Merck Manual

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Where to Get Help

Where to Get Help

Owners seeking help for a behavior problem with their pet can turn to several sources. The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes a variety of specialties within veterinary medicine. Similar to specialties in human medicine, these include veterinarians who are board-certified in surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology (eye care), dentistry, behavior, and many other areas of expertise. Most board-certified veterinary behaviorists work in veterinary colleges or private referral practices.

Other resources include: the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's Find a Consultant tool; the Pet Professional Guild for information on force-free dog training; and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists,

There are also veterinarians who are not board-certified, but who have a special interest in behavior. These veterinarians have a range of experience and expertise in the field, and many offer consultations as a part of their regular veterinary practice.

In addition, nonveterinarians sometimes call themselves behaviorists and offer counseling on behavior problems of pets. Some have a doctoral or master’s degree in psychology or a related field, and some have earned a certification. Others, primarily dog trainers, have no formal education in behavior but offer advice on solving behavior problems. Owners who need help for their pet should ask about the background and training of the person offering the behavior consultation before setting up an appointment. Because many behavior problems in pets can be influenced by medical conditions, veterinarians are the professionals who can offer the most comprehensive care.