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Training your staff to handle behavior counseling


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.

Staff opportunities 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.

Suggested Reading

  • 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;


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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