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Membership Role Standards

Thank you for your interest in joining the National Institute for Canine Ethics (NICE).

This document contains information for all practitioner levels within the NICE, inclusive of which to apply for and how each is assessed before student, practising or full membership can be achieved. Please also see the other documents as you review this pack.

NICE provides a fair and ethical opportunity for canine practitioners to self-regulate within the canine training and behaviour industry, supports practitioners working in private or public practice and allows for the opportunity to be placed on the National Institute for Canine Ethics and Canine Behaviour and Training Council register, showing that you have the highest standard of ethics, education and practical experience set by yourself, NICE and the ABTC.

The level and standard you apply for will depend on where you are in your learning and practical experience journey. Please read the introduction and standards carefully before making your choice of which to apply for.

The application process for each standard at full membership level will include theoretical and practical assessment plus a formal interview if deemed necessary to conform knowledge. At completion of a successful application full membership will be awarded. The NICE wants you to pass this assessment process and will support you every step of the way to meet the professional standards of the role for which you are applying.

There are three types of membership available for each role.

  1. Student Membership is for people who are studying at the relevant level for the role which they apply for.

  2. Practising Membership is for individuals who have passed the theoretical qualification at their level and are working with real-life cases and gathering evidence to achieve full membership. To join as a practising member, you need formal or recognised qualifications at the level you are applying for. For dog trainer and dog training instructor, the NICE provides a written examination to test this knowledge and understanding. If you don’t currently have evidence of qualification, please consider applying for the student member role.

  3. Full Membership is awarded when the qualification for practising membership is achieved, evidence is submitted, and formal NICE interview is completed. Full membership will allow you to use the full membership badge and put forward to the ABTC to be placed onto the ABTC register.

 

NICE currently has three practitioner levels, based on the ABTC standards for the role.

  • Level 3 – Canine Trainer (NICE Canine Trainer)

  • Level 4 – Canine Training Instructor (NICE Canine Training Instructor)

  • Level 5 – Canine Behaviour Technician (NICE Canine Behaviour Technician)

Each level has specific standards that need to be met in order for you to gain full membership of the NICE. The standards are based on role standards of the ABTC and are detailed below. Please read them carefully when deciding which level and membership you want to apply for.  As a practitioner of NICE you should be familiar with all standards and competencies associated with the role you are applying and other roles, in order to ensure cases are treated by the correct level of practitioner. You should also be aware that all practitioner levels are expected to adhere to the Veterinary Surgeons act.

NICE Dog Trainer

Overview

At level 3 a dog trainer should have factual, procedural, and theoretical knowledge and understanding of dog training and behaviour including the theory of how dogs learn. They should be able to interpret and evaluate relevant information on dog training and behaviour, recognising any issue which may be detrimental to canine welfare.

 

The level 3 NICE dog Trainer will be aware of the nature of canine behaviour, dog training and relevant communication. They will know of different perspectives or approaches within the area of dog training and behaviour and always work within the ethical guidelines of the NICE and ABTC to maintain dog welfare of animals within their care.

 

The NICE Dog Trainer will identify, select, and use appropriate cognitive and practical skills, methods, and procedures to address dog behaviour problems while always maintaining ethical and welfare focused standards of training. Use appropriate investigation to inform actions and review how effective methods and actions have been.

 

Knowledge and Understanding - This Standard is at Level 3 You need to know and understand:

 

Canine Behaviour
  1. The natural behaviour patterns, body language and communication methods of the domestic canine.

  2. Canine Health and Welfare

  3. How the needs of canines under your duty of care may be assessed and addressed.

  4. The suitability, action, welfare and ethical considerations of training equipment and techniques for the species' and canines' physical and mental capabilities.

  5. How training will impact on canine welfare and how to analyse whether it is in the best interests of the canine involved.

  6. How to assess when training might not be appropriate.

Canine Learning and Training
  1. The process of establishing measurable goals and objectives for the training of canines.

  2. How to formulate training plans based on the objectives agreed between trainer and owner/handler and available resources.

  3. The factors which may affect the progress and success of training.

  4. Learning theory including operant conditioning, its use, effects and practical application, including the differences between positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment.

  5. The practical effects and consequences of classical conditioning on canine learning and behaviour.

  6. Schedules of reinforcement and how they can be used to establish and maintain desired behaviour.

  7. The need to guard against unintentional classical and operant conditioning creating undesirable behaviour.

  8. How behaviour can be extinguished by the removal of reinforcement, and the principle of spontaneous recovery.

  9. The importance of reviewing and revising a training plan to meet the objectives.

 

Canine Husbandry, Management and Welfare Legislation
  1. Your responsibility and accountability for duty of care of canines under the current canine welfare legislation.

  2. Health and safety policy and how to carry out a risk assessment related to the training environment.

  3. The importance of establishing and maintaining training records.

  4. Employment law, health and safety legislation and the UK-GDPR (United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation); and their implications for the Trainer, their clients and others.

 

Performance Criteria - you must be able to:

  1. Assess how the needs of canines (as defined in current canine welfare legislation) may be provided for whilst under your duty of care.

  2. Always comply with current canine welfare legislation and professional responsibilities.

  3. Approach all interactions with the canines in a manner that reinforces desirable behavioural patterns and avoids creating undesirable behavioural patterns.

  4. Communicate effectively with others.

  5. Undertake risk assessments in line with current health and safety legislation.

  6. Create and implement a training plan with realistic targets for a desired behaviour based upon the principles of learning and the intended outcomes of the training.

  7. Evaluate and select appropriate methods and equipment to achieve the desired outcome.

  8. Assess the potential welfare consequences of the training method and chosen equipment.

  9. Obtain and interpret relevant information from the appropriate sources:

  • life history

  • physical capabilities

  • age

  • health

  • diet

  • sexual status

  • training history

  • temperament/characteristics

  • breed and parentage

  • desired appearance

  • medical history

  • motivational drivers and effects.

 

  1. Prepare the canine, resources, and environment for the training session to aid the achievement of agreed learning outcomes.

  2. Interact and apply humane training techniques, based on sound learning theory, with the canine in a manner that minimises stress and allows training to be carried out safely.

  3. Demonstrate the ability to train a canine to do the exercises appropriate to the canine species, context, and desired behaviour, in a number of different ways, taking into account the canine 's species, breed, type and physical capabilities.

  4. Assess the progress of the training session against the plan at regular intervals and take action to resolve situations where training activities, methods or resources are found to be inappropriate.

  5. Modify the training plan as needed to take into account the response of the canine (and handler) to the training so far.

  6. Ensure records of the canine 's progress are maintained.

  7. Recognise your own limitations and seek qualified professional advice as necessary.

 

ABTC Standard - Canine Training Instructor

 

Overview

This Standard covers your interactions with the animal and the owner/handler. Teaching owners/handlers how to introduce and reinforce desirable behaviours, how to avoid and/or extinguish undesirable behaviours, ensuring that training progresses at an appropriate rate, goals are met and the training is evaluated to ensure each of the above. This role is teaching the owner/handler to train the animal.

At level 4 a dog training instructor will have practical, theoretical or technical knowledge and understanding of a subject or field of work to address problems that are well defined but complex and non-routine. Can analyse, interpret and evaluate relevant information and ideas. Is aware of the nature of approximate scope of the area of study or work.

 

Required skills at this level include the ability to identify, adapt and use appropriate cognitive and practical skills to inform actions and address problems that are complex and non-routine while normally fairly well-defined. Review the effectiveness and appropriateness of methods, actions and results.

 

The level 4 NICE dog training instructor will be aware of the nature of canine behaviour, dog training and relevant communication. They will know of different perspectives or approaches within the area of dog training and behaviour and always works within the ethical guidelines of the NICE and ABTC to maintain dog welfare of animals within their care. The role includes the ability to identify, select and use appropriate cognitive and practical skills, methods and procedures to address dog behaviour problems while maintaining ethical and welfare focused standards of training at all times. Use appropriate investigation to inform actions and review how effective methods and actions have been.

 

The NICE level 4 dog training instructor will also show evidence of knowledge and understanding required to work effectively with dog guardians and handlers in an instructor role. The instructor’s role includes skilled teaching and communication ability required by a competent dog training instructor to carry out the aforementioned role effectively not only with dogs but also with their guardians and

handlers.

Knowledge and Understanding - This Standard is at Level 4 You need to know and understand:

 

Canine Behaviour
  1. The natural behaviour patterns, body language and communication methods of the canine.

 

Canine Health and Welfare
  1. How the needs of canines under your duty of care may be assessed and addressed.

  2. The suitability, action, welfare and ethical considerations of training equipment and techniques for the species' and canines' physical and mental capabilities.

  3. How training will impact on canine welfare and how to analyse whether it is in the best interests of the canine involved.

  4. How to assess when training might not be appropriate.

 

Canine Learning and Training
  1. The process of establishing measurable goals and objectives for the training of canines.

  2. How to formulate training plans based on the objectives agreed between the Canine Training Instructor and owner/handler and available resources.

  3. The factors which may affect the progress and success of training.

  4. Learning theory including operant conditioning, its use, effects, and practical application, including the differences between positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment.

  5. The practical effects and consequences of classical conditioning on canine learning and behaviour.

  6. Schedules of reinforcement and how they can be used to establish and maintain desired behaviour.

  7. The need to guard against unintentional classical and operant conditioning creating undesirable behaviour.

  8. How behaviour can be extinguished by the removal of reinforcement and the principle of spontaneous recovery.

  9. The importance of reviewing and revising a training plan to meet the objectives

 

Canine Husbandry, Management and Welfare Legislation
  1. Your responsibility and accountability for duty of care of canines under the current canine welfare legislation.

  2. Health and safety policy and how to carry out a risk assessment related to the training environment.

  3. The importance of establishing and maintaining training records.

  4. Employment law, health, and safety legislation and the UK-GDPR (United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation); and their implication for the Canine Training Instructor, their clients, and others.

 

Communication and Instruction
  1. What motivates owners/handlers generally and individually.

  2. How to adapt exercises to the physical limitations/constraints of the owner/handler.

  3. How to identify people's needs for information and knowledge and their motivations for acquiring it.

  4. How to establish people’s preferred communication media, styles, timing, and pace.

  5. The importance of checking the currency, accuracy and completeness of the information and knowledge you are communicating, and how to do so.

  6. How to take action to minimise any interference or disruption to your communication.

  7. The importance of structuring your communication in ways that facilitate people's reception and understanding, and how to do so.

  8. Techniques to gain and maintain people's attention and interest and to help them retain information and knowledge, and how to use a variety of relevant techniques.

  9. The importance of using verbal and non-verbal feedback to help you fine-tune your communication, and how to do so.

  10. The importance of communicating the level of confidence that can be placed on the information and knowledge, i.e., whether it is based on rigorously researched evidence, widely accepted facts, or personal opinion.

  11. The importance of carefully explaining jargon, technical terms, or abbreviations to avoid any confusion as to their meaning.

  12. The importance of confirming that people have received and understood the information and knowledge you have communicated, and how to do so.

 

Performance Criteria. You must be able to:

  1. Assess how the needs of canines (as defined in current canine welfare legislation) may be provided for whilst under your duty of care.

  2. Comply with current canine welfare legislation and professional responsibilities at all times.

  3. Approach all interactions with the canines in a manner that reinforces desirable behavioural patterns and avoids creating undesirable behavioural patterns.

  4. Communicate effectively with others.

  5. Undertake risk assessments in line with current health and safety legislation.

  6. Create and implement a training plan with realistic targets for a desired behaviour based upon the principles of learning and the intended outcomes of the training.

  7. Evaluate and select appropriate methods and equipment to achieve the desired outcome.

  8. Assess the potential welfare consequences of the training method and chosen equipment.

  9. Obtain and interpret relevant information from the appropriate sources:

 

  • life history

  • physical capabilities

  • age

  • health

  • diet

  • sexual status

  • training history

  • temperament/characteristics

  • breed and parentage

  • desired appearance

  • medical history

  • motivational drivers and effects

 

  1. Prepare the canine, resources, and environment for the training session to aid the achievement of agreed learning outcomes.

  2. Interact and apply humane training techniques, based on sound learning theory, with the canine in a manner that minimises stress and allows training to be carried out safely.

  3. Demonstrate the ability to train a canine to do the exercises appropriate to the level of the class*/discipline of the class/duties, in a number of different ways, taking into account the canine 's, species, breed, type and physical capabilities.

  4. Assess the progress of the training session against the plan at regular intervals and take action to resolve situations where training activities, methods or resources are found to be inappropriate.

  5. Modify the training plan as needed to take into account the response of the canine and owner/handler to the training so far.

  6. Ensure records of the canine 's progress are maintained.

  7. Teach an owner/handler to train a canine to do the exercises appropriate to the level of the class*/discipline of the class/duties.

  8. Recognise own limitations and seek qualified professional advice as necessary.

  9. Recognise stress/distress in an owner/handler and know ways of reducing it.

  10. Recognise when a class situation is not the best option for a canine and be able to suggest more appropriate methods for the owner/handler to learn.

  11. Identify the information and knowledge people need and why they need it.

  12. Identify how people prefer to receive information and knowledge and what media, styles, timing, and pace are most appropriate for communicating with them.

  13. Check that the information and knowledge you are communicating is current, accurate and complete.

  14. Take action to minimise any interference or disruption to your communication.

  15. Communicate clearly, concisely, accurately in ways that help people to understand the information and knowledge you are communicating and its relevance to them.

  16. Use a variety of techniques to gain and maintain people's attention and interest and to help them retain information and knowledge.

  17. Adjust and fine-tune your communication in response to both verbal and non-verbal feedback.

  18. State the level of confidence that can be placed on the information and knowledge you are communicating, i.e., whether it is based on rigorously researched evidence, widely accepted facts, or personal opinion.

  19. Jargon, technical terms, or abbreviations should be kept to a minimum, but where they need to be used, they should be explained carefully to avoid any confusion as to their meaning.

  20. Confirm that people have received and understood the information and knowledge you have communicated.

  21. Comply with, and ensure others comply with, legal requirements, industry regulations, organisational policies, and professional codes.

 

Class – in this context 'class' means a person or persons with the canines they are responsible for. This can take place in any venue (e.g., home, hall, equestrian centre, outside venue at which such activities are allowed and required or requested).


 

ABTC Standard - Canine Behaviour Technician

 

Overview

At level 5, the canine professional will have reached the following knowledge and application of knowledge standards. 

 

They will have the practical, theoretical or technical knowledge and understanding of a subject or field of work to find ways forward in broadly defined, complex contexts. Can analyse, interpret and evaluate relevant information, concepts and ideas. The professional will understand different perspectives, approaches or schools of thought and their reasoning. They will be able to determine, adapt and use appropriate methods and cognitive and practical skills to address broadly-defined, complex problems While using relevant research or development to inform actions with accurate referencing of that research. The level 5 canine professional will also be able to evaluate actions, methods and results fully.

 

As a NICE and ABTC standard, Level 5 relates to developing programmes to provide preventative and first-aid behavioural advice to owners/handlers and co-professionals based on best practice and scientific evidence. This Standard includes the skills and competencies required to effectively communicate any guidance necessary to owners/handlers and co-professionals to improve animal welfare. This Standard also consists of implementing behaviour modification and environmental modification plans developed by a Clinical Animal Behaviourist or Veterinary Behaviourist following the assessment/evaluation of an animal by that same CAB or VB.

 

Under the NICE and ABTC Code of Professional Conduct, practitioners must work within this Standard and their professional competence. Practitioners should be familiar with the Standard for their role and that of all other NICE and ABTC roles to understand the differences between the parts and refer accordingly. All cases that are or develop beyond the scope of this Standard should be directed responsibly.

Knowledge and Understanding - This Standard is at Level 5, you need to know and understand:

Canine Behaviour
  1. The ethology of vertebrate canines, including perceptual abilities, maintenance and social behaviours and communication, their function and their motivational basis in the most commonly kept domestic species.

  2. How to recognise, evaluate and report on the behavioural states of the most commonly kept domestic canines and those that most commonly contribute to the caseload of a Clinical Canine Behaviourist, to include signals indicative of ill health as well as key behavioural states such as fear, nervousness, aggression, frustration, threat-reduction, play and relaxation.

  3. Behavioural ontogeny; to include sensitive periods, socialisation and attachment theory.

  4. The interaction between biological and evolutionary influences and the environment in which a canine is kept, and their roles in the development of behavioural disorders for a range of the most commonly kept domestic canines.

 

Canine Health and Welfare
  1. The key ethological, psychological and physiological concepts that underpin canine welfare.

  2. Welfare considerations in the management and training of canines.

 

Canine Learning and Training
  1. The theory of canine learning to include habituation, sensitisation, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, insight and social learning, canine cognition and the concept of consciousness.

  2. The theory underlying learned problem behaviour and training techniques.

  3. The principles and rationale behind the use of the range of training, preventative and behavioural modification techniques, to include systematic desensitisation, counter- conditioning and the use of clickers or other markers/conditioned reinforcers.

  4. The techniques most appropriate for the prevention and/or modification of problematic behaviour, the rationale for their use/application, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

  5. The theory underpinning strategies and techniques for the implementation of preventative behavioural interventions, in both young and adult canines.

The Interaction between Health and Behaviour

  1. The functional anatomy and physiology of the vertebrate nervous and endocrine systems and their role in mediating behaviour.

  2. The signs of ill-health and common conditions influencing behaviour and associated veterinary terminology.

  3. The behavioural consequences of medical disorders.

  4. Psychopharmacology and the mode of action of the major classes of drugs used in clinical canine behaviour.

  5. Commonly used complementary and alternative or non-prescription or prescribed therapies or products and their claimed/potential benefits.

 

Clinical Procedures
  1. The general understanding of the range of common behavioural disorders in canines.

  2. The appropriate application of the principles of ethology and learning theory to the prevention and/or modification of problematic behaviour.

  3. The delivery of appropriately structured programmes for the prevention and/or modification of problematic behaviour that are likely to be effective for target behaviours identified.

  4. The range of effective communication skills, both in the collection of relevant information and provision of advice in face to face or remote communication via telephone, email, letters and reports with clients and relevant professionals, and how to assess and resolve issues relating to client understanding.

  5. Relevant techniques and approaches for the recording of progress of a canine through a training plan and the reporting of progress to owners/handlers and relevant professionals.

  6. The interactions appropriate in professional relationships and how to apply these in practice.

  7. The common professional, ethical or other issues that need to be considered in canine care settings and the action that is appropriate to address these, including an appreciation of the value of referral.

  8. How to identify situations where further action may be necessary, including ways in which compliance with an extended programme for the prevention and/or modification of problematic behaviour may be encouraged.

  9. UK and other relevant legislation that relates to the ownership and use of canines and the role and duties of the Canine Behaviour Technician, Clinical Canine Behaviourist, Veterinary Surgeon, paraprofessionals, owners/handlers and others within it; to include the legal implications and duties associated with the provision of advice and professional liability and client confidentiality.

  10. Employment law, health and safety legislation and the UK-GDPR (United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation); and their implication for the Canine Behaviour Technician, their clients and others.

 

Performance Criteria - You must be able to:

  1. Evaluate the needs of a range of dog breeds and how these may be provided for whilst under your duty of care.

  2. Identify the appropriate canine health and welfare legislation, associated codes of practice and other legislation relevant to the canines being worked with and take any action necessary to ensure these are followed.

  3. Undertake risk assessments in line with current health and safety legislation.

  4. Identify and act in ways that best ensures the well-being of the canine, protecting and promoting welfare both within the short and long term.

  5. Gather evidence about the behaviour of the canine from all sources identified as likely to provide relevant information. This could include direct observation, reviewing the case history/notes, discussion with owner/handler and other relevant professionals. Evaluate the quality of this evidence and act appropriately to remedy any areas of concern or deficiency in it.

  6. For the prevention of problematic behaviour and/or first aid behavioural advice, evaluate the effect of physical factors on the canine 's behaviour including species, breed, parentage, sex, age, medical conditions, physiological status, developmental history and identify those most relevant to the areas of concern identified.

  7. For the prevention of problematic behaviour and/or first aid behavioural advice, evaluate the impact of external factors on the behaviour of the canine and areas of concern identified, to include: immediate surroundings, wider environment, environmental pressures, ethological requirements and previous experiences.

  8. For the prevention of problematic behaviour and/or first aid behavioural advice, evaluate the impact of husbandry/management practices on the behaviour of the canine and areas of concern identified, including: presence/absence of environmental enrichment, social contact, physical activity, interactions and relationship with owner/handler and other humans, diet.

  9. Evaluate issues concerning the safety, efficacy and reliability of complementary and alternative or non-prescription or prescribed therapies or products.

  10. Demonstrate skill and competency in the selection and use of a wide range of preventative and first aid behaviour techniques and training aids. Be able to teach owners/handlers how to apply these techniques and training aids to ensure their effective use, protect against their misuse, and ensure owners/handlers protect the welfare of the canine.

  11. Apply the principles of canine learning theory to humane training methods to achieve agreed goals.

  12. Demonstrate the ability to train a canine to do the exercises appropriate to the canine species, context and desired behaviour, in a number of different ways, taking into account the canine 's species, breed, type and physical capabilities.

  13. Justify why a particular preventative or first aid behavioural programme/approach has been selected instead of any other possible regimes.

  14. Devise and implement a structured programme for the prevention of problematic behaviour and/or first aid behavioural advice that identifies and sets realistic goals and time scales for monitoring of its progress and assessment of its success. Implement a structured behaviour modification plan devised by a Clinical Canine Behaviourist or Veterinary Behaviourist, identifying and setting realistic goals and time scales for monitoring of its progress and assessment of its success.

  15. Discuss and agree a programme for the prevention of problematic behaviour, and/or first aid behavioural advice with the owner/handler and others involved with the canine. Rectify areas of misunderstanding, confusion or concern where appropriate, and obtain their informed consent.

  16. Ensure the owner/handler understands their role in the delivery of an effective programme and the importance of maintaining the desired change to behaviour once it is achieved.

  17. Identify and liaise with other professionals and organisations involved in the care of the canine to ensure a consistent and appropriate approach that both promotes canine welfare and is legally compliant.

  18. Identify any professional, ethical or other issues that have arisen when working with the canine, owner/handler or other individual and take appropriate action to address these.

  19. Explain to the owner/handler of the canine, through written guidelines or other appropriate system of feedback the areas of concern regarding their canine that have been identified, their possible causes and the rationale behind the approach selected to remedy these and any other associated issues that have been identified.

  20. Evaluate the effectiveness of the programme through appropriate follow-ups which may include direct observation of the canine and/or liaison with the owner/handler and others involved with the canine. As appropriate, revise the programme in response to this feedback to ensure its effectiveness and success. Where the programme was devised by a Clinical Canine Behaviourist or Veterinary Behaviourist this must be done in discussion with them.

  21. Maintain required records on each canine so that it is possible to critically reflect on the appropriateness and success of different approaches; identify any improvements to practice that could be made.

  22. Maintain a high level of professional conduct including an awareness of own limitations and refer cases when appropriate.

  23. Identify gaps in own knowledge and understanding; and plan, record and evaluate a personal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme to address these.

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