• Animal Behaviour and Training Council
  • Animal Behaviour and Training Council
  • Animal Behaviour and Training Council
  • Animal Behaviour and Training Council
  • Animal Behaviour and Training Council
  • Animal Behaviour and Training Council

Standards for Practitioners of Animal Training and Behaviour

The standards published in this document have been developed by the Animal Behaviour and Training Council, by combining the best practice available in the UK. Where available, appropriate National Occupational Standards published by Lantra (Sector Skills Council) have been taken into consideration.

These standards indicate the skills, knowledge and understanding required by an individual to competently carry out the applicable role. They should form the basis of all education and training designed to qualify students at a level appropriate to that role.

Contents on this page 

ABTC Standard - Animal Trainer

Overview

This standard is at Level 3.

This standard is about planning and managing the training of animals. This may involve training the animal to undertake specific tasks, or more general training.

This standard covers your interactions with the animal, reinforcing desirable behaviours and ensuring training plans are developed, goals are met and the training is evaluated to ensure its continued appropriateness.

The Veterinary Surgeons Act limits the activities which may be carried out by those who are not qualified veterinary surgeons. All activities should be carried out within the constraints of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

  1. Assess how the needs of animals (see glossary) may be provided for whilst under your duty of care
  2. Comply with current animal welfare legislation and professional responsibilities at all times
  3. Approach all interactions with the animals in a manner that reinforces desirable behavioural patterns and avoids creating undesirable behavioural patterns
  4. Create and implement a training plan with realistic targets for a desired behaviour based upon the principles of learning and the intended outcomes of the training
  5. Evaluate and select appropriate methods and equipment to achieve the desired outcome
  6. Assess the potential welfare consequences of the training method and chosen equipment
  7. Obtain and interpret relevant information from the appropriate sources:
    • life history
    • physical capabilities
    • age
    • health
    • diet
    • sexual status
    • training history
    • temperament/characteristics
    • breed and parentage
    • desired appearance
    • medical history
    • motivational drivers and effects
  8. Prepare the animal, resources and environment for the training session to aid the achievement of agreed learning outcomes.
  9. Interact and apply humane training techniques with the animal in a manner that minimises stress and allows training to be carried out safely
  10. Assess the progress of the training session against the plan at regular intervals and take action to resolve situations where training activities, methods or resources are found to be inappropriate
  11. Modify the training plan as needed to take into account the response of the animal and handler to the training so far
  12. Ensure records of the animal's progress are maintained
  13. Communicate effectively with others
  14. Implement and maintain current health and safety guidelines and legislation
  15. Recognise own limitations and seek qualified professional advice as necessary

Knowledge and understanding

You need to know and understand:

    • Animal Behaviour: (Minimum 5 credits, minimum Level 3)
  1. The natural behaviour patterns, body language and communication methods of the animal
    • Animal Health and Welfare: (Minimum 10 credits, minimum Level 3)
  2. How the needs of animals under your duty of care may be assessed and addressed
  3. The suitability, action, welfare and ethical considerations of training equipment and techniques for the species' and animals' physical and mental capabilities
  4. How training will impact on animal welfare and how to analyse whether it is in the best interests of the animal involved
  5. How to assess when training might not be appropriate
    • Animal Learning and Training: (Minimum 30 credits, minimum Level 3)
  6. The process of establishing measurable goals and objectives for the training of animals
  7. How to formulate training plans based on the objectives agreed between trainer and handler/owner and available resources
  8. The factors which may affect the progress and success of training
  9. Learning theory including operant conditioning, its use, effects and practical application, including the differences between positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment
  10. The practical effects and consequences of classical conditioning on animal learning and behaviour
  11. Schedules of reinforcement and how they can be used to establish and maintain desired behaviour
  12. The need to guard against unintentional classical and operant conditioning creating undesirable behaviour.
  13. How behaviour can be extinguished by the removal of reinforcement and the principle of spontaneous recovery.
  14. The importance of reviewing and revising a training plan to meet the objectives
    • Animal Husbandry, Management and Welfare Legislation (Minimum 5 credits, minimum Level 3)
  15. Your responsibility and accountability for duty of care of animals under the current animal welfare legislation 
  16. Health and safety policy and legislation and how to carry out a risk assessment related to the training environment 
  17. The importance of establishing and maintaining training records

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ABTC Standard - Animal Training Instructor

Overview

This standard is at Level 4.

This standard is about planning and managing the training of animals. This may involve training the animal to undertake specific tasks, or more general training.

This standard covers your interactions with the animal and the owner/handler. Teaching owners/handlers how to introduce and reinforce desirable behaviours, how to avoid and/or extinguish undesirable behaviours, ensuring that training progresses at an appropriate rate, goals are met and the training is evaluated to ensure each of the above. This role is teaching the owner/handler to train the animal.

The Veterinary Surgeons Act limits the activities which may be carried out by those who are not qualified veterinary surgeons. All activities should be carried out within the constraints of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

  1. Assess how the needs of animals (see glossary) may be provided for whilst under your duty of care
  2. Comply with current animal welfare legislation and professional responsibilities at all times
  3. Approach all interactions with the animals in a manner that reinforces desirable behavioural patterns and avoids creating undesirable behavioural patterns
  4. Create and implement a training plan with realistic targets for a desired behaviour based upon the principles of learning and the intended outcomes of the training
  5. Evaluate and select appropriate methods and equipment to achieve the desired outcome
  6. Assess the potential welfare consequences of the training method and chosen equipment
  7. Obtain and interpret relevant information from the appropriate sources:
    • life history
    • physical capabilities
    • age
    • health
    • diet
    • sexual status
    • training history
    • temperament/characteristics
    • breed and parentage
    • desired appearance
    • medical history
    • motivational drivers and effects
  8. Prepare the animal, resources and environment for the training session to aid the achievement of agreed learning outcomes.
  9. Interact and apply humane training techniques with the animal in a manner that minimises stress and allows training to be carried out safely
  10. Assess the progress of the training session against the plan at regular intervals and take action to resolve situations where training activities, methods or resources are found to be inappropriate
  11. Modify the training plan as needed to take into account the response of the animal and handler to the training so far
  12. Ensure records of the animal's progress are maintained
  13. Communicate effectively with others
  14. Implement and maintain current health and safety guidelines and legislation
  15. Recognise own limitations and seek qualified professional advice as necessary
  16. Train an animal to do each and every exercises appropriate to the level of the class*/discipline of the class/duties required of the animal, in a number of different ways taking into account the animal's breed, type and physical capabilities.
  17. Recognise stress/distress in an owner/handler and know ways of reducing it
  18. Recognise when a class situation is not the best option for an animal, and be able to suggest more appropriate methods for the owner/handler to learn
  19. Identify the information and knowledge people need and why they need it.
  20. Identify how people prefer to receive information and knowledge and what media, styles, timing and pace are most appropriate for communicating with them.
  21. Check that the information and knowledge you are communicating is current, accurate and complete.
  22. Take action to minimise any interference or disruption to your communication.
  23. Communicate clearly, concisely, accurately in ways that help people to understand the information and knowledge you are communicating and its relevance to them.
  24. Use a variety of techniques to gain and maintain people's attention and interest and to help them retain information and knowledge.
  25. Adjust and fine-tune your communication in response to both verbal and non-verbal feedback.
  26. State the level of confidence that can be placed on the information and knowledge you are communicating; i.e. whether it is based on rigorously researched evidence, widely accepted facts or personal opinion.
  27. Jargon, technical terms or abbreviations should be kept to a minimum, but where they need to be used they should be explained carefully to avoid any confusion as to their meaning.
  28. Confirm that people have received and understood the information and knowledge you have communicated.
  29. Comply with, and ensure others comply with, legal requirements, industry regulations, organisational policies and professional codes.

* Class – in this context 'class' means a person or persons with the animals they are responsible for. This can take place in any venue (eg home, hall, equestrian centre, outside venue at which such activities are allowed and required or requested)

Knowledge and understanding

You need to know and understand:

    • Animal Behaviour: (Minimum of 10 credits, of which 5 must be at a minimum of level 4)
  1. The natural behaviour patterns, body language and communication methods of the animal
    • Animal Health and Welfare: (Minimum 10 credits, of which at least 5 must be at a minimum of level 4)
  2. How the needs of animals under your duty of care may be assessed and addressed
  3. The suitability, action, welfare and ethical considerations of training equipment and techniques for the species' and animals' physical and mental capabilities
  4. How training will impact on animal welfare and how to analyse whether it is in the best interests of the animal involved
  5. How to assess when training might not be appropriate
    • Animal Learning and Training: (Minimum 30 credits, of which at least 15 must be at a minimum of level 4)
  6. The process of establishing measurable goals and objectives for the training of animals
  7. How to formulate training plans based on the objectives agreed between trainer and handler/owner and available resources
  8. The factors which may affect the progress and success of training
  9. Learning theory including operant conditioning, its use, effects and practical application, including the differences between positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment
  10. The practical effects and consequences of classical conditioning on animal learning and behaviour
  11. Schedules of reinforcement and how they can be used to establish and maintain desired behaviour
  12. The need to guard against unintentional classical and operant conditioning creating undesirable behaviour.
  13. How behaviour can be extinguished by the removal of reinforcement and the principle of spontaneous recovery.
  14. The importance of reviewing and revising a training plan to meet the objectives
    • Animal Husbandry, Management and Welfare Legislation (Minimum of 5 credits, minimum Level 4)
  15. Your responsibility and accountability for duty of care of animals under the current animal welfare legislation
  16. Health and safety policy and legislation and how to carry out a risk assessment related to the training environment
  17. The importance of establishing and maintaining training records
    • Communication and instruction (A minimum of 20 credits, of which at least 15 must be at minimum Level 4)
  18. What motivates owners/handlers generally and individually
  19. How to adapt exercises to the physical limitations/constraints of the owner/handler
  20. How to identify people's needs for information and knowledge and their motivations for acquiring it.
  21. How to establish peoples’ preferred communication media, styles, timing and pace.
  22. The importance of checking the currency, accuracy and completeness of the information and knowledge you are communicating, and how to do so.
  23. How to take action to minimise any interference or disruption to your communication.
  24. The importance of structuring your communication in ways that facilitate people's reception and understanding, and how to do so.
  25. Techniques to gain and maintain people's attention and interest and to help them retain information and knowledge, and how to use a variety of relevant techniques.
  26. The importance of using verbal and non-verbal feedback to help you fine-tune your communication, and how to do so.
  27. The importance of communicating the level of confidence that can be placed on the information and knowledge, i.e; whether it is based on rigorously researched evidence, widely accepted facts or personal opinion.
  28. The importance of carefully explaining jargon, technical terms or abbreviations to avoid any confusion as to their meaning.
  29. The importance of confirming that people have received and understood the information and knowledge you have communicated, and how to do so.

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ABTC Standard - Animal Behaviour Technician

Overview

This standard is at Level 5.

This standard relates to working with animals and/or in human-animal interaction settings to provide prophylactic behavioural advice to owners/handlers/keepers, and to assess animal behaviour to devise behaviour modification and/or environmental modification plans to improve animal welfare, and/or refers to other animal behaviour professionals as appropriate.

Dealing with behaviours that are symptomatic of behaviour disorders or other pathologies and those of a dangerous nature are beyond the scope of this standard.

This standard involves understanding how to evaluate, prevent or address inappropriate or problematic behaviours within individual animals, through the development of suitable environments and training regimes that are likely to be effective, based on best practice and scientific evidence. These may be for training rehabilitation or prevention purposes, when caring for the animal or when assisting and advising another person or organisation on undesirable behaviour in their animal/s.

This standard is suitable for those working in the animal care sector, with responsibility for planning and managing humane approaches to the behaviour of animals and may work in conjunction with Clinical Animal Behaviourists, Animal Trainers and Animal Training Instructors. The Veterinary Surgeons Act limits the activities which may be carried out by those who are not qualified veterinary surgeons. All activities should be carried out within the constraints of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Performance Criteria

You must be able to:

  1. Identify the appropriate animal health and welfare legislation, associated codes of practice and other legislation relevant to the animals being worked with and take any action necessary to ensure these are followed.
  2. Identify and act in ways that best ensures the well-being of the animal, protecting and promoting welfare both within the short and long term.
  3. Gather evidence about the behaviour of the animal from all sources identified as likely to provide relevant information. This could include direct observation, discussion with owner/keeper, assessments supplied by veterinary surgeons, case history. Evaluate the quality of this evidence and act appropriately to remedy any areas of concern or deficiency in it.
  4. Evaluate the effect of physical factors on the animal's behaviour including species, breed, parentage, sex, age, medical conditions, physiological status, developmental history and identify those most relevant to the problem(s) and areas of concern identified.
  5. Evaluate the impact of external factors on the behaviour of the animal, the problem(s) and areas of concern identified, to include: immediate surroundings, wider environment, environmental pressures, ethological requirements, previous experiences.
  6. Evaluate the impact of husbandry/management practices on the behaviour of the animal, and any problem(s) and areas of concern identified, including: presence/absence of environmental enrichment, social contact, physical activity, interactions and relationship with owner/keeper and other humans, diet.
  7. Evaluate issues concerning the safety, efficacy and reliability of complementary and alternative or non-prescription or prescribed therapies or products.
  8. Demonstrate skill and competency in the selection and use of a wide range of behavioural modification techniques and training aids to address undesirable and problematic behaviour and be able to teach others how to use these effectively as appropriate, to ensure their effective use, and protect against their misuse, and ensure owners/keepers protect the welfare of the animal.
  9. Apply the principles of animal learning theory to humane training methods to achieve agreed goals.
  10. Justify why a particular behaviour promotion and/or modification programme has been selected to promote behaviour or address issues identified, against any other possible regimes.
  11. Devise and implement a structured behaviour promotion and/or modification programme, that identifies and sets realistic goals and time scales for monitoring of its progress and assessment of its success. 
  12. Discuss and agree behaviour promotion and/or modification programme with the owner/keeper and others involved with the animal, rectifying areas of misunderstanding, confusion or concern where appropriate, and obtaining their informed consent.
  13. Ensure the owner/keeper understands their role in the delivery of an effective behaviour promotion and/or modification programme and the importance of maintaining the desired change to behaviour once it is achieved. Identify and liaise with other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons, and clinical animal behaviourists) and organisations involved in the care of the animals to ensure a consistent and appropriate approach that both promotes animal welfare and is legally compliant.
  14. Identify any professional, ethical or other issues that have arise when working with the animal, owner/keeper or other individual and take appropriate action to address these.
  15. Explain to the owner/keeper of the animal, through written guidelines or other appropriate system of feedback.
  16. Evaluate the effectiveness of the behaviour promotion and/or modification programme through appropriate follow-ups which may include direct observation of the animal and/or liaison with the owner/keeper and others involved with the animal. As appropriate, revise the programme in response to this feedback to ensure its effectiveness and success.
  17. Maintain required records on each animal so that it is possible to critically reflect on the appropriateness and success of different treatment regimes and identify any improvements to practice that could be made.
  18. Maintain a high level of professional conduct including an awareness of own limitations and refer cases on when appropriate.
  19. Identify gaps in own knowledge and understanding; and plan, record and evaluate a personal Continuing Professional

Development (CPD) to address these.

Knowledge and understanding

You need to know and understand:

    • Animal behaviour (Minimum 20 credits, minimum Level 5)
  1. The ethology of vertebrate animals, including perceptual abilities, maintenance and social behaviours and communication, their function and their motivational basis in the most commonly kept domestic species.
  2. How to recognise, evaluate and report on the behavioural states of the most commonly kept domestic animals and those that most commonly contribute to the caseload of a clinical animal behaviourist, to include signals indicative of key behavioural states such as fear, nervousness, aggression, ill-health, threat-reduction, play and relaxation.
  3. Behavioural ontogeny; to include sensitive periods, socialisation and attachment theory.
  4. The interaction between biological and evolutionary influences and the environment in which an animal is kept, and their roles in the development of behavioural disorders for a range of the most commonly kept domestic animals.
    • Animal health and welfare (10 credits, minimum Level 5)
  5. The key ethological, psychological and physiological concepts that underpin animal welfare.
  6. The physiological and behavioural indicators of welfare in vertebrate animals and their limitations and how to use these practically to assess welfare in the commonly kept domestic species.
  7. Welfare considerations in the management and training of animals.
    • Animal Learning and Training (15 credits, minimum Level 5)
  8. The theory of animal learning to include habituation; sensitization, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, insight and social learning, animal cognition and the concept of consciousness.
  9. The theory underlying learned problem behaviour and training techniques.
  10. The principles and rational behind the use of the range of behavioural modification techniques, to include systematic desensitization, counter-conditioning and the use of clickers.
  11. The techniques most appropriate for the promotion of appropriate behaviour and modification of problematic behaviour, the rationale for their use/application, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
    • The Interaction between Health and Behaviour (25 credits, minimum Level 5 )
  12. The functional anatomy and physiology of the vertebrate nervous and endocrine systems and their role in mediating behaviour.
  13. The concept of neural plasticity and the relevance and influence of environmental and genetic factors in the development of the nervous system.
  14. The signs of ill-health and common conditions influencing behaviour and associated veterinary terminology.
  15. The behavioural consequences of medical disorders.
  16. Psychopharmacology and the mode of action of the major classes of drugs used in clinical animal behaviour, their role and correct application, and constraints and contra-indicators to their use.
  17. Commonly used complementary and alternative or non-prescription or prescribed therapies or products and there claimed/potential benefits.
    • Clinical Procedures (30 credits, minimum Level 5)
  18. The range of common behavioural disorders in animals to include phobias, aggression, stereotypies, anxiety related behaviours, and how to identify contributing factors.
  19. The appropriate application of the principles of ethology and learning theory to the promotion of appropriate behaviour and/or modification of problematic behaviour.
  20. The range of effective communication skills, both in the collection of relevant information and provision of advice and communication via telephone, email, letters and reports with clients and relevant professionals, and how to assess and resolve issues relating to client understanding.
  21. The interactions appropriate in professional relationships and how to apply these in practice.
  22. The common professional, ethical or other issues that need to be considered in animal care settings and the action that is appropriate to address these, including an appreciation of the value of further referral.
  23. The construction and delivery of appropriately structured behaviour promotion and/or modification programmes that are likely to be effective for target behaviours identified.
  24. How to identify situations where further action may be necessary, including ways in which compliance with an extended behaviour promotion and/or modification programmes may be encouraged.
  25. UK and European legislation that relates to the ownership and use of animals and the role and duties of the behaviour technician, clinical animal behaviourist, veterinary surgeon, paraprofessionals, owners and others within it; to include the legal implications and duties associated with the provision of advice and professional liability and client confidentiality.
  26. Employment law, health and safety legislation and the Data Protection Act; and their implication for the behaviour technician, their clients and others.
  27. The ethical guidelines relating to the use of animals.

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ABTC Standard - Clinical Animal Behaviourist

Overview

This standard is at Level 6.

This standard relates to the clinical application of the science of animal behaviour, and the modification of the behaviour of animals that are demonstrating all types of undesirable, inappropriate, problematic or dangerous behaviour, including those with a potential link to pathologies that require diagnosis in collaboration with a veterinary surgeon.

This standard involves understanding how to evaluate, prevent or address inappropriate or problematic behaviours within individual animals, through the development of suitable environments and management/treatment regimes that are likely to be effective, based on best practice and scientific evidence. These may be for training rehabilitation or prevention purposes, when caring for the animal or when assisting and advising another person or organisation on undesirable behaviour in their animal/s.

This standard is suitable for those working in the animal care sector, with responsibility for planning and managing humane approaches to the addressing of inappropriate behaviour of animals, and who have an extensive understanding of clinical animal behaviour and the related scientific/clinical literature. The Veterinary Surgeons Act limits the activities which may be carried out by those who are not qualified veterinary surgeons. All activities should be carried out within the constraints of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Performance Criteria

You must be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the needs of a range of animal species and how these may be provided for whilst under your duty of care.
  2. Identify the appropriate animal health and welfare legislation, associated codes of practice and other legislation relevant to the animals being worked with and take any action necessary to ensure these are followed.
  3. Identify and act in ways that best ensures the well-being of the animal, protecting and promoting welfare both within the short and long term.
  4. Gather evidence about the behaviour of the animal and the problem(s) for which advice is being sought from all sources identified as likely to provide relevant information. This could include direct observation, discussion with owner/keeper, assessments supplied by veterinary surgeons, case history. Critically evaluate the quality of this evidence and act appropriately to remedy any areas of concern or deficiency in it.
  5. Critically evaluate the effect of physical factors on the animal's behaviour including species, breed, parentage, sex, age, medical conditions, physiological status, developmental history and identify those most relevant to the problem(s) and areas of concern identified and for those for which help is being sort.
  6. Critically evaluate the impact of external factors on the behaviour of the animal, the problem(s) and areas of concern identified and those for which help is being sought, to include: immediate surroundings, wider environment, environmental pressures, ethological requirements, previous experiences.
  7. Critically evaluate the impact that husbandry/management practices have had on the behaviour of the animal, the problem(s) and areas of concern identified and those for which help is being sought, including: presence/absence of environmental enrichment, social contact, physical activity, interactions and relationship with owner/keeper and other humans, diet. Critically judge the evidence gathered, distinguishing between competing causes, assumption and explanations for the behaviour, and identify the most appropriate treatment regime for the animal, that is likely to effectively address the problem(s) and concerns identified and the animal's particular set of circumstances.
  8. Critically evaluate issues concerning the safety, efficacy and reliability of complementary and alternative or non-prescription or prescribed therapies or products.
  9. Demonstrate skill and competency in the selection and use of a wide range of behavioural modification techniques and training aids to address undesirable and problematic and be able to teach others how to use these effectively as appropriate, to ensure their effective use, and protect against their misuse, and ensure owners/keepers protect the welfare of the animal.
  10. Apply the principles of animal learning theory to humane training methods to achieve agreed goals.
  11. Justify why a particular treatment regime has been selected to address the problem(s) identified, against any other possible regimes.
  12. Devise and implement a structured treatment regimen, that identifies and sets realistic goals and time scales for monitoring of its progress and assessment of its success.
  13. Discuss and agree treatment regime with the owner/keeper and others involved with the animal for which advice is being sought, rectifying areas of misunderstanding, confusion or concern where appropriate, and obtaining their informed consent.
  14. Ensure the owner/keeper understands their role in the delivery of an effective programme of treatment and the importance of maintaining the desired change to behaviour once it is achieved. Identify and liaise with other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons, breeders) and organisations involved in the care of the animals for which advice is being sought to ensure a consistent and appropriate approach to resolution of the problem that both promotes animal welfare and is legally compliant.
  15. Identify any professional, ethical or other issues that have arise when working with the animal, owner/keeper or other individual and take appropriate action to address these.
  16. Explain to the owner/keeper of the animal, through written guidelines or other appropriate system of feedback, the areas of concern regarding their animal that have been identified, their possible causes and the rationale behind the treatment regime selected to remedy these and any other associated issues that have been identified.
  17. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment regime through appropriate follow-ups which may include direct observation of the animal and/or liaison with the owner/keeper and others involved with the animal. As appropriate, revise the regime in response to this feedback to ensure its effectiveness and success.
  18. Maintain required records on each animal so that it is possible to critically reflect on the appropriateness and success of different treatment regimes and identify any improvements to practice that could be made.
  19. Maintain a high level of professional conduct including an awareness of own limitations and refer cases on when appropriate.
  20. Identify gaps in own knowledge and understanding; and plan, record and evaluate a personal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to address these.
  21. Contribute to the development and progression of scientific knowledge in the area of behaviour modification and clinical animal behaviour.

Knowledge and understanding

You need to know and understand:

    • Animal Behaviour (20 credits, minimum Level 6)
  1. The ethology of vertebrate animals, including perceptual abilities, maintenance and social behaviours and communication, their function and their motivational basis in the most commonly kept domestic species.
  2. How to recognise, evaluate and report on the behavioural states of the most commonly kept domestic animals and those that most commonly contribute to the caseload of a clinical animal behaviourist, to include signals indicative of key behavioural states such as fear, nervousness, aggression, ill-health, threat-reduction, play and relaxation.
  3. Behavioural ontogeny; to include sensitive periods, socialisation and attachment theory.
  4. The interaction between biological and evolutionary influences and the environment in which an animal is kept, and their roles in the development of behavioural disorders for a range of the most commonly kept domestic animals.
  5. The process of domestication and its effects on the behaviour of animals and the common interactions between animals and humans and how these can contribute to the development of problematic owner/animal relationship, to include animal abuse, abandonment, animal-hoarding.
    • Animal Health and Welfare (10 credits, minimum Level 6)
  6. The key ethological, psychological and physiological concepts that underpin animal welfare.
  7. The physiological and behavioural indicators of welfare in vertebrate animals and their limitations and how to use these practically to assess welfare in the commonly kept domestic species.
  8. Welfare considerations in the management and training of animals and in clinical practice.
    • Animal Learning and Training (15 credits, minimum Level 6)
  9. The theory of animal learning to include habituation; sensitization, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, insight and social learning, animal cognition and the concept of consciousness.
  10. The theory underlying learned problem behaviour and training techniques.
  11. The principles and rational behind the use of the range of behavioural modification techniques, to include systematic desensitization, counter-conditioning and the use of clickers.
  12. The techniques most appropriate for the treatment of a range of common behavioural disorders and learned problem behaviours, the rationale for their use/application, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
    • The Interaction between Health and Behaviour (25 credits, minimum Level 6)
  13. The functional anatomy and physiology of the vertebrate nervous and endocrine systems and their role in mediating behaviour.
  14. The concept of neural plasticity and the relevance and influence of environmental and genetic factors in the development of the nervous system.
  15. The signs of ill-health and common conditions influencing behaviour and associated veterinary terminology.
  16. The interaction between health and behaviour in vertebrate animals.
  17. The behavioural consequences of medical disorders.
  18. The evidence for and against a medical component contributing to competing explanations of a behaviour.
  19. Psychopharmacology and the mode of action of the major classes of drugs used in clinical animal behaviour, their role and correct application, and constraints and contra-indicators to their use.
  20. The ethics of psychopharmacological intervention and legal position of the clinical animal behaviourist, veterinary surgeon and others regarding the diagnosis, prescription and use of drugs and provision of advice.
    • Clinical Procedures (30 credits, minimum Level 6)
  21. The range of common behavioural disorders in animals to include phobias, aggression, stereotypies, anxiety related behaviours, and how to identify and critical evaluate contributing factors.
  22. The appropriate application of the principles of ethology and learning theory to the diagnosis and treatment of common problems.
  23. The key principles in human and family psychology, to include attitude theory, processes of inter-personal relationships, grief and bereavement.
  24. The principles of effective counselling and how to apply to facilitate and maintain behavioural change.
  25. The range of effective communication skills, both in the collection of relevant information and provision of advice in face to face consultations and communication via telephone, email, letters and reports with clients and relevant professionals, and how to assess and resolve issues relating to client understanding.
  26. The interactions appropriate in professional relationships and how to apply these in practice.
  27. The common professional, ethical or other issues that need to be considered or may arise before, during and after a consultation; and the action that is appropriate to address these, including an appreciation of the value of further referral.
  28. Methods for gathering and recording information relevant to the diagnosis of a behavioural disorder and how to critically evaluate and appraise it.
  29. The construction and delivery of appropriately structured treatment regimes that are likely to be effective for behavioural disorders identified.
  30. How to identify situations where further action may be necessary, including ways in which compliance with an extended treatment regime may be encouraged.
    • Law and Ethics (10 credits, minimum Level 6)
  31. UK and European legislation that relates to the ownership and use of animals and the role and duties of the clinical animal behaviourist, veterinary surgeon, paraprofessionals, owners and others within it; to include the legal implications and duties associated with the provision of advice and professional liability and client confidentiality.
  32. Employment law, health and safety legislation and the Data Protection Act; and their implication for the clinical animal behaviourist, their clients and others.
  33. The ethical guidelines that relating to the use of animals.
    • Research Methods (40 credits, minimum Level 6)
  34. The design and implementation of programmes of original inquiry in which data are collected and subjected to appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative analysis and critical evaluation.
  35. How to contribute to the science and knowledge base that underpins developments in the field of clinical animal behaviour.
  36. Methods for the assessment of the effectiveness of appropriately structured treatment regimes, including the use of analytical tools and statistics.

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ABTC Standard - Veterinary Behaviourist

Overview

This standard is at Level 6.

This standard relates to the clinical application of the science of animal behaviour, and the modification of the behaviour of animals that are demonstrating all types of undesirable, inappropriate, problematic or dangerous behaviour, or showing behavioural signs of compromised welfare. This includes those occurring through learnt responses to the environment as well as those caused or influenced by physiological or pathological changes. The standard includes the use of adjunctive methods of therapy including psychoactive medication.

This standard involves understanding how to evaluate, prevent or address behavioural signs within individual animals, through the development of suitable environments and management/treatment regimes that are likely to be effective, based on best practice and scientific evidence. These may be for rehabilitation or prevention purposes, when treating undesired or problematic behaviour in individual animals, when addressing environmental causes of compromised welfare, or when assisting and advising another person or organisation on any of these.

This standard is suitable for veterinary surgeons, with responsibility for planning and managing humane approaches to the addressing of inappropriate behaviour or compromised welfare in animals, and who have an extensive understanding of clinical animal behaviour and the related scientific/clinical literature. All activities should be carried out within the constraints of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Requirements

  • To be a qualified Veterinary Surgeon holding an RCVS approved qualification or equivalent.
  • To have undertaken appropriate study to meet the Performance Criteria and Knowledge and Understanding requirements as described for the Clinical Animal Behaviourist role.

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ABTC Standard - Accredited Animal Behaviourist

Overview

This standard relates to the retraining of animals' undesirable or inappropriate behaviour.

This standard involves understanding how to prevent or address inappropriate or problematic behaviours within individual animals through the development of suitable environments and management regimes . This may be for training rehabilitation or prevention purposes, when caring for the animal or when assisting another person or organisation with undesirable behavioural in their animal/s.
This standard is suitable for those working in the animal care sector, with responsibility for planning and managing the ‘humane' approach to the addressing of inappropriate behaviour of animals.

The Veterinary Surgeons Act limits the activities which may be carried out by those who are not qualified veterinary surgeons. All activities should be carried out within the constraints of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Performance Criteria

You must be able to:

  1. Assess how the needs of animals (see glossary) may be provided for whilst under your duty of care.
  2. Work within animal health and welfare legislation, associated codes of practice and other legislation related to animals as appropriate.
  3. Promote the animal's welfare at all times and adapt own behaviour if necessary to avoid creating undesirable behaviour in the animal.
  4. Interact with the animal in a humane manner that minimises stress and allows observation and assessment to be carried out safely.
  5. Assess the animal's remedial training requirements using a range of methods which could include observation, discussion with owner/keeper, assessment of veterinary surgeon, case history.
  6. Assess the effect of physical factors on the animal's behaviour including species, breed, parentage, sex, age, medical conditions, physiological status, developmental history.
  7. Assess the impact of external factors on the subsequent development of undesirable behaviour to include immediate surroundings, wider environment, environmental pressures, ethological requirements, previous experiences.
  8. Assess husbandry/management practices in relation to the causation and development of the undesirable behaviour including presence/absence of environmental enrichment, social contact, physical activity, human interaction, diet.
  9. Identify and liaise with other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons, breeders) and organisations involved in the care of the animals that you are working with to ensure a consistent and appropriate approach to remedial training that both promotes animal welfare and is legally compliant.
  10. Formulate a remedial training plan to address the factors identified as the cause of the undesirable behaviour.
  11. Discuss and agree the plan with the owner/keeper where appropriate and obtain informed consent.
  12. Ensure the owner/keeper understands their role and the importance of maintaining the desired behaviour once it is reached.
  13. Produce guidelines for owner/keeper where appropriate.
  14. Implement and monitor the remedial training plan.
  15. Evaluate the effectiveness of the remedial training plan and revise accordingly.
  16. Maintain required records.
  17. Maintain a high level of professional conduct including an awareness of own limitations and refer cases on when appropriate.
  18. Plan, record and evaluate Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
  19. Select and use appropriate training aids to assist in achieving the training goals; and be able to explain and demonstrate the use and potential for mis-use of training equipment to ensure owners/keepers protect the welfare of the animal.
  20. Apply the principles of animal learning theory to humane training methods to achieve agreed goals.
  21. Teach owners and handlers physical skills associated with good practice associated with the maintenance of desirable behaviour.

Knowledge and understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. How the needs of animals (see glossary) under your duty of care may be assessed and addressed.
  2. Your responsibility and accountability for duty of care of animals under current animal welfare legislation.
  3. Relevant health and safety policy and legislation and how to carry out a risk assessment.
  4. How to recognise and relate behavioural problems to species, breed, parentage, development, sex, environment, socialisation, habituation, social referencing, training, behavioural needs, medical conditions and other external or internal factors or antecedents.
  5. How behavioural problems can arise from the provision (or lack of provision) of resources, exercise regimes, mental stimulus or enrichment factors specific to the behavioural needs of the animal.
  6. The antecedents, triggers, indicators and anxiety/stress cycle of the animal that you are working with.
  7. The antecedents, triggers and indicators of the cycle of anxiety/stress in humans.
  8. The effects and implications of using aversive techniques in remedial training.
  9. Appreciate the potential impact of physiological and pathological factors on behaviour.
  10. The limitations and legal position when analysing behaviour and developing remedial training programmes.
  11. The relevance and importance of identifying and liaising with other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons use and clinical animal behaviourists.) involved in the care of the animals that you are working with.
  12. The availability, pros and cons of complementary treatments.
  13. Appropriate CPD to include keeping up-to-date with advances in training and behaviour.
  14. The principles of animal learning theory as applied to animal training, to include associative and non-associative learning, issues of stimulus control, the influence of different schedules of reinforcement, the effects of removal of reinforcement and extinction of response, the concepts and use of systematic desensitisation, counter-conditioning and flooding.
  15. The range of equipment available to assist in animal training, including their action and potential for mis-use.
  16. How to teach, support and motivate owners and handlers to develop the physical skills associated with good practice and the maintenance of desirable behaviour.
  17. Legal responsibilities of owners/keepers and judicial consequences of legislation designed to protect the environment, other animals and people from harm by animals.
  18. The importance of professional indemnity insurance.

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ABTC Standard for individuals who engage in work as a legal expert witness in the field of animal behaviour and/or training.

Overview

This standard relates to the science of animal behaviour and training as it pertains to the assessment, interpretation and explanation of the behaviour of animals, and their interactions with each other and with humans, in matters brought before the UK judicial system, or other body, where independent expert evidence is required. The assessment and interpretation can be made in person and / or through the examination of case documentation.

This standard involves:

  • Understanding how to evaluate the behaviour of animals, the effects of their behaviour upon other human and non-human animals, and the effects of the behaviour of other non-human and humans, husbandry and training methods upon them, based on best practice and scientific evidence.
  • Critical assessment of written, verbal and visual evidence,
  • Designing animal assessments relevant to individual legal cases

Interpreting that information and providing explanations in terms of evidential fact and opinion that conform to the UK Civil and Criminal Procedure Rules for an expert.

This standard is suitable for those working in the legal expert witness sector who have an extensive understanding of clinical animal behaviour and/or training, animal husbandry, legal frameworks relating to expert witnesses and the related legal/scientific/clinical literature, who make their expertise available within judicial processes. These standards apply to each and every animal species for which the individual professes expertise (“relevant animals”).

Applications to be registered

In order to apply to be listed on the Expert Witness register an individual will need:

  1. to be a registered ABTC practitioner (the specific register will limit their sphere of expertise) and have one of the following:
  2. either Individual membership or Fellowship of the Expert Witness Institute or
  3. Already be undertaking expert witness work and be able to provide, for ABTC scrutiny,
  4. three references from instructing solicitors andone anonymised CPR compliant expert witness report, that includes an assessment of an animal. This report must have been used in real case, as confirmed by an accompanying solicitor's instruction letter. The case must have been heard and completed

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Official Address

Animal Behaviour and Training Council,
c/o Montpelier Professional Limited
Unit 18 Petteril Side,
Harraby Green Business Park,
Carlisle
CA1 2SQ

© 2016 - The Animal Behaviour and Training Council - Registered number 9461544 - "A not for profit organisation"
Registered Charity Number 1164009

Promoting Excellence in Animal Behaviour and Training