FOUR PAWS, FOUR DIRECTIONS 
Dog Training and Behavior Consulting, LLC

Laura Donaldson, PhD, CDBC, KPA CTP

Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, IAABC
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
Lead Behavior and Training Consultant,
Cayuga Dog Rescue


What is a CDBC (and why I need one)

A Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) is a professional who can help you resolve problem behaviors such as aggression and biting; anxiety issues, including separation anxiety; inappropriate housesoiling and incomplete housetraining; obsessive-compulsive behaviors; food, object or place guarding; fears and phobias; and other unruly, annoying and abnormal behaviors.  

A Certified Dog Behavior Consultant is different than a dog trainer because dog trainers, even ones that are Certified Pet Dog Trainers (CPDTs), are not always qualified to deal with behavior issues such as aggression, fears, phobias or anxiety.  Although teaching a dog obedience behaviors like sitting on cue, not jumping on people, walking nicely on a leash, and coming when called is highly desirable, obedience alone will not resolve behavior issues such as fear, anxiety or aggression.  Why?  Because behavior problems originate at the level of a dog's emotions and obedience training reflects a more superficial, conscious level of behaviors.

Because there are no generally recognized standards for regulating dog training, some people unfortunately claim to be "pet behavior counselors" or "dog behaviorists" without the corresponding knowledge or experience to help people and their pets effectively. Would you allow a heart surgeon that was not properly board certified in their field to operate on you?  You should be similarly cautious about choosing a pet behavior counselor without nationally recognized credentials.  The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants is a widely-recognized professional organization that certifies those able to exhibit a rigorous standard of knowledge, experience and ethics in their practice of animal behavior consulting (for more information, see https://iaabc.org/about).  

Certified Dog Behavior Consultants are required to submit written case studies and responses to questions as well as to demonstrate competency in six core areas, including assessment and intervention strategies, consulting skills, knowledge of animal behavior and relevant species-specific knowledge of healthcare, husbandry, nutrition and behavior. In order to maintain their certification, CDBCs must stay current in the developing science of animal behavior and consulting by participating in coursework, attending conferences,  and participating in seminars/webinars as well as other continuing education opportunities. 

Within the purview of the IAABC, CDBCs must adopt the "Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA)" principles (see the Library for a complete statement of LIMA principles) in their work with companion animals and strive to become a resource for the public. They assist companion animals and their humans by interrupting and preventing the cycle of inappropriate punishment, rejection, and euthanasia of animals due to behavior problems. 

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