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 Dog trainer vs Dog Behaviourist

What is the difference between a Dog trainer, Dog Behaviourist and Veterinary Behaviourist? These titles are often used interchangeably, confusing dog owners as to the best solution for their dog.

Focus On Dog Training has put together the below guide to help you understand each of these titles and what they mean for you and your dog.

What is the difference between a Dog Trainer and a Dog Behaviourist?

Truthfully, any differences between the two are subtle and come down to experience as opposed to qualifications.

Dog Trainers

A Dog Trainer works on obedience, such as teaching your dog to sit, down, walk on the leash and come when called. They may also teach agility, and scent work.

Dog Behaviourist

Will do the above whilst also working on major (and minor) behavioural issues your dog may have which sit outside basic training needs. They will assist to modify your dog’s behaviour. Some examples of things they could work on are; reactivity, aggression, separation anxiety, in-home dog fighting etc.

Do you need specific qualifications to be either?

No. However, when looking for a Dog Behaviourist or Dog Trainer. A reputable one should hold a relevant qualification such as National Dog Trainers Federation which Focus On Dog Training’s trainer holds.

Can someone be both a Dog trainer and a Dog Behaviourist?

Yes. If the professional has experience in training dogs and assisting to modify their behaviour, they can give themselves either title.

What is a Veterinary Behaviourist?

A Veterinary Behaviourist is a qualified Vet who has some knowledge in the behaviour of animals (not always just dogs). The level of dog specific knowledge varies from one veterinary behaviourist to the other. They are qualified and legally allowed to prescribe medication to dogs. A dog Trainer or Dog Behaviourist is not.

It is important to note that Veterinary behaviourist consults attract a significantly higher price tag and they are often not specialised in dog behaviour exclusively and rarely offer ongoing training.

There are no technical differences between a Dog Trainer and Dog Behaviourist, allowing professionals to market themselves as both. When looking for the right choice for your dog, ensure you pick someone with relevant experience in both dog training and dog beahaviour modification.