Nancy Williams is a certified applied animal behaviorist who operates a full-time training and behavior practice for dogs and cats in Manchester. Originally striving to become a veterinarian, Williams shifted her focus to improve training practices after discovering many outdated methods still in use. She has now been working with dogs and cats for over 35 years and has worked in just about every field with animals.
Williams has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Towson University. She is also a registered veterinary technician, a research animal technologist and holds a myriad of other titles and credentials.
What are the responsibilities of your current role?
“I have many different hats! I may work with puppies and kittens training basic behaviors and then work with very aggressive dogs and cats. I conduct seminars and participate in webinars and lecture for animal-related associations, such as clubs and veterinary establishments. I am frequently involved with ongoing legal issues involving dog aggression.”
What is your favorite part about your daily duties?
“Great days are solving the pet’s problem behaviors and receiving the report that the owner is very pleased with the results! Veterinarians refer to me after the pet owner has failed to solve the problem despite advice from multiple behaviorist, the Internet and television shows. Using my training in order to find the motivation for the pet’s behavior and addressing the issues is always a rewarding adventure! Every day is different, providing opportunities to learn from every pet, owner or agency that I work with.”
How has your education and training prepared you for your current role?
“My graduate degree in animal behavior and research and my certification as an associate applied animal behaviorist by the Animal Behavior Society and my certification as a veterinary technician have prepared me for my work. Veterinarians refer the majority of my cases. I always provide a report to the veterinarian, including updates on the pet’s progress. My education, research background, experience as a trainer and veterinary technician provided the skills to assess each case. I use data from cases to modify and improve training protocols throughout the year.”
What do you do to continue your education and training?
“I consult with companies conducting research to improve ways to train animals or improve products for pets. I also attend seminars given by other experts in my field, including veterinary behaviorist. As I provide a written report to veterinarians on each referral case, I use this opportunity to research case literature to ensure that my knowledge is up to date.”
Do you have any advice for others looking to enter this field?
“Secure at least a bachelor’s or master’s in a related animal behavior field and receive mentoring by an expert. Certification by the Animal Behavior Society is preferred, rather than certification by a ‘dog trainer’ organization. Veterinarians and veterinary behaviorist recognize certified animal behaviorists and refer to them.”
Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.