Great Debate: Should training people to work with dogs include some form of regulation?

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As the demand for professional dog trainers continues to rise in the UK, the industry faces a critical question: should training people to work with dogs include some form of regulation? Is it time to establish minimum standards for this profession?

Currently, anyone can advertise themselves as a dog trainer, as no specific qualifications or standards are required. This lack of oversight raises several concerns. Some think that this should be stopped, and that accredited programmes and standards should be introduced to ensure that all dog trainers meet certain competency levels.

Without regulation, they argue, there’s a risk that individuals who are adept at marketing themselves on social media but lack genuine expertise could dominate the field – potentially leading to subpar training practices and even harm to dogs and their owners.

However, there are also arguments against implementing such changes. Critics argue that regulation could stifle innovation and diversity in training methods. The current system allows for a variety of approaches, catering to the different needs of dogs and their owners. There is also concern that increased regulation could lead to higher costs for trainers, which might be passed on to clients, making professional dog training less accessible.

Additionally, some believe that market competition naturally weeds out incompetent trainers, as word-of-mouth and reviews help owners find qualified professionals.

What do you think – should training people to work with dogs include some form of regulation?

Tell us what you think here, or write to editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk with “Great Debate” in the subject line.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I am a professional trainer in the United States and my answer is an unqualified YES – our profession needs to be regulated. There is far too much at stake to leave dog training to a “buyer beware” approach. There is an appalling amount of animal abuse in our industry – dogs die, people get injured… and all too often by the time someone realizes the “trainer” they’ve hired isn’t competent, irreparable damage has been done to the dog, and to the dog-human relationship. Regulation doesn’t stifle creativity; regulation fosters competence, and protects consumers and their beloved animal companions.

  2. When choosing a trainer owners should always check out their own dogs Ist. If a trainer can train to any standard it will reflect in their own dogs. This country is becoming too regulated and there are already a number of organisations who offer training for the trainers including the British Kennel Club. Training dogs is not an exact science and never will be. It should remain self regulated and let the owners who pay for it decide on who is worthy of it.

  3. Which allows the likes of the “Master Dog trainer”to join an organisation after becoming a dog owner a couple of months earlier, a few attendances at an IGP club & immediately become “THE master dog trainer”& allegedly has trained 4000+ dogs in 15 years(works out at around 1 dog per day).
    Having worked for over 40 years with abused & shutdown rescue dogs, I know that is not possible even with pets living in decent situations. You cannot solve a dog’s behavioural issues in 24 hours.
    I don’t think pure theory based qualifications are the answer either, but a good understanding of canine behaviour is needed.
    Not sure about your referral to the”British”Kennel Club, there’s no such organisation. The UK Kennel Club does have some behavioural courses, but, of course, like most of these schemes involves a degree of one size fits all theories & methods.
    It’s down,IMHO,,to educating the public as to what is or isn’t force free.

  4. Yes I think there needs to be minimum standards for training dogs. However there are three avenues involved; 1 is training the actual dog, 2 is teaching people to train dogs and 3 is teaching people to teach others to train dogs. Someone can be good at training their own dogs but not so brilliant at training other people’s dogs or teaching other people how to train their dog. In any of the cases if the person does not understand how each individual dog is learning they can cause mental, physical and behavioural damage either at the time or that can surface later in the dog’s life.
    Seeing some advertised dog trainers offer puppy classes when they have limited knowledge worries me as it is at this level that damage does occur if a trainer does not understand an individual puppy’s development process.
    I don’t think regulating dog trainers would stifle innovation or diversity; regulation hasn’t done this to other professions. Regulating dog trainers would give the profession the kudos that it needs to be seen as important and professional.

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