Animal Behaviour and Training Council FAQ
Promoting Excellence in Animal Behaviour and Training
Why has the council been launched?
The council has been launched to co-ordinate the much needed regulation of those engaged in the behaviour modification and training of animals.
What does it hope to achieve?
The Council has a number of purposes, details of which can be found on the website www.abtcouncil.org.uk. At the moment, anyone can call themselves a trainer or behaviour expert regardless of their training or experience. This can lead to poor practice risking animal welfare and the safety of those who implement the advice. The Council aims to set standards for the knowledge and skills required to be a recognised, accredited or certified professional. The Council is the only animal welfare charity that is primarily concerned with protecting the psychological welfare of animals undergoing training and behaviour activities.
What are the Council’s charitable aims?
The Animal Behaviour Training Council serves the following two charitable aims:
- To promote humane practice in the training and behaviour therapy of animals and;
- To lobby for improvements in animal welfare related to behaviour and training of said animals
Registered Charity Number 1164009
Why do you think there is a need for a regulatory council now?
In recent years more and more people have turned an interest in their pets into a money-making business. This has fuelled the demands for regulation. Calls for the formation of such a Council started as far back as 2004 and talks between professional bodies resulted in the formation of the Council in 2010.
Is membership to the council register voluntary? How much does it cost?
Without specific legislation, membership of the Council is voluntary. However, we believe that in many ways industry self-regulation is a better option than enforced control. Membership is only open to approved professional organisations and their trained members will appear on the Council's register.
There is a nominal fee of £220 per year to professional organisations which goes towards helping achieve the charitable aims and the running costs of the Council. More information about membership levels can be found on http://www.abtcouncil.org.uk/application-forms.html
What will that money be spent on specifically?
Any income will be used to cover overheads such as web design and website hosting, printing and insurance with future costs anticipated for the Council's own accreditation. There will be no profits for distribution and much of the work that has gone into creating the Council has been given voluntarily.
Why should people sign up to be accredited?
Individuals will now have the opportunity to show the public that they have undergone specific training and reached the professional standards required by the Council. Currently, pet owners have no indication whether their chosen trainer or behaviourist has received any kind of training or is implementing approved methods. We believe that the formation of the Council is a great step forward for animal welfare and greater clarity for the public.
Do you think dogs are being put in danger by some practicing trainers?
There are some practicing trainers and behaviourists who use methods and techniques which can cause pain and fear and may compromise welfare. These methods are not only unacceptable but unnecessary. Long term changes in behaviour can be achieved through use of reward based methods which the Council strongly advocates.
Can you prosecute trainers or behaviourists who are putting animals in danger?
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 introduced a duty of care on those responsible for animals to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of an animal are met. An animal's needs include protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Training or behaviour modification that breaches this important duty can give rise to an offence irrespective of whether or not the animal is considered to have suffered. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 also makes provision for those who subject animals to treatment which results in the animal being caused unnecessary suffering.
How does the council relate to the Dog Welfare Campaign?
The dog welfare campaign was launched to advise owners of the possible dangers of using training techniques that can cause pain and fear. This was supported by a large number of animal welfare, behaviour, training and veterinary organisations some of which are also represented on the Council. The campaign and the Council share a common goal which is to ensure that those people who train or treat behaviour problems are appropriately qualified to do so in a way which protects welfare. For more information about the Dog Welfare Campaign, check out their website - http://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/
Why does my organisation not appear on the list of members?
The initial group of organisations was drawn up from those attending the series of meetings chaired by the Companion Animal Welfare Council. These meetings were open to anyone. Currently we are only able to take applications for membership from professional organisations that represent practitioners with suitable qualifications and experience. We may be in a position to accept applications from Dog Clubs, Societies and Associations in the future and this is something to be addressed over the coming year.
What standards have been applied until now?
Until now any standards have been those decided upon by each of the many individual organisations and they range from little more than paying a membership fee to a requirement for a high level of education and a long period of supervised experience.