The importance of using a qualified trainer or behaviourist

It has recently been brought to my attention that there are some people claiming to be qualified behaviourists and trainers without having the appropriate qualifications to back these claims up. I want to make both my customers, and others out there aware of the importance of making sure the pet professional you are using is both qualified and insured. 


So, what’s the difference between a trainer and behaviourist? A dog trainer has experience in training methods and how dogs relate to learning. On the other hand, a behaviourist has in depth knowledge of a dogs mind and using psychology and physiology are able to provide behaviour modification plans.  


Although there is no set qualification level for trainers (I am trained to level 4), In the UK to be a certified animal/canine behaviourist you must be educated to degree level (Level 6) or higher in order to be able to offer the right care and advice for animals. I am currently studying my level 5-6 qualifications so I can soon become accredited for this role.

Behaviourists regularly work with vets on referrals, to make sure the dog is assessed medically before being analysed by a behaviourist. If a ‘behaviourist’ does not ask if your dog has been evaluated by a veterinary professional, then this is a BIG red flag! Many dog diseases and illnesses can cause changes in behaviour and therefore, these need to be ruled out before beginning a behaviour modification plan with a behaviourist. If you are seeking help for your pet, don’t be afraid to ask for proof of past experience, insurance or qualifications as any certified professional should be happy to provide this without hesitation.

If you are seeking help for your dogs training or behaviour, it is important that you know the professional is qualified to the appropriate standard. If they are not, they could be offering you advice and support that is not scientifically backed and could end up damaging your dog in the long run. More so, if they are not qualified the likelihood is that their insurance will not be valid and therefore you would not be able to make any claims in the event of an accident or injury to yourself or your pet. 


If you are looking for a trainer or behaviourist the following websites below are accredited and registered databases of qualified professionals that have been assessed and verified for their job role: 


  • International Companion Animal Network (ICAN)
  • The Pet Professional Guild (PPG)
  • Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT)
  • Association of Pet Behaviour Councillors (APBC)
  • Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC)
  • UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter Group


Making sure the person you are planning on using is registered on one of the above websites, ensures you are getting the best care for your furry friends!