For many years it has been a major concern of dog trainers that general animal behaviourists have considered themselves experts in all matters concerning animals of all species. This is of course impossible due to the enormity of variations within the specific genre of mammals, let alone reptiles and avian, for example. Since 2008 the Government, under the auspices of LANTRA sought to introduce National Occupational Standards for dog behaviourists and trainers. Several leading authorities in the field have made major contributions to ensure that the UK’s foremost experts were consulted and the Guild of Dog Trainers (GODT), being the country’s premier dog training organisation in the field rallied to ensure a bright future for all members.
The significance of being able to call upon the UK’s leading expert dog trainers cannot be overstated. The dedication of the Chairman and officers of the GODT has ensured that the future occupations of those with exemplary qualifications, as well as practical skills, will be recognised as professionally competent to provide vitally important services to dog owners and commercial organisations within the UK.
The Government, through LANTRA – the UK’s Sector Skills Council for land-
The establishment of National Occupational Standards for dog behaviourists and trainers elevates the status of those professionals or dedicated enthusiasts working with dogs to a level commensurate with general animal behaviourists and those engaged within the equine industry. It is a significant step forward for professional bodies, particularly veterinarians, who are required to appoint professionally qualified dog trainers to deal with difficult cases. They can be assured that when appointing a member of the GODT, who would meet the requirements of the National Occupational Standards, that they will be dealing with an expert who specialises with dogs.
County Councils and other local authorities, as well as all dog charities, are now able to use the National Occupational Standards when an expert to assess dogs’ temperament and behaviour is required. In addition, they can expect an applicant seeking employment to have demonstrated the competence to achieve the standards set and will have the level of expertise to undertake the appointment. In effect, these National Occupational Standards will set dog behaviourists and trainers apart from the general practitioners known as “animal behaviourists” whose breadth of knowledge across the range of animal species precludes them from the intimate relationship enjoyed by those dedicated solely to the canine genre.
The membership of the GODT responded to the opportunity offered by LANTRA to comment upon the draft proposals through the various stages and the officers of the GODT, under the Chairmanship of Sue Williams, ensured that the voice of the membership was heard during meetings with Government officials. It has resulted in members being able to feel confident that their profession will be protected in the future and that dogs in general will reap the benefit of this major project.