The Difference Between Behaviorist and Trainer

What is the difference from a trainer that handles behavior problems and a behaviorist?

A board certified behaviorist has studied applied canine behavior at a licensed graduate school and after school, they have met requirements of either a independent certifying board or an approved veterinary school. They understand behavioral concepts as well as applied canine behavior.

A trainer is someone that has learned how to teach a dog a set of skills. An example of this would be obedience, tracking, agility, search and rescue, patrol work, etc. We do not knock trainers as it is very good to have your dog trained and we offer training ourselves, and we deal with many trainers when their clients start to exhibit behavioral problems that traditional training does not resolve.

A trainer does not however, have the education to understand how to diagnose and alter behavioral problems. A trainer will try resolving the symptoms they see but not the underlying cause of the behavior.

When someone states that they handle behavior problems, you will often see terms such as counter-conditioning & desensitization. While this sounds impressive, it should be a red flag. There are many types of behavior modification approaches and by listing one or two names, they are telegraphing the fact that they do not really understand the concepts of applied canine behavior.