Trying to handle a pet that has behavior problems can be very frustrating. While an experienced animal trainer can help pets that display minor issues, moderate to serious behavior problems often need a medical professional’s help.
Veterinary technician behaviorists, also known as veterinary behavior technicians, work closely with veterinarians to help modify undesirable behavior in pets and other animals.
Places of Employment
Veterinary technician behaviorists can be found working with many different types of animals including dogs, cats, livestock, research animals, zoo animals and wildlife.
As such, they can also be found working in a variety of work settings.
However, some of the most common employers of these professionals are as follows.
- Research Centers
- Educational Facilities
- Zoological Parks
- Wildlife Centers
- Marine Parks and Aquariums
- Large Animal Practices
- Small Animal Practices
The responsibilities of veterinary behavior technicians can vary significantly depending on the type of facilities they choose to work for.
Nevertheless, the goals of all of them are to assist veterinarians in pinpointing the cause of undesirable behavior, creating plans to modify the behavior and implementing the plans.
Of course, this is just the large picture of what vet tech behaviorists do. They are also responsible for many other essential tasks as well. Again, although these tasks may vary from one employer to another, some of the most common duties of vet techs specializing in behavior are as follows.
- Collecting and Recording Animals’ Medical Histories
- Taking and Recording Animals’ Vital Signs
- Observing and Recording the Behavior of Animals
- Collecting Laboratory Samples and Performing Laboratory Tests
- Helping Veterinarians Create Modification Plans
- Implementing Behavior Modification Plans
- Educating Clients on Modification Techniques
- Feeding, Grooming and Exercising Animals
- Cleaning Living Quarters and Exercise Yards
First Things First
It is essential to note that many negative behavior patterns can also be symptoms of various pet health issues. As such, before a veterinarian can diagnose an animal with a behavior problem, a thorough physical exam must be performed. In some cases, an animal that refuses to eat or drink may have an underlying health issue causing the problem.
Additionally, there are many different pet ailments that can cause such behavior as depression, eating inappropriate objects, house-training mistakes and self-mutilation.
With that said, it is important to rule out any possible health issues before labeling an animal with a behavior problem. The vet tech behaviorist will perform any necessary lab tests and assist the veterinarian during any examinations.
The Importance of Observation
Some of the most important tasks of vet tech behaviorists are observing and recording animals’ behavior. Since it is essential to observe animals while they are in natural settings, vet techs will often visit their patients’ homes/habitats to make their observations. Depending on each animal’s unique problem, several visits may be required.
After the veterinary technician behaviorist has compiled a sizable amount of data pertaining to a patient’s behavior, the data will then be turned over to the veterinarian.
The veterinarian will carefully read over the data and will pinpoint a cause for the undesirable behavior by studying the compiled research. In some cases, the vet may want to make his or her own observations as well.
After pinpointing the suspected cause of the animal’s negative behavior, the veterinarian will then sit down with the vet tech and create a modification plan that will help change this behavior.
Once a plan has been created, the vet and vet tech will discuss the plan with the client. If the client approves of the plan, it is the veterinary technician behaviorist’s job to implement it.
The Necessity of Behavior Modification
There are many reasons why pet owners or animal handlers may need professional help with behavior modification. While some of these behaviors are somewhat small, others can be quite serious. Additionally, some negative behavior patterns can result in various health problems and even death.
- Excessive Barking or Howling
- Constant Digging
- Eating Inappropriate Objects
- Chewing or Scratching of Furniture, Drapes or Other Objects
- Separation Anxiety
- Unexplained Housetraining Mistakes
- Refusal to Eat or Drink
- Unexplained Depression
Veterinary technician behaviorist careers are extremely rewarding as these professionals help to correct inappropriate behavior in pets and other animals.
Furthermore, people who choose to work in this field enjoy many benefits including excellent salaries, job security and flexible work environments.