

What Duties Does a Dog Behaviourist Fulfil?

Dog behaviourists possess the knowledge and expertise to apply the principles of animal behavioural science while studying how domesticated canines interact with one another as well as their immediate surroundings.

To understand dog behaviour you will have to research the following:

  • The way dogs communicate
  • Their instinctual responses
  • Psychology
  • Learning methods
  • Group interaction skills

In some instances, you will be required to compile a case study that determines the reason for the development of a dog’s problematic behaviour. Your goal will be to investigate if the behaviour being shown is a normal one or if it stems from some past negative experience. 

Align Your Goals and Personality with Your Career Choice

Think about the different ways in which being a dog behaviourist fits with your current lifestyle.

Consider factors like time, location, salary, possible demands, and goals to share your career path and take the right decision.

When considering a job ask yourself questions such as:

  • What are the physical demands of a dog behaviourist? That’s because depending on your work environment and location, you may have to stand or sit for several hours.
  • Are there any emotional demands of being a dog behaviourist? You may get attached to canines easily. But you have to separate yourself from the furry friends to perform your tasks effectively.
  • Will a dog behaviourist job be the correct fit for your personality? Remember you won’t just be dealing with dogs; you will have to interact with their owners as well. Plus, you must handle authorities, colleagues and public organisations.
  • Take notes about the compensation provided to dog behaviourists in the UK. The amount varies according to your location and experience. 

Gain Relevant Training and Practical Experience

For a career path as hands-on as a dog behaviourist, simply reading about it in books isn't enough. You have to build up substantial practical experience and the sooner you start this the better your career prospects.

Choose courses that help you learn about dog behaviour these courses will help you to build up a solid foundation as a dog behaviourist.

Know about Existing Research

Always stay updated on current research in the field of dog behaviour studies and associated fields by attending conferences and studying journals. Know about the trends to do your job effectively and make you an attractive hire for employers. Advertisements in publications also inform you about job opportunities.

Concluding Remarks

Animal shelters in the UK are full of dogs whose only crime was the owner didn’t take sufficient time to find out how they could help their pet resolve their behavioural problems. If you want to be part of the solution and help lovable puppies as  well as older dogs find good homes and improve their relationships with owners, a dog behaviourist is the best career choice for you.