Profession animal behaviourist

Animal behaviourists work with animals and people to study, observe, assess and understand animal behaviour in relation to specific factors and to prevent or address inappropriate or problematic behaviours within individual animals through the development of suitable environments and management regimes, in accordance with national legislation. 

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Personality Type

  • Investigative / Realistic
  • Investigative / Artistic
  • Investigative / Social

Knowledge

  • Physiology of animals

    The study of the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical and biochemical functioning of animals, their organs and their cells.

  • Animal behaviour

    The natural behavioural patterns of animals, i.e. how normal and abnormal behaviour might be expressed according to species, environment, human-animal interaction and occupation.

  • Safe work practices in a veterinary setting

    Safe work practices in a veterinary setting in order to identify hazards and associated risks so as to prevent accidents or incidents. This includes injury from animals, zoonotic diseases, chemicals, equipment and working environment.

  • Animal evolution

    The evolutionary history of animals and the development of species and their behaviour through domestication.

  • Animal welfare

    Universally recognized animal welfare needs as applied to species, situation and occupation. These are: need for a suitable environment need for a suitable diet need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

  • Signs of animal illness

    Physical, behavioural and environmental signs of health and ill health in various animals.

  • Anatomy of animals

    The study of animal body parts, their structure and dynamic relationships, on a level as demanded by the specific occupation.

  • Biosecurity related to animals

    Awareness of hygiene and bio-security measures when working with animals, including causes, transmission and prevention of diseases and use of policies, materials and equipment.

  • Neuroanatomy of animals

    The study of the central and peripheral nervous system of animals, including its components such as the fiber tracts and the visual, sensory, auditory and motor pathways.

  • Animal welfare legislation

    The legal boundaries, codes of professional conduct, national and EU regulatory frameworks and legal procedures of working with animals and living organisms, ensuring their welfare and health.

  • Animal training

    Animal responses to specific conditions or stimuli. Animal behaviour, ethology, learning theory, training methods, equipment, as well as communicating and working with animals and humans.

  • Environmental enrichment for animals

    Types, methods and use of enrichment for animals to allow the expression of natural behaviour, including the provision of environmental stimuli, feeding activities, puzzles, items for manipulation, social and training activities.

  • Neurophysiology of animals

    The specialism of veterinary medicine dealing with the study of the functioning of the nervous system of animals, including the functioning of nerve conductions and ion channels, the massed responses of nerve trunks, fiber tracts and nuclei, and inhibitory and excitatory synaptic functions, as well as neuromuscular junctions, different motor unit types and motor control, and the cerebellum.

Skills

  • Deal with challenging people

    Work safely and communicate effectively with individuals and groups of people who are in challenging circumstances. This would include recognition of signs of aggression, distress, threatening and how to address them to promote personal safety and that of others.

  • Control animal movement

    Direct, control or restrain some or part of an animal's, or a group of animals', movement.

  • Implement training programmes for animals

    Implement training programmes for animals for basic training purposes or to meet specific objectives, following a developed training programme, and reviewing and recording progress against set objectives.'

  • Provide an enriching environment for animals

    Provide an enriching environment for animals to allow the expression of natural behaviour, and including adjusting environmental conditions, delivering feeding and puzzle exercises, and implementing manipulation, social, and training activities.'

  • Apply safe work practices in a veterinary setting

    Apply safe work practices in a veterinary setting in order to identify hazards and associated risks so as to prevent accidents or incidents. This includes injury from animals, zoonotic diseases, chemicals, equipment and work environments.

  • Design training programmes for individuals and animals

    Develop programmes to train humans and animals work together. Set objectives and targets. Evaluate the implementation of the training programme and progress by both the person and animal concerned.

  • Train animals and individuals to work together

    Train animals and individuals to work together, including the match between individuals and animals, the design of integrated training programmes for people and animals, implementation of integrated training programmes, evaluation of integrated training programmes for people and animals against agreed outcomes and evaluating the compatibility between individuals and animals in relation to physical characteristics.

  • Select animals for training

    Select animals for training using selection criteria including intended outcome of training, age, temperament, species and breed differences. Selection of animals for training includes basic training or training to meet specific objectives.

  • Manage personal professional development

    Take responsibility for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Engage in learning to support and update professional competence. Identify priority areas for professional development based on reflection about own practice and through contact with peers and stakeholders.

  • Advise on animal welfare

    Prepare and provide information to individuals or groups of people on how to promote the health and well-being of animals, and how risks to animal health and welfare may be reduced. Provide recommendations for corrective actions.

  • Monitor the welfare of animals

    Monitor animals’ physical condition and behaviour and report any concerns or unexpected changes, including signs of health or ill-health, appearance, condition of the animals' accommodation, intake of food and water and environmental conditions.

  • Assess animal behaviour

    Observe and evaluate the behaviour of animals in order to work with them safely and recognise deviations from normal behaviour that signal compromised health and welfare.'

  • Manage animal hygiene

    Plan and use appropriate hygiene measures to prevent transmission of diseases and ensure an effective overall hygiene. Maintain and follow hygiene procedures and regulations when working with animals, communicate site hygiene controls and protocols to others. Manage the safe disposal of waste according to destination and local regulations.

  • Implement exercise activities for animals

    Provide exercise opportunities that are suitable for respective animals and meet their particular physical requirements.'

  • Provide animal training

    Provide training in basic handling, habituation, and obedience to enable the completion of day-to-day tasks while minimising the risks to the animal, the handler, and others.'

  • Safely interact with animals

    Ensure a safe and humane interaction with the animal avoiding factors that will negatively affect their behaviours. This includes the use of humane training aids/equipment, as well as explaining their use to owners/keepers, to ensure they are used appropriately and the welfare of the animal is protected.

  • Assess the compatibility of individuals and animals to work together

    Assess the compatibility of humans and animals to work together, in relation to physical characteristics, capability, temperament and potential.

  • Design training programmes for animals

    Assess the training needs of the animal and select appropriate methods and activities to meet training objectives.

  • Manage animal biosecurity

    Plan and use appropriate biosafety measures to prevent transmission of diseases and ensure effective overall biosecurity. Maintain and follow biosecurity procedures and infection control when working with animals, including recognising potential health issues and taking appropriate action, communicating site hygiene control measures and biosecurity procedures, as well as reporting to others.

  • Promote animal welfare

    Promote good practice and work with compassion to sustain and promote high standards of animal welfare at all times by adapting personal behaviour and managing environmental factors.

  • Design plans to address undesirable behaviour in animals

    Gather information about the animal behaviour issues, interpret relevant information about the animal, assess the impact of external factors, and assess husbandry/management practices on the animal to develop a plan which tackles undesirable behaviour.

  • Manage animal welfare

    Plan, manage and evaluate the application of the five universally recognised animal welfare needs as appropriate to species, situation and own occupation.

  • Handle veterinary emergencies

    Handle unforeseen incidents concerning animals and circumstances which call for urgent action in an appropriate professional manner.

Optional knowledge and skills

maintain relationships with animal welfare establishments use different communication channels take advantage of learning opportunities in veterinary science interview animal owners on animals' conditions veterinary terminology treat animals ethically provide improvement strategies make decisions regarding the animal's welfare animal production science collaborate with animal related professionals provide mentorship inspect data maintain animal accommodation adapt to changing situations practise veterinary professional codes of conduct exercise patience analyse environmental data cope with challenging circumstances in the veterinary sector assess animal's condition maintain veterinary clinical records