All Facts and Fakes About Animal Behaviorist

On the previous article, we know that the study of animal behavior is important for us. Animal behaviorism is a scientific study that involves investigating what animals do, for examples, we study how they find food resources, how they defend themselves from predators, how they choose their mates, reproduce, until how they raise their young

People who have a concern about all these subjects are called animal behaviorists. Not only about what animals do, but animal behaviorists also investigate how the behavior develop over their lifetime due to genes and experience. 

Animal behaviorist might be one of the jobs that you don’t familiar with. There are still many misconceptions around them, about who are they exactly and what they do, or how do they earn their title. Here is some explanation that can help you to understand animal behaviorist better. Who knows you are interested to become one of them, right?

All Facts and Fakes About Animal Behaviorist

1. Animal behaviorist is not the same with animal trainer

You have probably heard about animal trainer, especially dog trainers. Sometimes the owner of dogs is confused to differentiate between animal behaviorist and animal trainer. The truth is both of them are completely different but still complement each other.

Animal trainer, just like the name, trains certain animals to perform specific tasks or activities. The usual animal trainer that we find is dog trainer since dog is one of the smartest animals. Animal trainer can work with minor behavioral issues on animal, but they still have limits and do not deal with these problems. 

The one who can handle serious behavioral problems is animal behaviorists. Their focus is not on how to train the animal to perform certain tasks or actions like animal trainers. Instead, they are shaping the behavior in animals and tend to work with animals, where most pets, if they have behavior problems. They don’t ‘tell’ pet what to do, but they will consult to you about how you treat your pet, and then give you advice how to deal and how to work with your pet so your pet can have better behavior. 

From here we already can see that animal behaviorists are not concerned with animal training. Why? Because they believed that the main reason for animal’s behavior problem has nothing to do with training. Instead, they are observing the relationship between human or owner of the pet and the pet itself. They include human interaction and animals’ environment in their study to understand and try to find what caused certain behavior. But, if the pet or animal needs medication for medical condition, they have to work with other professionals, which are veterinarians. 

2. Animal Behaviorist is not the same with Animal Psychiatrist

Again, both of this scope of study can go hand in hand, but they have a different focus. For short, the case is just the same as how we differentiate psychologists and psychiatrist for human. Animal behaviorists are more like animal psychologist. On the other hand, animal psychiatrist, or also known as veterinary behaviorist, is an actual veterinarian that is specialized in behavior. They earned bachelor’s degree and attended vet school. Animal psychiatrists also can prescribe medication if they have too. 

3. Titled as MS, MA, or Ph.D. in animal behavior

Professional behaviorists are called Applied Animal Behaviorists. They went through formal education to earn MS, MA, or Ph.D. degree, but some jobs require only a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) or B.S. (Bachelor of Science) degree. They can also have additional certification like CAAB or CAAB. Yes, it took a lot of dedication to become one. 

Animal behaviorist work in one of four broad fields, which are ethology, comparative psychology, behavioral ecology, and anthropology. Each fields have different methods, goals, and focus. Animal behaviorists also have a specialized field of study in specific animals. Some of them are only focused on birds, fish, reptiles, or wild animals. Some of them are also more concerned with livestock or pets. Each of them is specified into certain kinds of behaviors, like how animals breed and mare, how they defend themselves from predators, how they take care of their young, and how they hunt or find their food. 

4. Place to work

There are so many career option for animal behaviorists. They can be a researcher in government or private institutions where the jobs are involved in health-related research. For examples, in government laboratories or drug companies. They often use animal behaviorist to conduct research and examine how animal behaves to certain new drugs. They can also collaborate to work on natural resources or wildlife management. 

Not only to work for institutions, but animal behaviorist can also work in museums, zoos, aquariums, or conservation groups as a curator or researcher. They focus on how to improve the health and reproduction of animals, reintroduction program, and conduct scientific study. 

Let’s have an example. Let say, you are an owner of dog with abnormal behavior. In this case, the one you called is an Applied Animal Behaviorist. They will study the interaction between you and your pet and look at the environment where the dog is living in. Its abnormal behavior may come from an uncomfortable situation, medical problem, or even hormones. Then, after they know the root of the problem, they’ll give you a recommendation or advice that you can take or not. 

That’s all several facts to correct some of the misconceptions among animal behaviorists. Now we know that they are not the same with animal trainer because they don’t work on training the animal, they are not animal psychiatrists who can prescribe medication but instead act more like animal psychologist, they have to earn at least B.A or B.S degree, or even more advanced degrees, and they can work as a researcher in many places from government, private institutions, recreation place like zoos, museums, or aquariums, and also animal conservations.