Animal behaviour is misunderstood by much of the population, including many practicing professionals. Behaviour problems cause more deaths and decisions to euthanise than cardiac disease, infectious disease and cancer combined, in addition, keeping a dog is a potential minefield with serious legal consequences when it goes wrong. Despite this, the training and behaviour professions are unregulated with anyone able to practice as a behaviourist!
As you can see there is a real need for regulation to ensure that only qualified people are able to practice. We have been self-regulating within the profession for some time and the standard of qualification for a Clinical Animal Behaviourist (or CAB) is very high. Trainees need a relevant degree and there is also an experiential requirement to observe qualified professionals consulting and for on-going supervision.
Qualification is externally accredited through the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour or ASAB (www.asab.org/ccab) and once qualified, all clinical animal behaviourists (CAB’s) are listed on a register held by the Animal Behaviour and Training Council or ABTC (www.abtcouncil.org.uk) I got qualified through the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors or APBC (apbc.org.uk) in 2007 before the ABTC was established. The APBC is a founder member of the ABTC and is working towards the same ends. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons or RCVS (www.rcvs.org.uk) are currently in talks with the ABTC and we are hopeful within the profession that regulation by the veterinary college will take place over the next year or so. Vets will then only able to recommend qualified individuals listed on the ABTC register. As you can see, this should improve welfare of both pets and their owners.