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Work Based Learning role description:

The Dog Training Behaviour Assessor

The Dog Training Behaviour Assessor has acquired on the job vocational training in training dogs on a one to one basis, whether this is as a part time club trainer or a full/part-time professional dog trainer. They will already be an experienced Dog Training Instructor and will have all of the skills required for that role.

The emphasis on the Dog Training Behaviour Assessor is one of identifying problematic behaviour problems in a dog within the class situation or one to one training and socialisation settings. This is separate to dog training and obedience actions and education.

Identifying problems early on in dog training, problems like fear and aggression and dealing with it at the start of the dog’s education and training probably has more influence on the success rate and confidence level of the owner rather than leaving it to become an embedded part of the dog’s psyche.

The Dog Training Behaviour Assessor will have sessions / lessons to ameliorate the problem behaviour which needs to show rapid change. They will also know, through experience, when to identify a behaviour that needs instant referral to a canine behaviour practitioner for assessment and detailed time specific behaviour programme implementation.

They will have extensive handling skills and experience with adult dogs of varying ages also. A detailed knowledge of puppy and dog psychology is imperative.

The Work Based Learning Path to being a Dog Training Behaviour Assessor

More often than not, we start training to be a Dog Training Behaviour Assessor without actually realising we’re doing it. Through experience we learn the nuances of normal behaviour and by default can begin to spot any unusual or problematic behaviour.

With practical hands on experience one learns the development of certain behavioural traits and characteristics of an individual or breed of dogs.

Casual observation / formal observation

Dog Training

Ancillary Work Based Learning Skills

As well as being an established Dog Training Instructor, the candidate must also have a plethora of other dog training skills, attended many courses and achieved many awards on a personal basis with their own dogs.

They may have qualifications outside of the dog training arena that contribute to their competence, confidence and skill as a Dog Training Behaviour Assessor and, under the Work Based Learning ethos, these should be acknowledged and recognised as achievements to date within the profession.

Minimum vocational training requirements

As a dog Trainer

As a dog Training instructor

As a dog training behaviour assessor

Dogs handled

Total number of hours required

Theory / academic knowledge

Reading for interest



Watching DVDs






Practical experience / courses attended

Courses attended




Indvidual dogs trained


(150 dogs)

Breeds handled - minimum


(20 breeds)


Adult dog classes



Mentored learning

Observation of / attending training / classes



Instructed learning one-to-one



Teaching assistant: adult dog classes



Teaching assistant: puppy classes








Overview of minimum skills and experience required

The Dog Training Behaviour Assessor will already be an experienced Dog Training Instructor and, at the very minimum, a Dog Trainer. The dog training behaviour assessor needs to be able to assess adult dog's behaviour as well as the need to be able to make the link between the way that a dog is behaving at the minute and what, if not corrected, it will potentially turn into.

There is behaviour advice to be proffered in the training arena, but more importantly there is the one to one session whereby the Dog Training Behaviour Assessor takes the owner and dog to a one to one private area/room for advice. This may be in the form of having other family members present or simply showing the owner how to understand the dogs learning process by explanation.

It may be as simple as selecting written pamphlets and guiding the owner through the information before they return to the class or one to one instruction for obedience training.

Where a dog is fearful the Dog Training Behaviour Assessor may have to go into detail whilst explaining how dogs learn and what special habituation and socialisation training is required.

Owners understanding their dog’s actions and reactions will without doubt help solve the problems presented. They can then return to the class environment with that specialised information.

The role of the Dog Training Behaviour Assessor includes monitoring any dogs where the owners have received advice ensuring that the owners seek a professional canine behaviour practitioner if matters don't improve swiftly.

Prior to referring to a Canine Behaviour Practitioner however, it is important that Puppy Behaviour Assessor evaluates whether the owner has pet insurance that covers behaviour or that the person can afford to pay for a behaviour consultation.

Thousands of people simply cannot afford pet insurance or the fees for a Canine Behaviour Practitioner and therefore referring is pointless as the owners will generally agree and then go away and do nothing due to their current economic situation. These behaviours can then become critical long term, resulting in the dog being euthanised or leading to a miserable existence.

The PETbc Educational Advisors feel that all members of society, whatever their income or their circumstances, should be given help with the behaviour needs of their dogs should they require it. As such, the Puppy Behaviour Assessor should use their knowledge of the situation to facilitate a programme that will see the puppy, and the owner, getting the help they need.

Accomplishments and Qualifications

Training course providers

Personal (Work Based) Achievements

Cambridge Institute for Dog Behaviour & Training

Animal Care College

Guide dog training

National Association of Security Dog Users

Home Office police dog training

The British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers

Other courses are also available

KC Competition obedience

KC Beginner

KC Novice

KC A B C comp-C

KC Agility

KC Working Trials




KC Field Trials

KC Bloodhound Trials

KC Herding Tests

Search & Rescue Cert

KC Accredited Instructor

The Kennel Club (KC) standards are some of the best in the world and to compete and win is an acknowledgement comparable with other high standards of training knowledge as in the horse world and international competitive events.

Reflective Learning

As a dog trainer, of any kind whether that’s club or professional, adult dogs or puppies, we are constantly evaluating what we are doing when we are doing it.

We start training an exercise and modify what we are doing depending upon the response we get from the dog we are training. Sometimes we change our position, the dog’s position, the motivating force (us, toy, food etc.,) or the equipment we use. As a dog trainer we just call that dog training, however, in the work based learning arena it’s called being a “reflective practitioner”.

It is imperative that dog trainers realise that they are reflecting back; not only with the dog they have in front of them but of past cases and dogs they’ve worked with. A dog trainer cannot progress without this aspect of experiential learning, it would be impossible as no two dogs are the same and no two will react in the same manner.

Although we do it automatically, the importance of reflection in learning at work and awareness of the process, needs to be acknowledged for an individual to be able to carry out any kind of self-accreditation via the work based learning scheme.

Technical and textbook knowledge, though important, is insufficient to prepare individuals to be practising professionals. Knowing how or “knowing-in-action” must also be recognised as important. Knowing-in-action is referred to tacit and intuitive, rather than explicit knowledge, learned through doing rather than in the classroom. It is the kind of knowledge that underpins much everyday activity, whether at work or not.

Knowing-in-action is vital for dog trainers, as, as we all know, ‘real’ world problems tend to be “messy” rather than well formed. Problems with dogs tend to come along in rapid succession depending upon our reaction rather than nicely organised “first solve this problem, then solve that” as is often written in dog training books. Also some problems may well be unique to that situation, in the sense that they do not fit theoretical categories and therefore do not lend themselves to the applications of rules from the profession’s theoretical knowledge base.

When something untoward does happen it is likely to reflect on what’s going on in the midst of the activity itself. It is a consequence of this process that is known as “reflection-in-action” i.e., thinking about what we’re doing while we’re doing it and changing the process as we go along.

To be able to put into practice these reflective skills, both during and after the action, is what makes you a truly reflective practitioner.

Donald Schon (1983, 1987)

Comparative Degree Assessment elements:

In general an Animal Behaviour Degree will average 1800 hrs study time on wild animals and some domestic species. Dog specific theory is generally taught at less than 5% of the entire degree and rarely by a dog expert but by a teacher who has no practical experience. Animal behaviour degrees are not an expertise level in dog behaviour, training, theory or otherwise.

All vocational learning in canine work-based roles should be taught by highly skilled people with extensive hands-on experience. Degrees obtained, therefore, provide targeted theory learning in canine behaviour and training as well as extensive hands-on work to prepare the student for their chosen vocation.