A Behaviourist? What should that word really mean?

A ‘Behaviourist’ is about much more than letters gained through college. Some things can’t be learnt at university alone.

Wikipedia vaguely says: ‘A dog behaviourist is a person who works in modifying or changing behaviour in dogs. They can be experienced dog handlers, who have developed their experience over many years of hands-on experience, or have formal training up to degree level’.

Why do I call myself a Behaviourist?

I call myself a Behaviourist simply because it’s the word the general public and potential clients search for. They have their own concept of what a Behaviourist is and what they need.

This is what a dog ‘Behaviourist’ really is in my opinion:

  • A dog lover
  • A person lover
  • A shrink
  • A trainer
  • A friend
  • A listener
  • A motivator
  • A problem-solver
  • A supporter
  • A non-judger
  • A sponge for knowledge
  • An enthusiast for learning
  • A holder of meaningful practical qualifications
  • Someone experienced who has lived life themselves
  • A professional who is answerable and accountable

Can anyone call themselves a Behaviourist, then?

Yes, anyone can call themselves a Behaviourist. There are no qualifications legally required. The unwitting public can be blinded by a ‘Behaviourist’s’ claims to belong to associations with letters after their names that are totally meaningless.

In their desperation to get help with their dog, how many people do their research?

This is what makes public awareness of the Charter so important and membership of the leading force-free associations that continually check and vet their members for ongoing learning, ethics and standards.

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About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site: www.dogidog.co.uk
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4 Responses to A Behaviourist? What should that word really mean?

  1. Hi Theo! I love this post! Thankfully I haven’t ever felt like I needed a “behaviorist” for Ducky. I grew up in the days of “old school” dog training, but was never comfortable with it. When Ducky was younger I had a friend who convinced me to try the choke collar-leash pop method on her. But one surprised, emotionally pained response from her was enough to change my mind. Then, a few months later, through one of my blogging friends I found Jessica Dolce’s DINOS blog and then found Janet Finlay’s original YEL course and signed up. I’ve been taking Janet’s courses ever since. She, the courses, and the community of likeminded folks have been my and Ducky’s go-to emotional support ever since. And my angel dogs who spent their senior years dealing with Ducky all benefitted from all I learned from Janet as well. They are now watching over us. And Ducky has grown into a sweet, loving senior. We still have to deal with hubby’s dementia, but at least it’s easier now. Most of the time.


    • Theo Stewart says:

      Thank you for your lovely message. I love Janet Finlay as well – went to a talk just before the first lockdown. I come from old school days and am a crossover. Ducky is a lucky dog. Lucky Ducky ha ha 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lyn says:

    Great post Theo, really helpful to anyone looking for a behaviourist


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