Dog behavior is the “collection of behaviors by the domestic dog.” However what most dog owners are interested in is how to change their dog’s unwanted behaviours using a dog behaviorist or a dog trainer.
You will probably quickly find that most dog trainers are now calling themselves dog behaviorists because it sounds better and can earn them more money.
I am not necessarily against this, when their training techniques get permanent results (because the owner can easily reinforce this), but you should understand that dog training, dog behavior and dog psychology are often used to mean the same thing, but in reality are very different.
This is a much more accurate definition of these dog terms
Dog Behavior = How a dog behaves in a given situation, good bad or ugly.
Dog Behaviorists = People who believe they can visually assess what is causing the bad behavior and shape or stop it trying to replace it with neutral or desired behavior
Dog training = techniques to accomplish a change in dog behavior. They often employ tried and tested techniques to retrain how a dog acts in a given situation. However in modern times dog training has often become more synonomous with basic training that you apply to a puppy such as sit and stay commands, rather than changing a bad or dangerous behavior.
So as you can see a dog behaviorist might take more time assessing the situation and applying advanced dog training tools to correct a serious problem, rather than training a dog to respond to a simple command. Sounds like semantics but there is a real difference
Dog psychology seems to sit on the very fringe of dog training these days. If you search for the term only Cesar Milan seems to come up as the originator of the term or at least the best marketer of it, with his centres.
While Cesar and dog psychologists do train dogs, that is alter a dogs behaviour to one that is more acceptable, they in theory get more into a dog’s head and understand the psychological reasons that a dog is acting a certain way. You may consider this is the same as a dog behaviorist, but that is not necessarily so.
The dog behaviourist is usually observing the dog behavior and figuring out how to change that, they don’t necessarily have to get into the dog’s head and work out what they are thinking.
That is because the dog training techniques are often based on many decade old tricks that resolve the issue – so they jump the step of trying to work out psychologically why a dog is behaving a certain way. Just easier to fix it.
However if there is a complex mental issue behind why a dog is behaving in a bad way, stopping it might not be the simple long term answer. The next dogblog looks at why a dog psychologist might be of more use in some extreme dog behavior situations that need correcting.