The BC SPCA on Thursday launched a program to help dog owners choose a humane and effective trainer.
The program, called AnimalKind, sets out reward-based training standards to ensure humane treatment for dogs and accredits B.C. dog-training businesses.
The standards allow only positive reinforcement training and oppose any methods that use punishment, confrontation, or intimidation, or have the potential to cause physical or psychological harm to the animal.
“Each year, the BC SPCA gets hundreds of calls from dog owners seeking guidance on how to find a good trainer,” said Dr. Sara Dubois, chief scientific officer for the BC SPCA.
“Many trainers say they are using humane methods, but until now, we’ve had no way to assess this or to make a referral.”
Six companies have already been accredited by AnimalKind: Bravo Dog (North Vancouver), Ocean Park Dog Training (Surrey), Yaletown Dog Training (Vancouver), Ethical Canine Training & Behaviour Modification (Victoria), Cowichan Canine Behaviour & Training (Duncan) and Positive Dog (Nanaimo).
To develop the AnimalKind standards, the BC SPCA says it reviewed scientific research and feedback from international animal behaviour and dog training experts, and conducted in-person consultations with 36 B.C. dog trainers.
The society also gathered feedback from dog trainers, community veterinarians, animal behaviour associations, kennel club service dog organizations.
Dr. Karen van Haaften, the BC SPCA’s senior manager of behaviour and welfare, said scientific research supports the use of reward-based training.
“The research also indicates that dogs trained with aversive or fear-based methods exhibited negative responses, including increased aggression and a range of stress behaviours during training, such as tensed or lowered body posture, lip licking, yawning, yelping and flattened ears,” van Haaften said.
The BC SPCA launched the first set of AnimalKind standards for pest management companies in last year.