June 14, 2015

Q: I have been recommended to contact some professional help for my dog but I have no idea where to start! Help! 

Kate answers:

"The dog training industry is currently unregulated.

This means that anyone can set up as a dog trainer or behaviourist with no qualifications. The advice you receive from trainers/behaviourists who do not belong to an approved association may do no harm to your dog or may indeed make the problem worse if giving inappropriate advice.

Many leading trainers and behaviourists are moving away from the pack leadership/dominance school of thought since the research and observations that was carried out into captive wolves has been acknowledged as an inaccurate representation of behaviour seen in wolves in the wild.

Most behaviourists will now steer you away from this towards more positive training methods. Application of dominance and pack leader principles may actually make behaviour problems worse. You can read more about the stance of the Pet Professional Guild in relation to dominance here.

There are, however, moves afoot to set industry standards and the Animal Behaviour & Training Council is forming a register of professionals. You need to be a member of one of their approved associations to join the register - their website has a list of Registered Practitioners here. This is a very good place to start when looking for a qualified behaviourist. The 

The UK Register of Canine Behaviourists and the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors also have lists of members. The Pet Professional Guild and Association of PET Dog Trainers are other good places to look. Note that there is

Note that there is a different between behaviour and training advice although the two may overlap. Behaviourists will always advise a vet check-up and take a full history to establish the root cause of a problem before offering tailored behaviour modification."