With access to three BC SPCA AnimalKind accredited dog training companies, residents in the valley can now benefit from more humane training options to train their dogs.
Comox Valley’s Go Dog Go! and Wild at Heart are the latest companies to receive AnimalKind accreditation. The BC SPCA created the AnimalKind program to provide information to dog guardians looking for skilled trainers who use science-based, humane training methods and recognize companies for their commitment to high animal welfare. The two companies joined K9 Kind Dog Training and Behaviour, also from the region, which received accreditation last December.
Emily Priestley, owner and trainer at Wild at Heart, recognizes the difficulties in navigating the information available. Priestley says, “Our industry is unregulated, and there is a lot of misinformation out there presented as facts. This makes it difficult and confusing for a guardian to wade through, and it can also lead to dogs being trained using aversive techniques or dominance-based training. The negative impact this has on our pet dogs is terrible, and many dogs are becoming fearful or aggressive being trained this way.”
Lynne Fedorick, owner and trainer at Go Dog Go! agrees, “Anyone could call themselves a dog trainer. A dog guardian has absolutely no way of knowing who actually has the knowledge, skill, and experience to deal with their dog’s behavioural issues or training problems.”
The BC SPCA wants to encourage dog guardians to consider their options carefully when looking for a dog trainer. Nicole Fenwick, manager, research and standards for the BC SPCA, says, “Connecting dog guardians with trainers who are committed to good welfare practices is incredibly important for improving welfare for dogs across the province. We have developed evidence-based dog training standards and a third-party auditing program that ensures we only recommend trainers who use effective, humane training methods instead of outdated techniques that cause fear and pain to dogs.”
Enhancing dog welfare is the core value of the 11 dog training companies accredited in Vancouver Island, and Go Dog Go! and Wild at Heart are no exception. Fedorick says, “I believe having dogs in our lives is a wonderful and joyous privilege. We owe it to our dogs to really be worthy of such a magnificent privilege. Great dog training enhances the bond between human and animal through kindness, compassion and communication.”
Priestley, who has experience working as a trainer and at the BC SPCA, shares the same view and highlights the responsibility of being a dog guardian. “It is important for us as guardians to always make our dogs a promise that we will seek out professionals committed to kind and force-free methods. We need to ask for accreditations and certifications even if it’s uncomfortable. We need to advocate for our dogs and refuse to hand the leash to those who will scare or hurt them. They rely on us and trust us, and finding trained professionals who are fair to your dog will make a lifetime of difference.”
The BC SPCA launched the first set of AnimalKind standards – for wildlife and rodent control companies – in 2018. Through a partnership with the UBC Animal Welfare Program, the BC SPCA, Vancouver Foundation, and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies provided funding to establish the program. The AnimalKind standards for dog training – the second set of standards developed, were launched in January 2019.
Learn more about AnimalKind accreditation, or find a trainer near you at animalkind.ca.