Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #391
All Things Great and Small: Education and Employment in Applied Animal Behavior
Monday, May 26, 2008
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Area: EDC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Margaret H. Gibbs (Leash & Collar Dog Training)
Discussant: Jennifer L. Sobie (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
Abstract: Animal behavior is a field recognized to require an extensive knowledge of species-specific ethology coupled with a complete and academically supported understanding of the principles and applications of behavior analysis. This field has experienced rapid and indeed impressive growth in recent years; growth that has been reflected in part by the exponential increase in animal behavior-related presentations at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. In addition, the Applied Animal Behavior SIG receives steady inquiries from both undergraduate and graduate students regarding the availability and location of behavior analytic programs that offer education relevant to applied animal behavior. However, accredited programs of study in AAB are few, and an informal poll of a number of university department chairs indicates that this may be due in part to an uncertainty regarding the existence of practical employment in the field. This symposium packages presentations from four distinct employment sectors in Applied Animal Behavior as a means to inform ABA membership of the growth and viability of the field of Applied Animal Behavior.
The Silent Sector: Behavior Analysis and Animal Sheltering.
CARMEN BUITRAGO (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Kristen Collins (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
Abstract: It is common knowledge to all that animal shelters take in abandoned and abused animals, lost house pets, and promote general animal health and welfare. What may not be as widely known is that animal sheltering is a growing employment sector in the United Sates, and that the services of animal shelters are increasingly encompassing animal behavior management and treatment. These services demand applicants with both the education and experience to utilize behavior analysis in treatment of diverse and complex behavior problems including aggression, resource guarding, separation anxiety and robust disobedience. This presentation offers information on the employment market and job opportunities in animal sheltering today.
Companion Animal Behaviour Counseling: Provision within the Profession.
ELIZABETH ANNE MCBRIDE (University of Southampton)
Abstract: Companion animal behaviour counseling is a rapidly expanding professional field. As the population moves more and more toward urban living and pets are expected to live in cramped quarters with little species-relevant enrichment, serious behaviour problems are on the increase and are driving the field. Also contributing is the cultural acceptance of pets as companions rather than working animals, and the accompanying increase in pet-to-pet interaction. At the same time, the current litigation cultural demands responsibility in pet ownership, including and perhaps most especially the pet’s behaviour. Competent companion animal behaviour consultation derives from a multidisciplinary educational background that includes knowledge of learning theory and behaviour analysis, veterinary science, ethology, physiology, pharmacology, law, and clinical behaviour counseling, areas of expertise that cannot be acquired through nonacademic training experiences. Recognition of this fact is driving increased referrals to educated professionals in the field. This presentation provides an overview of the field of companion animal behaviour counseling and opportunities for employment.
Career Opportunities in Marine Mammal Science and Husbandry.
KENNETH T. RAMIREZ (John G. Shedd Aquarium)
Abstract: Marine mammal training is a rewarding but difficult career to pursue. The available positions are finite, and the competition for positions is high. Education requirements begin with a Bachelor of Science or Arts degree incorporating courses in learning theory and behavior analysis, and progress according to the specific requirements of the actual position. In addition, all facilities require practical animal experience, and most suggest internship experience in an actual aquarium or oceanarium setting. Well-qualified intern applicants will find themselves applying a number of times before earning acceptance into a program. On the up side, work with marine mammals is very rewarding and continually interesting, offering diversity both in daily work sessions and challenges facing the training team. This presentation will provide a bit of insight into the opportunities for students interested in a career in marine mammal training.



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