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Professional Certification
for Companion Animal Behavior Counselors
 

What is the Mission of the Board of Professional certification?

The Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors (ACABC) is devoted to the stewardship and enlightened appreciation of companion animals and is committed to the promise that these objectives can best be achieved with the guidance of well-educated and experienced companion animal behavior counselors and behavioral practitioners. To this end, ACABC has developed a professional credentialing program to be administered by its Board of Professional Certification (BOPC) to:

  • evaluate the educational and professional experience of companion animal behavior counselors and behavioral practitioners and to guide them and the public in defining minimum standards of education and experience for professional companion animal behavior counselors and behavioral practitioners and to encourage all practicing in this field to meet such standards;
  • create and maintain public confidence in the advice and opinions of certified companion animal behavior counselors and practioners, as well as, educate experienced professionals who have pledged to uphold the code of ethics and standards of professional conduct of ACABC and to act in the best interests of these companion animals and the public;
  • assist the public, the veterinary profession, and the companion animal services industry in evaluating companion animal behavior counselors and behavioral practitioners by establishing a procedure for critical peer evaluation based upon defined minimum standards of education, and supervised experience for professional companion animal behavior counselors and behavioral practitioners and to encourage all practicing to meet such standards.
  • assist its certified members with their profession through global marketing and public relations practices, education, networking, research, advertising and media relations, while maintaining the highest level of professional integrity and the humane treatment of animals.

Why seek professional certification?

The United States and most other countries do not have government licensing requirements for applied animal behavior professionals. The absence of such licensing and review has allowed many individuals to call themselves animal behaviorists, animal behavior professionals, animal behavior experts, and alike. The improvement of the qualifications of scientific education in the field of applied companion animal behavior and the use of humane and non-aversive methods of animal training and behavior modification will establish the conformity and regulate acceptable standards in the field of applied companion animal behavior and practice.

Certification by a respected peer-reviewed professional membership organization comprised of academics, clinicians and behavior practitioners is therefore beneficial to any applied animal behavior professional. Such a credential for a specific companion animal species (dog, cat, bird, or horse) provides the public, the veterinary profession, and other animal professionals with a credential attesting to the education, supervised observation, and testing of a practicing individual.

What are the levels of professional certification?

Effective April 1, 2004 the Board of Professional Certification offers three levels of professional credentials.

Board Certified Companion Animal Behaviorist (BCCAB)

Certified Canine Behavior Counselor (CBC)

Certified Dog Training Instructor (CDTI)

Certified Canine Behavior Counselors and Certified Dog Training Instructor levels require experience working in the applied animal science field for not less than 3 years and evidence of 80 contact hours (8 CEUs) of continuing education from an approved continuing education provider such as an International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET) approved provider. During the first 3 years of certification, each credential will have an "A" before the professional title to signify "Associate," e.g. ACBC.

What are the requirements for board certification?

Board Certified Companion Animal Behaviorist (BCCAB)

The Board Certified Companion Animal Behaviorist (BCCAB) credential will be granted to professionals who have completed a Masters degree or higher (with a minimum of 24 credits in behavioral science and required courses in the following subject areas) and a BOPC supervised internship with a BOPC-approved mentor or experiential review by the BOPC.

  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Learning
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Ethology, comparative psychology or animal behavior
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Physiological psychology
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Family counseling
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of a general small business practice/ethics course
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Experimental psychology or research methods
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Introduction to Statistics
  • 9 credits or 144 contact hours of theoretical coursework in a minimum of three (3) companion animal species (e.g. canine, feline, equine, avian and reptilian) or equivalent
  • A minimum of three years of practical training and experience in applied companion animal behavior.

The BCCAB credential is intended for professionals who conduct scientific research in the field, teach on the degree granting institution, career school, or clinical levels, and/or practice applied companion animal behavior counseling.

Certified Canine Behavior Counselor (CBC)

The certified Canine Behavior Counselor (CBC) credential will be granted to professionals who have completed the following college or career school coursework and a BOPC supervised internship with a BOPC-approved mentor. The theoretical courses required are:

  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Leaning
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Ethology or Biopsychology
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Behavior Modification and Treatment
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Animal Nutrition and Wellness
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Business Practices and Ethics or Animal Welfare Science
  • 3 credits or 48 contact hours of Family Counseling and Communication (2004 applications)

The practical courses or workshops required are:

  • 2 credits 48 contact hours in animal training and instructor skills development (dogs only)
  • 2 credits 48 contact hours in assessment, diagnosis, treatment and family counseling in abnormal behavior

Theoretical courses may be taken through a BOPC Approved Education Provider (AEP) or at regionally accredited college and university. Practical courses or workshops must be taken with BOPC Approved Education Providers only.

The CBC credential is intended for professionals who practice applied companion animal behavior counseling in the private or public sector or as an associate at a veterinary hospital or clinic practice.

Certified Dog Training Instructor (CDTI)

The Certified Dog Training Instructor (CDTI) credential will be awarded to professionals who have completed a BOPC approved practical course in dog training and instructor skills development by an Approved Education Provider. An internship is also required with a BOPC mentor. These individuals will be qualified to train family dogs in basic obedience, teach obedience classes as an instructor, and work with families to modify normal but unwanted behavior. The Associate Dog Training Instructor (ADTI) will be offered in lieu of the CDTI for individuals with less than three years experience in the field. Satisfactory documentation in the field must accompany applicants for the CDTI credential.

The CDTI credential is intended for professionals who teach family dog obedience training classes, perform dog training services, and assist family members with dogs that present behavior problems that are normal for the species, but unwanted.

Internship/Mentorship Requirement

Each applicant for professional certification must complete a period of supervised experience by a BOPC-approved certified member. The honorarium for this service is included in your application for certification fee. In some cases, you will work under the supervision of a board certified member at an AEP animal behavior facility. In other cases where this is not available to a certification candidate, a distance-communication mentor will be assigned by the BOPC. Candidates will report current animal behavior cases to their mentor who will review them as part of the certification process.

How do I apply for Certification?

Professional certification is available only to members of the Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors. To apply for membership, please visit our website at www.animalbehaviorcounselors.org and use our Online Membership Form. Annual dues are US $125 per year, due prior to January 1 of each year, and must be paid in full in order to apply for and maintain a professional certification credential.

To apply online for professional certification, visit the Member Lounge (user ID and password necessary), complete the online Application for Certification, and pay the related fees via a major credit card or online check. The fee for the initial application for certification is US $495. This fee includes a US $195 administrative cost and a US $300 mentor honarium. All fees are non-refundable. Directions for completing the application, required supporting documentation, and the mailing address to which the documentation should be sent via postal mail is included.

Certification for current members is valid for three (3) years. Certified members must apply for re-certification to the ACABC Board of Professional Certification at the end of each three (3) year period. The fee for re-certification is US US $195 and is non-refundable. Evidence of the completion of approved Continuing Education Units (CEUs) must also accompany applications for re-certification (effective June 1, 2003).

When and how do I renew my Certification?

Certification must be renewed every three (3) years through the Board of Professional Certification (BOPC). This may be done online from the password-protected Member Area link from our home page. Renewal requires a U.S. $195 renewal fee (payable online with a check or credit card) and evidence of successful completion of eighty (80) contact hours (8 CEUs) of continuing education from an approved continuing education provider, e.g. the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). Contact the Chairperson of the BOPC for an opinion if you are not sure if a continuing education course or workshop is acceptable. Approved CEU providers have had their organization and course work reviewed by an independent educational reviewing organization such as IACET.

How does a licensed school become an Approved Education Provider?

The Board of Professional Certification invites academic institutions including regionally accredited colleges and universities, state or government licensed private and vocational schools, and state or government licensed career schools to apply for Approved Education Provider (AEP) status and curricula approval for professional certification. You may write for requirements and an application to:

To apply for AEP status, a school must complete:

School Application for AEP
School Director and Teacher Applications
Application for Approval of a Curriculum or a Course
(including complete performance objectives for each course including conditions, student behaviors, and standards).

All curriculum applications are subject to the final approval of the Board of Professional Certification. There is a U.S. $1500 application fee plus any other associated expenses related to the review and approval process and a U.S. $750 per year fee to maintain AEP status.

 
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