Due to the dog world currently being unregulated, there are no laws that determine what qualifications and qualities are required for a dog trainer or behaviourist. A dog trainer and behaviourist can use similar techniques and be able to help you in both areas, however, there is a distinct difference in what services can be offered and how each person can help you.

These two terms are useful in helping you determine what is required to help you and your dog.

A dog trainer is qualified to deliver techniques to train your dog to display certain behaviours with command words. Obedience classes are an example of how trainers demonstrate their techniques so that you can teach your dog to sit, stay, heel and recall, alongside many other actions and tasks as you progress through levels. Dog trainers can also teach agility and other active sports, as well as train in search and rescue.  A dog trainer can help with general behaviour and help change problem behaviours. However, a trainer should know their limits and when to pass on cases to someone more equipped or experienced.

A behaviourist look more in-depth into psychological factors and the emotional state of mind of the dog. Behaviourists will explore the reasons of why the dog is barking, and even look at potential biological reasons for behaviours. They can teach your dog new training actions, alongside looking at the following; anxiety, aggression, abnormal and repetitive behaviours, and fear. A behaviour is then modified with reconditioning and reinforcement, with gentle exposure to the triggering stimulus. This will hopefully help the dog overtime their reactive behaviour and learn how to respond differently. Behaviourist’s may not be able to get the dog to overcome their reactivity, however they can teach the owner how to manage the behaviour.

When hiring a dog trainer or behaviourist it is important that you ask what qualifications they have gained so that you can understand how they can help you and what practical experience they have.


All images on this post from google.