The Pet Professional Guild

The Association for Force-Free Pet Professionals

Representing Pet Trainers, Pet Behavior Consultants, Pet Care Service Providers & Veterinarians Across the Globe 

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The Pet Professional Guild Position Statements & Open Letters

The Pet Professional Guild Issues an Open Letter to Veterinarians on Referrals to Training and Behavior Professionals

There are numerous professional organizations that offer membership and credentials in the field of animal training and behavior. Few, however, hold their members to a strict code of conduct which involves the application of their trade through scientific protocols and the objective to cause no harm.

Unfortunately, the pet training industry is entirely unregulated, meaning that anyone can say they are a trainer or behavior consultant. As a result, those who call themselves dog trainers, or even “dog whisperers,” may still be utilizing punitive methods, such as disc throwing, loud correctional “no’s” and, in some cases, more extreme tools such as shock collars, choke chains and prong collars. All of these are, sadly, still at large. They are training tools that, by design, have one purpose: to reduce or stop behavior through pain and fear. This, as opposed to a constructional approach where operant behaviors are built, and problematic emotional reactions are changed via positive reinforcement and counter conditioning protocols.

Humane, modern animal training relies on science-based protocols: “Within the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA), there is a 40-year-old standard that promotes the most positive, least intrusive behavior reduction procedures (also known as the Least Restrictive Behavior Intervention, LRBI).” (Friedman, 2010). Regardless, there are trainers who elect not to move into this arena, and/or gain informed consent from clients regarding methods and equipment used. They may still be members of professional institutes, associations and councils because many organizations do not hold their members accountable for the training methods they use. Consequently, it is easy to be fooled when searching for a training or behavior professional.


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The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Equipment Used for the Management, Training and Care of Pets

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) believes pets have an intrinsic right to be treated humanely, to have each of their individual needs met, and to live in safe, enriched environments free from force, pain and fear. PPG holds that effective training and care procedures form the foundation for a pet's healthy socialization, and help prevent behavior problems. As such, the general pet-owning public needs to be educated by competent and qualified specialist organizations and associations to ensure their pets live in nurturing and stable environments, and that only non-aversive training and pet care equipment is used. In this cyber-driven world, where information may not always be accurate or scientifically sound, PPG provides a platform for promoting said education, resources, equipment, ideas, methods and techniques that owners and pet professionals can trust to reflect its force-free philosophy. 

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The Use of Shock in Animal Training

It is the position of the Pet Professional Guild that effective animal training procedures lay the foundation for an animal’s healthy socialization and training and helps prevent behavior problems. The general pet-owning public should be educated by organizations and associations to ensure pet animals live in nurturing and stable environments to better prevent behavior problems. In this effort, it is the position of the PPG that the use of electrical stimulation, or “shock” or “e-collars,” to train and/or modify the behavior of pet animals is not necessary for effective behavior modification or training and damaging to the animal. For the purposes of this statement, electrical stimulation devices include products often referred to as: e-collars, training collars, e-touch, stimulation, tingle, TENS unit collar, remote trainers.

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The Use of Dominance Theory in Animal Training

It is the position of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) that dominance theory is an obsolete and aversive method of interacting with animals that has at its foundation incorrect and misinterpreted data which can result in damage to the animal-human relationship and cause behavioral problems in the animal. Rather, the PPG advocates for effective animal training procedures focused on the use of behaviorism, the natural science of behavior which emphasizes natural science assumptions and avoids speculation and theoretical constructs for explaining behavior.

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Position Statement on Puppy Socialization

It is the position of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) that effective animal training lays the foundation for an animal’s healthy socialization and training and helps prevent behavior problems. The general pet-owning public should be educated by organizations and associations to ensure pet animals live in nurturing and stable environments to better prevent behavior problems. Consistent with this effort, it is the position of the PPG that proper puppy socialization be addressed as vital to a dog’s development with an ideal socialization period starting at four weeks of age and continuing through four months of age.

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Position Statement on The Use of Choke and Prong Collars

Though data demonstrating the exact damage that can be potentially caused by using choke and prong collars is incomplete, experience has shown that soft tissue injuries are common and, as is the case with any harsh training method, the damage to the animal-human relationship results. Studies and the experience of the PPG’s membership finds that training and behavior problems are consistently and effectively solved without the use of choke or prong collars with the alternative methods reinforcing the animal-human bond.

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Position Statement on Reality TV Dog Training

The Pet Professional Guild appeals to all programming organizations to re-evaluate any decision to showcase forceful, painful and aversive training methods and equipment.  Despite warnings on the television for viewers not to attempt the methods displayed at home, such methods will be attempted by pet owners and may lead to extremely dangerous situations. The Pet Professional Guild respectfully requests television channels to replace this programming immediately with competent, progressive and force-free, formally-educated trainers and/or behaviorists.

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Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of dogs being seized or banned in a variety of communities worldwide based purely on their breed or appearance, allegedly in the interest of public safety. At the same time, there is little, if any, assessment of an individual dog’s behavior or environment, their owners’ knowledge of canine behavior and training, and/or their suitability as a dog guardian.

PPG holds that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) such as this paints an unjust picture of certain breeds of dogs and punishes responsible dog guardians unnecessarily. PPG considers BSL to be ineffective in dog bite prevention and the safety of the public at large, and opposes any law or regulation that discriminates against dogs based purely on breed or appearance. Rather than approach the issues of dog bite prevention and public safety via such unsatisfactory means, PPG is of the opinion that educating pet industry professionals, pet dog guardians, and the general public in canine cognition, communication, and the use of science-based, force-free pet care and training methods are by far the most effective means of reducing dog bites and ensuring greater public safety.

PPG recognizes that any size or type of dog can bite. Breed, however, is not a good predictor. A study by Patronek, Sacks, Delise, Cleary, and Marder (2013) concluded that: “Most DBRFs [dog bite-related fatalities] were characterized by coincident, preventable factors; breed was not one of these. Study results supported previous recommendations for multifactorial approaches, instead of single-factor solutions such as breed-specific legislation, for dog bite prevention.”

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