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  • Writer's pictureNICE

Canine Pain, Fear and Regulation of Dog Trainers

Dog training and behaviour is a self-regulated profession, and it’s clear how divided, and varied professional standards are.

We see people calling themselves master dog trainers and dog whisperers on the television while simultaneously not recognising pain-related behaviour. People call scared dogs bad dogs and then act to make them more afraid, but why is this happening?

It all comes down to a lack of regulation and no formal standards within the profession.

The problem with the lack of regulation in dog training and behaviour is that it allows practice with a lack of ethics and understanding. And this is the worrying thing.

Dogs are coping with a lot in the name of dog training. People who insist on using punishment with dogs are plentiful, sadly. But so are people who insist on learning everything they can about dogs and being kind to them.

So how can we do it right?

Before we become dog professionals, we must know the true and accurate scientific theory of dogs. This has exploded over the last 30 years, and we know that dogs have strong emotional responses, build strong, reliable bonds and yet require survival and safety at the core of their existence – just as we do.

When we work as dog professionals, we need to understand the signs of pain, fear and anxiety. We must know that training is only suitable for some behaviours and is not everything. When properly educated, we realise that training is only a tiny percentage of the role.

When we teach and assess dog professionals, we need to know and teach the complex needs of each case they might see. We must be sure we are preparing people who will recognise fear, pain, and anxiety and counsel dogs and their people as a family unit.

Dogs need professionals who know the signs of pain and get that dog off to the vet. They need professionals who don’t charge into a situation thinking they know everything while scaring and suppressing a dog’s needs to stop them from barking or growling.

Dogs need people who stand back and observe. Professional, educated people who want to invest in their knowledge and put their learning into practice to recognise what we can do for the dog, not what the dog can do for us.

Experience is crucial to canine professionalism, but it will never replace formal education and assessment. Education matters, and the right kind of regulation should ensure it exists. Dogs need you and me to be open-minded and willing to learn more every day.

The National Institute of Canine Ethics values education at its core and provides our members with two bespoke specialist webinars a month. We are an ABTC approved practitioner organisation. We work with every applicant and member personally and have a team of people ensuring our standards and your experience.

Because in the absence of formal regulation, we chose the best possible self-regulation for us, for you and the dogs.

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