Dog owners in B.C. will now have more peace of mind when seeking someone to train their pooch. 

AnimalKind is a new accreditation program that will show dog owners which trainers in the province are meeting internationally-recognized standards, ensuring the humane treatment of dogs. 

The dog training industry in B.C. is unregulated, so anyone can claim to be a professional dog trainer who's using humane techniques. Until now, there has been no way for the BC SPCA to assess trainers on a standardized scale and make informed referrals for dog owners or adopters.

“Each year, the BC SPCA gets hundreds of calls from dog owners seeking guidance on how to find a good trainer,” says Sara Dubois, chief scientific officer for the BC SPCA.

“With our new accreditation program, we can confidently recommend AnimalKind companies that have been audited by the BC SPCA, knowing they are committed to using positive and effective training methods.”

There are six AnimalKind-accredited companies already, including three on Vancouver Island: Cowichan Canine Behaviour & Training (Duncan), Positive Dog (Nanaimo) and Ethical Canine Training & Behaviour Modification (Victoria). 

Allison Schaefer, owner and trainer with Ethical Canine Training & Behaviour Modification, says she’s happy to see a progression towards more modern and humane training.

”As the industry is unregulated, it can be a challenge for the public to decide who they should hire to help with their dogs, and these decisions can have lasting impacts on their lives, their families' lives, and their dogs' lives,” she says.  Schaefer appreciates that programs like this provide transparency and accountability, which can only benefit dog owners.

The new AnimalKind standards allow only reward-based, positive reinforcement training and do not include any aversive methods that use punishment, confrontation, intimidation or have the potential to cause physical or psychological harm to the animal. 

According to the BC SPCA, there are many schools, certifications and designations for dog training, and their standards and selection process vary widely.

This can be very confusing for members of the public to navigate, but Dubois notes the goal of AnimalKind is “to create a community of animal-related businesses that are committed to using science-based, humane standards, and to help consumers find companies who support good animal welfare.”