The need for a national accreditation programme for professionals working in the field of animal training and behavioural modification in New Zealand
Skyner, LJ.; Cameron, Kristie; Dale, A.; Walker, J. K.
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Citation:Skyner, LJ., Cameron, KE., Dale, A., & Walker, JK. (2020). The Need for a National Accreditation Programme for Professionals Working in the Field of Animal Training and Behavioural Modification in New Zealand. Animals, 10 (7), 1111. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071111
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4988
SIMPLE SUMMARY: Companion animals play an important role in the lives of New Zealanders. Animals’ guardians often engage professional behaviour and training support to ensure their companion animal’s behaviour is compatible with their lifestyle and expectations. The methods these professionals use vary substantially and potentially subject animals to psychological (and physical) harm where outdated, incorrect or aversive methods of training or equipment are used. The national regulation of training methods or techniques would safeguard the welfare of the animal benefactors of these services. In the absence of such regulation, the development of a national accreditation body may act to protect animal welfare by certifying the experience, qualifications and training methods of the professionals offering these services. We investigated industry opinion and readiness for the establishment of an accreditation body via an online survey and found that accreditation, promoting the use of reward-based training and behavioural modification techniques, was generally supported. We conclude that the establishment of a national accreditation body would ensure that those seeking services source professionals who use best practice when it comes to training and behavioural modification, resulting in lasting benefits to animal welfare. ABSTRACT: Companion animals are at risk of psychological (and physical) harm if outdated, incorrect or aversive methods of training or equipment are used during training and behavioural modification. Companion animal guardians often engage professional animal behaviour and training services, yet this industry is not regulated in New Zealand. A voluntary national accreditation and registration programme could act to protect the welfare of animals by robustly evaluating the experience, qualifications and training methods of industry professionals. To investigate industry readiness for a national accreditation programme, we conducted an online survey and analysed the responses of 262 animal trainers, behavioural consultants, dog safety educators, veterinarians and veterinary nurses. A national accreditation programme, promoting the use of reward-based training and behavioural modification techniques, was generally supported, especially by individuals holding qualifications and membership of professional organisations. The implementation of such a programme would ensure that those seeking these services are able to source professionals that use best practice when it comes to training and behavioural modification, with lasting benefits to animal welfare.