Code of Ethics

For Humans & Dogs

There is no reason to hurt dogs, not even their feelings.

In addition to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility, I adhere to the Pet Professional Guild’s Guiding Principles, agreeing to train with only force-free methods. “Force-Free Means: No shock, no pain, no choking, no fear, no physical force, no physical molding, no compulsion-based methods are used to train or care for your pet… Force also means any intentional physical act against a pet that causes psychological or physical pain, harm or damage to the pet.” When people hear “reward-based” or “force-free,” we sometimes think that means rude behavior will be accepted, or that high expectations for skill performance must be abandoned. In fact, my expectation is that dogs I teach or live with are well-behaved, happy, and polite members of our community, whose minds are engaged and challenged on a daily basis, and who excel at the skills they practice.

Here is a summary of the two codes I  follow, with a few additions some colleagues and I have added.

  • I pledge to never discriminate against any human or animal based on the following: race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, disability, physical limitations, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, religion, or breed.
  • I pledge to always put the animal in my care first as they are vulnerable and unable to give consent.
  • I pledge to always provide for the safety of clients and animals alike, both their physical and psychological well-being.
  • I pledge to respect and maintain the confidentiality of my clients information that is obtained through the course of business and thereafter.
  • I pledge to act with honesty and integrity towards clients, providing them professional services at the highest standards, while respecting their training and behavior goals.
  • I pledge to honestly assess and acknowledge my own personal and professional knowledge, experience, and qualifications and work within my professional limits.
  • I pledge to refrain from giving guarantees regarding the outcome of training as I cannot guarantee the cooperation and performance of all parties involved and acknowledge that behavior itself is not static and there for not a guarantee.
  • I pledge to respect my colleagues, competitors, and other professionals and will refrain from the public defamation of such and I will not falsely condemn the character of their professional acts.
  • I pledge to apply force free techniques when interacting and working with animals. By conducting business in a force free manner I agree to never intentionally act against an animal in a way that causes physical or psychological pain, harm or damage.
  • I pledge to not condone or endorse any treatment by an animal’s owner that is physically and psychologically cruel. I will however, to the best of my ability, educate them on force free treatment methods.  If the owner cannot comply with the force free methods I will then end our consultations, rather than continue to manage an unethical course of action.
  • I pledge to never use aversive methods when working with animals such as fear based, compulsion based, or physical force. I also agree to never use the training tools that go with these training methods such as a choke collar, prong/pinch collar, or shock collar.
  • I pledge to keep myself educated on up to date positive reinforcement and force free training methods.
  • I pledge to represent Whatcom Dog Co. as a professional member with honor and good intentions. If at any time I am unsure of a method I am using I understand I can turn to any other Professional member for guidance without judgement.