Image showing stamps lying against a pile of documents. On the stamps you can read, regulations and the smaller stamp rules. A questionmark is placed on the image.

Is it time for dog trainers and behaviourists to be regulated?

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by Erik Prins

24/06/2023

Following an article in vettimes.co.uk by Allister Webb, it seemed a good time to live dangerously as this post could generate less pleasant responses from dog trainers and behaviourists alike.

Let’s make one thing clear, at the point of penning this post, there is no legislation in place which requires dog trainers or behaviourists to have any qualifications at all. I myself volunteer at a dog training club where those who instruct have little or no qualifications regarding dog training or behaviour. Are they bad trainers, NO, they are brilliant at what they do.

What’s the problem then?

Let me illustrate this by using my daughter as an example, my daughter calls me chef now and then. I cook most meals in our household, my daughter believes they are nice, and this is why she calls me a chef. Whilst I have been cooking for 35 years, that does not make me a chef. Why, because I do not have the knowledge and understanding of how to use ingredients or cooking techniques etc.

Let me ask you this; would you want to be seen by an unqualified plumber, therapist or nurse? If the answer is no, for what reason should you pay for, sometimes costly, trainers or behaviourists who have no or limited qualifications?

Someone is listening to stories you can see hands and an ear through broken yellow paper. There are speech balloons alover the yellow paper.
listening to stories

The stories I hear;

  • Clients have had to place their puppy in a cupboard during training classes because it was barking.
  • Clients told me they used a trainer/behaviourist who provided residential training using an e-collar. When their dog was returned home they noticed their dog behaved better but is now fearful.
  • On a professional dog walking forum someone asked if it is a problem having dogs off-leash near life stock.
  • The saddest story I was told was of a behaviourist who (allegedly) had done a short online course. They worked with a client who had a dog with aggression issues, they provided residential behaviour modification for a week. When the dog was returned home, the dog’s aggression had become worse. A vet later advised to euthanise the dog.   

Please note, some of the stories are not verified, if true they show that a lack of knowledge and understanding can cause more harm than good.

Image of people demontrating, one persone is holding a plackard with the words "we need change"
we need change

A reason to act

Unfortunately, the above stories are not the exception to the rule. Without the knowledge and understanding some can do more harm than good. Here is the answer to the headline, yes it is time we regulate the industry, which for me includes dog walkers. We should not wait until something bad happens to someone in the spotlight. It is time that an industry which goes back millennia starts to be better controlled and regulated.

In my next post, I will do my best to give you some tips about how to find a dog trainer/behaviourist. There are no guarantees but at least I can point you in a direction to allow you to make informed choices.

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About the Author

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Erik Prins

Hello, My name is Erik, I am a 3D (Dutch, Dyslexic, Diabetic), 55-year-old young man who lives with his wife, daughter and 3 Greyhounds in North Warwickshire. I volunteer as a dog trainer and run my own dog training and dog psychology business. I am proudly Dyslexic, please forgive my grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and you may be so lucky to experience my chaotic mind. I hope you will enjoy the content as it builds up over time.