What the job involves
Clinical Animal Behaviourists work on veterinary referral, helping the owners of companion animals such as dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and other small furries, and birds resolve behavioural problems through diagnosis of the problem behaviour and application of an individual behaviour modification program. Clinical Animal Behaviourists often also give talks and demonstrations, and provide mentoring and training for those wishing to enter the profession.
You will need to be as committed to working with people as you are to working with their animals. You will also need to have strong academic skills as well as the ability to apply what you learn. You will need to be prepared to commit to continuous professional development (CPD).
You will also need to have good listening skills, be able to quickly gain rapport with both animals and their owners, as well as having good analytical and communication skills.
Animal behaviour consultations may take place in a clinic, the owner’s home, or in an outside location such as at a livery stables, so you may need to be prepared to travel. You will be required to concentrate and give the owner and their animal your undivided attention for up to two to three hours at a time, and also spend some time preparing reports and liaising with owners and the veterinary team.
Qualifications and training
You will need to be educated to degree level or higher in areas specific to clinical animal behaviour including ethology, learning theory, human psychology, animal welfare, ethics and clinical case studies. There is a range of suitable courses designed for entry into the profession. You may also begin your career pathway by working as an animal trainer or carer, or within the veterinary team in order to gain hands on experience.
What qualifications to I need to start as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist?
You will need at least a degree or other FHEC level 6 academic qualification relevant to clinical animal behaviour so that you are able to progress on to the pathway for CCAB accreditation (see further information below).
Getting into the profession
You will normally need to a have a relevant degree level qualification or higher. You may choose to become self-employed, in which case you will need to introduce your services to your local veterinary practices. It is helpful to join a widely recognised professional membership organisation such as the Association for Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) or other Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) recognised organisation. Occasionally some of the animal welfare organisations and veterinary teaching hospitals have full and part time vacancies for clinical animal behaviourists.
Salary and benefits
As a self-employed clinical animal behaviourist you decide what you charge and how frequently you see cases, as well as what other services you may offer such as follow-up remedial training or training classes.
As you gain experience within the field you may be able to lecture on university courses with clinical animal behaviour programmes, and offer mentoring services to those joining the profession. You may also be paid for providing articles to magazines and journals, and this can extend your earnings potential.
- Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors
- The Animal Behaviour and Training Council
- The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour