Where to Go for Help
For issues with aggression or tearfulness that is so profound as to cause fear biting, seek professional help. If you are currently working with a professional dog trainer or are a member of a training club, ask if this person or a member of the club works with animal behavior, particularly dogs with aggression or fear biting issues. This is a more specialized area of training, and not every trainer is qualified to give assistance. Go with your gut feelings on this one if you sense that this is beyond the scope of a trainer's expertise or if you don't like the training methods that the individual is suggesting, such as anything involving punishment.
Animal Behavior Specialists
Individuals who specialize in assisting pet owners with their dogs' behavioral issues include certified animal behaviorists, veterinarians with an interest in animal behavior, and veterinarians who are diplomates with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB). Certified animal behaviorists possess a Ph.D. in animal behavior and are certified through the Animal Behavior Society. To find someone in your area, visit the Animal Behavior Society Web site, online at www.animalbehavior.org.
Veterinarians with an interest in animal behavior are a little more difficult to find; however, your veterinarian should know of any colleagues in the area with this additional training and experience. If not, visit the American Veterinary Medicine Association Web site, online at www.avma.org, or the American Animal Hospital Association Web site, online at www.aahanet.org.
Only veterinarians that have successfully undergone additional and extensive training, research, and education in the specialty field of animal behavior and have passed a critical peer review by the ACVB can hold the title of diplomate. Because of the amount of time and effort required to achieve this title, there are very few veterinarians in the country that are diplomates in this specialty. To find out if you are fortunate enough to have someone in your area, visit the ACVB Web site (online at www.veterinarybehaviorists.org), which includes an up-to-date listing.