What is an Animal Behaviour Technician?

At the end of June this year the ABTC published the standard for Animal Behaviour Technicians (ABT) (http://www.abtcouncil.org.uk/standards-for-practitioners.html#tech ), this latest standard completes the suite of core roles in the sector of animal behaviour and training. It provides practitioners with either a career ‘stop-point’ or a point at which they can start working with a range of behaviour issues to gain practical experience as they continue their studies towards becoming a fully qualified Clinical Animal Behaviourist.

Although training rehabilitation forms a good part of the role the main emphasis will be towards offering advice and educating owners and handlers to avoid issues arising in the first place, prevention always being preferable to cure. This makes it an ideal role for veterinary nurses, dog wardens, rescue establishment workers and many more in the animal care sector, as well as trainers and training instructors who want to progress with their education.

Inevitably there are a lot of questions about this role as it is new to the sector so I will attempt to address the ones most likely to arise:

Can I be a Canine Behaviour Technician? In a sense you can in that you can specialise in dogs but it is important that you have a working knowledge of other species too because frequently other animals form part of the social environment that dogs are kept in and therefore have an influence on their behaviour. Equally, this is a core role that applies to the animal care sector which means that people can specialise in dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, parrots or any other species they wish to hence the use of the word ‘animal’. This is the same reasoning behind Animal Behaviour and Training Council, Clinical Animal Behaviourist, Animal Trainer, Animal Training Instructor etc.

Why doesn’t the name include the word behaviourist? As there are already three standards that include the word ‘behaviourist’ (although the Accredited Animal Behaviourist will cease to exist in 2021) there is a need to create a clear distinction between the roles and avoid confusion for those engaging the services of such a practitioner. The title was the subject of lengthy discussions and as there are technicians in other parts of the animal sector it was finally decided to go with an established convention.

How do I become an ABT? As the year progresses you will find courses becoming available that are designed around the standard but in the meantime ABTC member organisations will be able to submit their members’ names for inclusion on a new register based on previous education and assessment of practical skills that satisfy the role requirements.

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