Recently a committee of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists developed guidelines that define the duties and limitations of technicians specializing in providing behavior medicine to the public. These guidelines are intended for use by the soon-to-be-established Academy of Behavior Technicians. The guidelines broadly cover four key areas: accepted tasks within the purview of the veterinary behavior technician, description of technician expertise, how to integrate a behavior program into a practice, and clinical behavior consults. The document states that these technicians should have graduated from an AVMA-accredited school of veterinary technology or be credentialed by their state and should be able to perform all the core tasks expected of a veterinary technician. Behavior technicians should be thoroughly knowledgeable about animal behavior and the psychology of learning and how to apply theory to training and behavior modification. Among other responsibilities, the veterinary behavior technician should be able to provide prepurchase counseling, intervene with problem prevention, prepare new-pet kits, offer client counseling, offer puppy and kitten classes, conduct obedience classes, and conduct behavior wellness appointments. Regarding client behavior consults, the technician should be able to take a history, discuss diagnostic procedures, monitor behavior plans and treatment programs, and perform follow-up procedures. These guidelines are the first draft and are not considered definitive or exhaustive. The guidelines state that these technicians are comparable to nurse practitioners and should be expected to have more competencies than a nonspecialized technician or dog trainer. The diagnosis of behavior problems is the responsibility of a veterinarian.

COMMENTARY: The management and prevention of behavior problems can be time-consuming for the veterinary professional staff. Technicians can play a pivotal role in managing behavior cases in the small animal clinic setting. With the establishment of the veterinary behavior technician specialty comes the need for suggested academic requirements and practice guidelines. This article does an excellent job outlining many of the possible duties of a behavior technician and ways that they can assist with the integration of a behavior program into a veterinary practice.

The role and responsibilities of behavior technicians in behavior treatment and therapy.  Luescher AU, Flannigan G, Frank D, Mertens P. J VET BEHAV 2:23-35, 2007.