What is the AnimalKind accreditation program?
AnimalKind is the BC SPCA’s animal welfare accreditation and referral program for companies that provide animal-related services. Our goal is to create a community of animal-related companies who use science-based practices and share animal welfare values.
Currently the BC SPCA accredits dog training companies and pest control companies. The BC SPCA audits AnimalKind member companies to confirm they are following our science-based, animal-friendly standards. We and our community partners can then confidently refer the public to accredited companies.
Why were AnimalKind dog training standards developed?
Each year, the BC SPCA gets hundreds of calls from dog owners seeking guidance on how to find a good trainer who can help them build a relationship with their dog or address their dog’s problem behaviour. The BC SPCA saw the need to identify and recommend good dog trainers to the public and our adopters.
There are many schools, certifications and designations for dog training and it is hard to know what they all mean. Science has shown that reward-based training methods are more effective and better for dogs than methods that cause pain or fear, yet these harmful methods continue to be used. The BC SPCA AnimalKind program will help more dogs by connecting dog adopters and guardians with trainers who use humane methods.
How does the BC SPCA know that AnimalKind dog training companies are following the standards?
Each year the BC SPCA audits AnimalKind companies using our robust, certified auditing processes. Dog training auditors observe training facilities and equipment, review business records, speak to trainers and observe dog training classes. Customers and the public are also encouraged to provide feedback on AnimalKind companies through our email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How were AnimalKind dog training standards developed?
Standards for dog training (PDF) were developed after a thorough review of scientific research (PDF), with feedback from international animal behaviour and dog training experts, and in-person consultations with 36 dog trainers from BC. Development also included a public comment period which gathered additional feedback from dog trainers, community veterinarians, animal behaviour associations, kennel clubs, service dog organizations and other humane organizations. AnimalKind standards also reflect the animal welfare values of the BC SPCA as outlined in the position statement on Animal Training.
Does the BC SPCA follow AnimalKind standards in their own branches?
The BC SPCA follows AnimalKind dog training standards (PDF) and uses only reward-based training methods for dogs in our care. BC SPCA staff members oversee volunteers who walk dogs or carry out behavioural modification activities to ensure they follow BC SPCA policies.
Do AnimalKind dog training standards ever allow aversive training methods to be used?
Science has shown that reward-based training methods are more effective and better for dogs than methods that cause pain or fear. AnimalKind standards require dog trainers to use positive, reward-based training methods. Aversive methods are not permitted.
Are head collars considered an aversive training tool by AnimalKind standards?
No, not if used properly. Head collars can be aversive to some dogs, but this can often be prevented with proper fitting and careful introduction of the tool. Trainers can help prevent or change a negative reaction to head collars by using positive reinforcement, desensitization and counterconditioning methods to build a positive association with the head collar.
Can spray bottles be used to distract dogs or to de-escalate aggressive behaviour?
Use of spray bottles to intervene in an emergency situation is acceptable (i.e. to break up a dog fight, to stop a dog from doing something that might injure themselves). However, spray bottles should not be used as a primary training method or a substitute for dog management practices that focus on preventing unwanted behaviours.
Can reactive dogs be trained using positive-only training methods?
Yes! Reactive dogs respond well to positive-reinforcement training when it is done correctly and under the guidance of a skilled dog trainer. The easiest way to help your reactive dog is to find an AnimalKind accredited trainer to work with.
A skilled trainer will determine the reason behind your dog’s reactive behaviours (might be fearful, frustrated, or the behaviour might just be a habit). Once the reason is known, the trainer will design an appropriate training plan that will help you teach your dog new behaviours to replace reactive ones. Most importantly, a good trainer will never use fear or pain to train your reactive dog – instead they’ll use reward-based methods to motivate and make training fun for your dog.
Can AnimalKind trainers sell pet food or treats?
AnimalKind accredited dog training businesses may sell and promote food products for dogs (including raw animal protein food products). However, AnimalKind trainers may not make therapeutic nutritional recommendations to dog owners as these should only be made by veterinarians. The BC SPCA discourages the feeding of raw food as the whole diet to dogs due to veterinary and public health concerns associated with these diets.
Can AnimalKind trainers offer anaesthesia-free dental services?
AnimalKind accredited dog training businesses may not sell or promote non-professional dental scaling services (also known as “anaesthesia-free dentals”, “cosmetic cleaning of the visible portion of a dog’s teeth”, and “above the gum line dental care”).
The BC SPCA recommends that guardians obtain advice on their dogs’ dental health from a veterinarian. The BC SPCA does not condone the provision of dental services by non-veterinarians due to the potential to induce high levels of stress and fear from animal handling and restraint practices and the health risk to dogs from undiagnosed dental disease.
Can BC SPCA staff members become accredited by AnimalKind?
AnimalKind is a voluntary accreditation program for businesses and organizations that provide dog training services. If BC SPCA staff members operate training businesses in addition to their employment at the BC SPCA, their business is eligible to apply for accreditation. The BC SPCA follows AnimalKind dog training standards (PDF) and uses only reward-based training methods for dogs in our care.
What happens if a complaint is made against an accredited company?
Customers and the public can make complaints about AnimalKind companies by calling the BC SPCA Call Centre at (1-855-622-7722) or by emailing email@example.com.
When a complaint is made, the BC SPCA will gather information from the complainant. If the complaint could possibly be an incident of animal cruelty, then the information will be forwarded to the Cruelty Investigations Department. If otherwise, then AnimalKind staff will investigate the complaint as a compliance issue and the affected company will be contacted. All information related to the complaint is the reviewed by the BC SPCA Social Enterprise Management group who decide the appropriate action. The full complaints process is outlined in the AnimalKind Operations Manual (PDF).
How is AnimalKind funded?
Through a partnership with the UBC Animal Welfare Program, the development of AnimalKind was made possible by grant support from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Grants from the Vancouver Foundation have also supported the development and operations of AnimalKind since 2016, matched by BC SPCA support. AnimalKind member companies also help to fund AnimalKind operations with their membership fees – we thank them for their commitment to animal-friendly practices!
When will AnimalKind accredited dog daycares and kennels be available?
We are currently developing science-based standards for dog daycares and kennels and will be consulting with experts and operators in the dog-boarding industry in mid-2019.