Guiding Principles 


The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) was founded based on a commitment to provide educational resources to pet care providers and the public coupled with an emphasis on building collaboration among force-free pet trainers and professional pet care providers and advocates for mutually agreed guiding principles for the pet care industry. PPG partners, members and affiliates focus on each pet’s physical, mental, environmental and nutritional well-being adhering to a holistic approach to the care and training of family pets

Established at the beginning of 2012, The PPG began with the very simple goal of serving the Pet Industry and as an educational antidote to the scientifically unfounded and dangerous methods and practices popularized by entertainment TV. Niki Tudge, the founder of The Pet Professional Guild and a Dog Training and Pet Care Professional, was frustrated by the lack of comprehensive resources committed to force-free training and pet care based on current scientific learning theory.

Tudge believed the pet industry needed a source of information where pet owners and pet professionals who are committed to using force-free training and pet care methods could share ideas, exchange best practices, continue their education, collaborate on efforts and find resources that were truly force-free based. In addition, she felt that the pet-owning public needed an educational resource that would clarify the differences in training and pet care methodologies available and where a pet owner could be confident that the information, services and products offered were on the forefront of force-free training and pet care.

Finally, Tudge wanted to establish a vehicle to help further the cause and help educate local governments, pet professionals and the pet-owning community of the fundamental advantages of force-free training and pet care.With information proliferating at an astounding rate in a world where no one can seem to even agree on what ‘organic’ or ‘all natural’ means, The PPG provides a platform for promoting information, resources, equipment, ideas, methods and techniques that owners and pet professionals could trust would reflect the force-free philosophy.

Section One PPG  Non-Negotiables.

To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean:

No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.

Definition of Force 

Any definition can never be so expansive and explicit that every possible situation is  addressed. This is seen everywhere in life and most obviously in the US legal system where very often courts cannot agree on a single interpretation of what terms and definitions mean, including physical force.

Recognizing this we understand, in the context of our guiding principles and as a general framework, physical force to mean “any intentional physical act against a pet that causes psychological or physical pain, harm or damage to the pet.” 


Certain equipment is covered above in our Non-Negotiables. Clearly the use of many (most?) harnesses, head halters, collars (non-choking) and leashes would not be considered physical force under this guiding definition if 1) they are used consistent with our guiding principles, 2) they are used as intended and designed and 3) they are not used in a way that is contrary to their design and intent,  i.e. not used in a manner which would cause psychological or physical pain, harm or damage. 

Section Two  PPG Member’ Professional Ethics

  1. We always hold the pet’s welfare as our top priority. The pet is the vulnerable component in the consultation process as they cannot offer informed consent.
  2. The professionals’ role is one that is beneficial to the pet and never to its detriment. Always seek to do no harm.
  3. Do not condone or endorse any treatment by a pet’s owner that is physically or mentally cruel. We will opt out of a consulting agreement rather than attempt to manage an unethical course of action.
  4. We only consult with clients who offer cases that we have the professional competence to deal with.
  5. We only use procedures, protocols and training tools that are empirically based and have a proven track record.
  6. We always consider communications with our clients privileged. We will only break that confidentiality if a pet is being abused and the client cannot be dissuaded from using their current approach. We always act according to local and state laws in terms of reporting animal cruelty.
  7. We recognize that the pet’s owner is responsible for their pet and the owner has the right to make decisions about the professional treatment of their pet.
  8. Ensure all communications are professional and based in fact. When discussing industry practices, trends or issues, members will limit discussion to practices and consequences rather than the individuals using them thereby ensuring informed, professional and civil exchanges that enrich members and the industry of force-free pet professionals.
  9. Apply the following ethical principles to each situation you encounter:   
  • Respect for the freedom and dignity of others.
  • Do no harm.
  • Do good.
  • Act fairly.
  • Be faithful to promises made.

You can also read this document here on PPG's recommended Best Practices or download a PDF here 

The Pet Professional Guild Vision

A world where people and pets can live together to their mutual benefit and where pets can live and function free from physical and mental pain, stress and fear as valued family members.

The Pet Professional Guild Mission

Our mission is to help make every pet a valued member of its family and improve the relationship and the quality of life people share with their pets by:

  • Providing the greatest value and highest quality, state-of-the-art, force-free, scientific based pet training and pet care for each client.
  • Always demonstrating integrity, compassion and an uncompromising commitment to excellence in the care and support of clients and their pets.
  • Continually expanding our knowledge and improving our skills to serve our clients as a valuable resource, providing the most innovative pet training and pet care possible.

Our Pledge

  1. We pledge to use our knowledge and skills for the benefit of pets and their owners.
  2. We pledge to practice our profession conscientiously with dignity and in keeping with the principles of The Pet Professional Guild.
  3. We pledge to accept, as a lifelong obligation, the continual improvement of professional knowledge and competence.
  4. We pledge to commit to the highest professional and ethical standards in any business practices and in the approach to pet training and pet care.
  5. We pledge to always treat customers with respect, kindness and caring.
  6. We pledge to work openly and honestly with clients who share these values in their relationship with their pet and who;


  • Enjoy working, playing and spending time with their pets.
  • Integrate their pets into their family and are willing to teach them how to live in a human society.
  • Recognize and understand the value, effectiveness and power of force-free training methods.
  • Are dedicated to optimizing the physical, social and mental well-being of their pets.

The Guild’s Key Values


  • First, do no harm. Our ethical principles allow for no harm and provide for the well being of each pet.
  • Emphasize a 'holistic', force-free approach to pet training and pet care by attending to the physical, emotional and environmental well being of pets in our care.

The Guild Key Charter States That:

a)  By combining and coordinating our knowledge, efforts, skills, talents and passions to pursue a common purpose, we can accomplish far more together than any one of us could possibly accomplish alone. The Pet Professional Guild was founded on a commitment to provide educational resources to pet industry professionals and the pet-owning public while emphasizing our collaboration of force-free pet trainers and pet care providers.

b) We aim to publicize “our voice for the profession” advocating for mutually agreed guiding principles for the pet care industry. The Pet Professional Guild members and affiliates focus on a pet’s physical, mental, environmental and nutritional well-being, a holistic approach to the care and training of family pets.”

To ensure we can fully implement our charter and work within the guidelines of our Guiding Principles I am challenging each of us to help shape and mold our culture.

As Members We Must All Focus On:

1.      Building a personal organization like an extended family, a place where we all share a lot of ourselves and our knowledge skills and talents.
2.      Encouraging a dynamic organization full of entrepreneurial ideas that can be shared among members as best practices.
3.      Building an organization that is held together by the glue of loyalty, respect for each other and mutual trust.
4.      Shaping a collaborative model that exemplifies open, honest, non-aggressive communication both within our organization and to those who have not yet joined us.

Meeting The Challenge

If we are to meet the challenge of our charter “emphasizing the collaboration of force-free pet trainers and pet care providers” and “advocate for mutually agreed guiding principles for the pet care industry” then we all need to lead by example in each and every one of our interactions whether it be with our clients, our fellow members or our industry at large. Through our actions and high standards of conduct and performance we can influence how our industry evolves. We can engage and educate others to join us in our force free movement.

Each of us wants to bring about change in our industry.  We yearn for a day when pain will no longer be used in the training and care of pets. We have a big job ahead of us and this is not going to be a sprint, it’s going to be a marathon.

If we are to be highly effective as individuals and as a group then we must manage and shape this change carefully.

Through PPG we have formed a force-free coalition and we have developed our future vision and we are constantly building our strategy, a strategy that must be consistently and professionally communicated. We must remove emotional barriers and welcome individuals who are aligned with us philosophically but not yet armed with the tools and skills to be effective force-free professionals.  This is how we can educate and engage others. We need to reach out to other organizations, groups and associations that seek the same change as we do and work together building on early successes. We need to maintain our pace of change and put systems in place to reinforce others who seek to help us in our change efforts.


Our Success Relies On Our Ability to Be Influential and Credible

Our key charter relies on our ability to be influential and the process of guiding people toward the adoption of our beliefs.  Reardon’s ACE Theory suggests, and I concur, that people use three criteria to determine whether to respond to a persuader’s message;

 a) The appropriateness of the message, how is the message delivered and in what context,

 b) The consistency of the message and how much sense the message makes and

c) The effectiveness of the message, does it impact a desirable outcome.  Persuasion is not simple and it requires many steps (Janasz et al 2002).

 We Can And Will Bring About Change In Our  Industry

If we all believe in ourselves and our organization and its underpinning principles and values then we can and will bring about change. When engaging and educating industry professionals you must know and recognize your audience. When you understand your audience you are better able to communicate with them in an impactful manner. Balance emotional appeals with facts and solid reasoning. Use facts, data and logic. Question your propositions before presenting them or you can damage your credibility and negatively impact your message. Use appropriate, respectful and courteous communication and in this era of social media be particularly sensitive to how your written word may be perceived. Use lots of reinforcement and maintain positive dialogue so we can continue to spread our message to audiences that are receptive to listening. Be what we all aspire to bring about.  And always be ‘force-free’ in your own behavior and communication.

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