5. Become a member of AVSAB. Get the education and training. Your practice will gain financially, you will gain intellectually,
and your clients will be so grateful that all of you will benefit in immeasurable ways from the experience.
6. Subscribe to newsletters that address behavioral concerns. Most of these are written for the dog owner, but the information
in them is unlikely to be stuff that you learned in veterinary school. Two newsletters with lots of emphasis on preventing
and treating undesirable behaviors are the Association of Pet Dog Trainers' (APDT) Newsletter and The Whole Dog Journal. These
are inexpensive and you'd be surprised how much you can learn in the bathroom.
Using dog trainers
If you become sufficiently comfortable with taking a behavioral history, working through diagnostic algorithms and making
treatment recommendations involving medication, you may still either not feel comfortable with making recommendations involving
behavior modification. You may also feel that you don't have the time in your practice to do this. That's fine, because now
the APDT has a program that certifies dog trainers. To become certified, the individual must pass a rigorous exam that focuses
on learning theory, its application in changing behaviors, and on modification techniques that are humane, rather than abusive.
Because individuals who pass the exam are now certified, the organization has a way to encourage and enforce the humane aspects
of dog training. This should be welcome news for veterinarians and clients, alike, whose concerns about abusive and scary
techniques did not receive adequate attention until recently. These certified trainers may run dog training centers or classes,
consult on an individual basis, or work with veterinarians within their practices. Depending on client volume and needs, it
may be and smart for five or six practices to co-operate and hire a certified trainer on a full-time to work with exclusively
with their clients. Such work could involve classes, specific interventions or routine puppy training.
Veterinary technicians are often underappreciated and used. There are now two techninican groups for those interested in
behavioral medicine:. The Veterinary Technician Animal Behavior Society, Inc. (VTABS) accepts full memberships from technicians
that are certified, registered and licensed and those that are not. The Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (SVBT)
restricts full membership to those technicians who are certified, registered or licensed, but has a non-voting membership
category for others. The logic of this is understandable:. SVBT's goal is to become the third certified specialty (after
ICU/Critical Care and Anesthesia) in veterinary technology. Both groups have newsletters and either conduct or alert their
members to continuing education opportunities. Veterinarians should encourage their technicians to become active in this field
and provide them with the resources to gain knowledge through continuing education that would not have been available to them
during their training. Furthermore, many technicians are interested in dog training, having a licensed technician who is
also an APDT-certified dog trainer and who belongs to a group seeking specialty status would be a boon to any practice.
- Scarlett JM, Salman MD, New JG, Kass PH. The role of veterinary practitioners in reducing dog and cat relinquishments and
euthanasias. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:306-311.
- Seksel K. Puppy Socialization Classes. Vet Clin NA: Sm Anim Pract 1998;27:465-477.
- Seksel K. Kitten Kindy® video with information booklet and leaflets, Malcolm Hunt productions, Sydney Australia: Australian
Small Animal Veterinary Association, 1998.
- Seksel K. Training your cat. Flemington, Melbourne, Australia: Hyland House, 2001.
- Weston D. The Gentle Modern Guide to Dog Training, Howell Book House, NY, 1990.
- Association of Pet Dog Trainers [APDT]; 66 Morris Avenue, #2A, Springfield, NJ 07081; 1.800.738.3647;
- The Whole Dog Journal, PO Box 420235, Palm coast, FL 32142-0235; 1.800.829.9165; www.whole-dog-journal.com