I had been working with dogs for years at this stage, and building up my qualifications with a variety of different institutions, attending workshops, and learning through DVD's from the industries top experts (I continue my studies, I am just about to complete a masters in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Newcastle University, and I have just enrolled in a masters in Veterinary Forensic Science).
Anyway, back to the behaviourist thing. As it stands, absolutely anyone can claim to be a behaviourist, as it is unregulated. This seems to be good enough for some people, as there are 'behaviourists' across Ireland with little more than an online cert in behaviour from a mickey mouse institution, or even worse, no piece of paper at all.
My claim to fame is that I am a CERTIFIED dog behaviour consultant . We now also have the wonderful Maureen Byrne in Louth, who is also a certified dog behaviour consultant, and a certified clinical animal behaviourist (CCAB) no less! Unfortunately I cannot apply for CCAB certification as I do not practice in the UK/N.Ireland.
"Whats the big deal with the word 'certified'?" I hear you cry?
The below, taken from the APDT.COM website, answers the question very well.
International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultatants (thorough application process can be found here). I am a certified dog behaviour consultant.
Association of Animal Behaviour Professionals (thorough application process can be found here). I am a certified dog behaviour technician.
Association of Pet Dog Trainers Ireland (thorough application process can be found here). Professional membership.
Council of Certified Pet Dog Trainers (thorough application process can be found here). I am a knowledge AND skills assessed.
As it stands we don't have any organisation that assesses and approves behaviour consultants here in Ireland, and many of the UK organisations do not recognise Irish practitioners.
The Animal Behaviour and Training Council has recently been established in the UK to form an umbrella organisation for all of the respected certifying bodies, so that the UK veterinary Council has an independent organisation to which they can recommend instead of choosing one body over another.
The IAABC are in talks with the ABTC for recognition, so currently I recommend Irish trainers that wish to become certified apply to the IAABC.