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A Clinical Animal Behaviourist differs form a dog trainer in that they not only have practical experience in training and teaching dogs, but they also have a minimum of graduate level academic experience of the ethology, psychology, neurophysiology, pharmacology, legal and welfare issues associated with a wide range of companion animal species and that are essential for assisting owners in treating their pet's behaviour problems.

Clinical Animal Behaviourists are registered by the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) and work with individual pet owners, other animal professionals, and facilities that care for animals in order to manage behaviour problems and improve the wellbeing of animals. Behavioural problems can result from a neurochemical imbalance, a medical condition, learned fearful associations, or conflict over rules and social structure.

A Clinical Animal Behaviourist liaises with your veterinary surgeon to help to determine whether or not there is a medical component to a behaviour problem, they then ensure that any behavioural modification plan is specific to the individual animal and their circumstances and, if necessary, that the plan is integrated into any medical treatment plan that your veterinary surgeon considers to be part of your pet's welfare needs. A clinical animal behaviourist will take a detailed behavioural history and will assess this alongside your pet's medical history, they will weed out irrelevant information, and base the behavioural modification and environmental management plan on the pertinent behavioural and medical information. This ability to take a good history and to ascertain relevant facts is essential and is often overlooked as a necessary skill when working with behaviour problems.

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