Do I Need a Dog Behaviorist?



Do you need a dog behaviorist? I’ll get directly to the point with a somewhat vague answer. It depends.

The answer is “No, you do not need a dog behaviorist”  if:

  • You’re interested in teaching your dog manners and tricks. Dog trainers are excellent at this work
  • Your dog is a puppy who has typical developmental (and annoying) behavior. Again, qualified and certified dog trainers are the experts you need.
  • If your dog has some interesting or quirky behavior that is not a problem to you, is not a cause of or sign of suffering, and is not a danger to himself or others. Every dog has is own behaviors that make him or her special. Don’t let anyone dog shame you.

The answer is “Yes, you do need a dog behaviorist” if:

  • There is a particular behavior or pattern of behavior that you want to change. This is especially the case if your dog is suffering (for example with separation anxiety) or if you dog is a danger to himself or others (for example if he has aggressive dog behavior toward other dogs or humans).
  • But, this also depends on what the definition of dog behaviorist is (see below). At Michael’s Dogs we are Certified Dog Behavior Consultants who specialize in behavior-change. In other words, we teach training techniques and lifestyle adjustments aimed at changing patters of unwanted, emotionally painful, or dangerous behavior. Some people use the label dog behaviorist for us. Others use behavioralist, dog behavior expert, trainer, or even aggressive dog trainer. We are, in fact, behavior consultants and dog trainers who focus on this one aspect of dog behavior:  its propensity to change and the specific interventions available to influence that change for the better.

So, what is a dog behaviorist? That also depends on whom you ask. Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorists lay claim to the legal title. They have state licenses to practice veterinary medicine and board certification to specialize in animal behavior. Most also have extensive hands-on experience with dogs as well as training acumen. (Think: book knowledge and street cred). Others may appropriate the title without any significant training experience or clinical background (Think PhD researcher). As a rule, while Certified Dog Behavior Consultants and Certified Professional Dog Trainers are sometimes referred to as dog behaviorists we do not use that misnomer when referring to ourselves.

Michael Baugh is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. He and his team teach dog behavior and dog training in Humble Texas, Kingwood, Houston, and Katy.