Residency Program in Behavior


The overall objective is to provide the clinical experiences and learning opportunities sufficient to enable the resident to meet the requirements to sit the board examination of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) while contributing to the clinical service and teaching programs of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at U.C. Davis. The specific objectives are outlined below.

  • Provide advanced training and skills in clinical animal behavior. This training will emphasize the diagnosis and treatment of problem and abnormal behavior of companion animals. When opportunities prevail, the training will deal with equine and food animal behavioral problems and with cases presented to the other services.
  • Provide clinical teaching experience of veterinary students rotating through the Behavior Service. This teaching experience will be in conjunction with other senior clinicians associated with the Service.
  • Provide experience in designing and implementing at least one and potentially two research projects in clinical animal behavior. This research experience will lead to at least one publication in an approved peer-reviewed journal that is first-authored by the resident. The resident may also engage in other research activities in collaboration with clinicians associated with the VMTH.
  • Provide limited training in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of cases in other services in the VMTH as appropriate. Such arrangements will be made through clinicians associated with these other Services.
  • Provide guidance in obtaining advanced knowledge regarding species-typical behavioral patterns, learning theory, concepts in ethology, role of the central nervous system in behavior, hormonal influences on behavior and behavioral pharmacology through auditing courses, participating in seminars and workshops, and self study.

History and Background

The Behavior Service has operated as an independent service for over thirty years and has provided residency training for veterinarians who are now diplomates in ACVB.

The U.C. Davis campus is an ideal study center for residency training in behavior because of the intellectual resources available on campus in the area of basic animal behavior and the long-standing reputation of the School of Veterinary Medicine in research and teaching in clinical animal behavior. U.C. Davis has more animal behaviorists (located in multiple departments across campus) than any other campus in the world, and has a world-renowned Ph.D. graduate group program in animal behavior. The Animal Behavior Graduate Group makes available coursework, seminars, and workshops that are a valuable resource in the training of residents in the basic discipline of animal behavior. The existence of a medical school makes advanced coursework in psychopharmacology and other relevant subjects available.

Qualifications Required of Applicants

The applicant must have a DVM or equivalent degree from a veterinary educational institution approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and must have completed a 1-year internship or equivalent.

Description of Training

The duration of the residency is three years. Continuation into the second and third years is contingent upon satisfactory performance in the preceding year. The start time of the training is generally August 1. The resident is provided 2 days of scheduled paid vacation each month; it is required that the vacation will be taken prior to the end of the residency training program.

Supervision and Assignment of Cases
The resident is expected to participate daily in out-patient receiving of the Behavior Service with the exception of planned vacations, attendance at professional meetings, absence from illness and absence by special arrangement with the Chief of Service. The resident will spend approximately 75% of her or his time in the clinics with clients and patient care (including follow-up and progress checks). This also includes non-traditional patients and clients (shelter evaluations, zoo consultations, etc.). Duties will include the receiving, diagnosis, and therapy of behavior cases presented to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, under the supervision of, and in consultation with, the senior staff including at least one diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Initially the resident will participate in the case workup and formulation of treatment approaches along with a senior clinician. After this introductory phase the resident will have primary patient care responsibilities for about 3-6 new cases per week, plus rechecks, for 40 weeks a year in the Behavior Service under the supervision of senior clinicians associated with the Service that are ACVB diplomates. The resident is expected to maintain, in an orderly manner, records of the cases in VMTH files and computer database. The resident will be responsible for follow-up of clients seen. The resident will review, on a weekly basis at minimum, the cases under his/her responsibility with one of the ACVB diplomates associated with the Service. Over three years, it is expected the resident shall be responsible for about 200-500 cases. Telephone or telemedicine casework (coordinated through referring veterinarians), if utilized, shall not exceed 10% of the total caseload.

Consultation with Other Services
The resident will be available for consultation on cases in other VMTH Services on a daily basis.

Experience with Food Animal, Equine, Laboratory Animal and Exotic Animal Behavior
It is necessary for the resident to obtain some background and experience in these areas, but because residents will come into the program with varying background, each resident will plan, with the ACVB diplomate mentor, a program to provide this experience. Usually this will involve auditing courses, reading assigned books and papers and spending time in seminars relevant to gaining this experience. When possible, the resident will be involved in cases dealing with food, equine, laboratory and exotic animals of other services when part of the etiology, diagnosis or treatment involves behavior.

Other Duties
The resident will also be expected to take part in other duties, including but not limited to, teaching dog training classes, helping teach didactic classes and laboratories for veterinary students, taking part in student-run rounds and laboratories, and providing other educational opportunities for veterinary students. They may also be asked to provide continuing education to veterinarians and other professionals.

Preparation in Scientific Disciplines Relevant to Behavior
The resident is expected to attend courses recommended by his/her mentor, including courses offered across the UC Davis campus. The resident is encouraged to attend seminars that are regularly held on campus. A part of the educational process is to attend the Veterinary Behavior Symposium and AVMA Convention, and possibly other national or international meetings where clinical animal behavior material is presented. This academic preparation should reflect the focus of the ACVB boards, including but not limited to, behavioral sciences, basic sciences such as neurobiology, psychology, physiology, pharmacology and pathology related to behavior, and clinical areas of medicine and neurology related to clinical animal behavior. Funds for part of this travel may be available. The resident will be engaged in considerable self-study using textbooks, review papers and original data papers as recommended by the mentor and as suggested by the reading list of ACVB.

Additionally the resident will participate in resident rounds with other residents enrolled in ACVB training programs. The topics of learning theory, ethology, psychopharmacology and endocrinology must be included in this self-study.

Research Project
The resident will be required to engage in clinical research as soon as feasible after starting in the program and to be responsible for at least one and preferably two projects over the three years. Modest research funds are usually available. At least one of the research projects is expected to lead to a publication of which the resident is first-author, that is accepted in a peer reviewed journal approved by the ACVB. The resident may also participate in publications of case reports and other clinically related publications. The resident is expected to present the research at House Officer Seminar Day.

It is required that the resident notify the ACVB Executive Director that she or he is commencing a conforming residency soon after beginning the residency program. This registration requires a fee.

The VMTH is committed to building strong relationships with its constituents. A major part of the resident's duties, therefore, includes timely communication with referring veterinarians and clients.

For application procedures, salary and benefits, and other information about the residency program, please see General Information on the VMTH web site. 

Applications are due by December 9, 2019 9:00pm EST

Please note: Foreign nationals must be eligible for either a TN or J1 visa with no bars or home country requirement.

Information for Foreign Applicants

The University of California, Davis, and the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are interested in candidates who are committed to the highest standards of scholarship and professional activities, and to the development of a campus climate that supports equality and diversity.