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Pet behaviour counsellor

Pet behaviour counsellors help pet owners deal with animal behaviour problems.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need a degree in a related subject like:

  • animal behaviour
  • animal behaviour and welfare
  • animal management
  • zoology with animal behaviour 

You’ll also need paid or unpaid experience of working with animals, like dog training or handling, or working in a kennels or vets.
 
It may help to work towards national standards or membership of a professional body.

The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) has information about careers in pet behaviour counselling.

The Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training (CIDBT) and Pet Education, Training and Behaviour Council have information on specialist training courses.
 
The PDSA, RSPCA and Blue Cross have information on voluntary opportunities.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to handle animals
  • good spoken and written communication skills
  • the ability to empathise with clients and gain their trust
  • the ability to motivate pet owners
  • coaching skills
  • business and management skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll work with animal behaviour problems like:

  • inappropriate noise, like excessive barking
  • aggression towards people or animals
  • destructive behaviour
  • toileting issues
  • chasing livestock, cars or cyclists
  • phobias and fearful behaviours
  • general control 

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • taking referrals from vets
  • holding consultations in your own centre, in veterinary surgeries or in owners' homes
  • talking to owners and observing animals
  • looking at the nature of the problem and likely causes
  • writing a behaviour-modification programme
  • checking progress
  • adapting the modification programme if necessary 
You might also offer an animal training service.

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £17,000

Experienced: £25,000

Highly Experienced: £35,000 to £50,000

If you’re self-employed, you’ll charge around £85 to £250 for consultations.

Full time salaried posts are rare. You might supplement your income with related work, like animal training or writing articles on animal behaviour.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll need to fit in with your clients, which could mean working evenings and weekends.

You could be based in your own premises, in veterinary surgeons' clinics or visit owners' homes.

You may spend time working outside.

A driving licence will be useful.

6. Career path and progression

With the right qualifications and experience you can apply to the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour for Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB) status. This will allow you entry onto the Register of Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourists.

You could set up your own practice or consultancy, or move into teaching or lecturing. 

Last updated: 07 December 2016