That might seem perfectly fine as they have stopped the unwanted action. But what if you treat the symptom and not the cause and other symptoms occur because you have just repressed one symptom of a strong desire or phobia ?
A dog behaviorist works by visual observation. It is much easier to see something that is wrong and try and fix it. But not knowing why it occurs is where the job of a truly skilled dog psychologist can come in.
Now the big question is, can a dog psychologist really do the work their name implies (understand the dogs brain)? Or are they just applying blunt tools estimating what they think a dog may be thinking?
With human psychology you can observe a patient, ask a patient questions, get a patient to do complex cognitive tasks and formulate an opinion. You may also have months to years to observe and assess how their mind works.
Companion dogs have very different mental processes from humans, and because of their recent evolution from the grey wolf have a similar psychology on many matters to the wolf. Of course the big issues is that most domestic dogs that are trying to be fixed live in urban environments and encounter objects and tasks that a wolf would never naturally encounter.
Are dog psychology and MRI scanning techniques etc sufficiently advanced to trust that a dog psychologist is doing anything more than guessing at causes and then estimating fixes, under a clever name?
A dog behaviorist is a dog psychologist
After I have spent considerable time in the last blog explaining the differences between these two professions, you might think this heading is a little strange.
The reason why I wrote it is that most dog psychologists do not have advanced MRI machinery and the field of dog psychology (and peer reviewed text books) is not sufficiently advanced to suggest that man understands why a dog is doing a certain thing purely because of what it is thinking.
People will argue that dogs are simple or complex until the cows come home. But I think you will find that the longer you spend with dogs, the more you see how they cleverly adapt behavior to fit in or solve problems. Then you will also realise that their brains are amazingly advanced. Not necessarily in the same way humans brains are, the architecture is quite different, and therein lies the problem.
Dog psychologist might be well meaning, but there are probably so few out there that have any real chance of actually understanding what a dog is thinking anywhere near 100% of the time, that they are probably basing a lot of their techniques on observation of actions, which makes them the same as a dog behaviourist.
And as for a dog behaviourist (a good one), they will aim to understand the driving mental force behind why a dog behaves a certain way, such as if they have a phobia, as much as visually observing the physical way the dog acts.
Perhaps in the early part of the 21st century there is little difference between most dog behaviorists and dog psychologists, except their fees?