As a trainer, you always need to take care of your dog’s wellbeing and comfort in training situations.
Trainers are honest to themselves and to others about the boundaries of their competence. When necessary, they ask for help from a professional (animal trainer, animal physiotherapist, nutrition expert etc.), someone who is familiar with the species of the animal being trained, or the problem or issue at hand.
The health of the animal being trained needs to be checked before training begins. If one suspects pain or some sort of disease or illness, a vet needs to diagnose him. The animal’s health and unique qualities need to be considered when creating a training plan and also during training.
- A trainer gets to know each animal individually, and acquires enough knowledge of the unique qualities of that specific species.
- A trainer handles the animal in a manner that is calm and suitable for the species, and safe for both the animal and people.
- A trainer refuses to teach the animal things that weaken or impair its wellbeing, or affect the safety of the environment. An exception to this can be situations in which the animal’s behavior is significantly beneficial for people, in other than monetary sense, such as rescue missions in natural disaster areas, or something similar.
- A trainer is aware of his/her responsibility of how the changes made in training or in an animal’s living environment affect the wellbeing of the environment and safety in the long run, regardless of whether the training is over and the trainer has left.
- A trainer chooses the most favorable training method (for the animal), for each situation, and masters it, so it doesn’t cause the animal any pain or fear. Training is, first and foremost, based on reinforcing wanted behavior, instead of punishing for unwanted behavior. Scaring the animal or using violence are not methods of training. Training should not make the animal learn helplessness or cause him to be overly cautious.
Tools in training
If tools are used in training, they should not cause any trouble, danger or discomfort to the animal, trainer or the environment. The trainer needs to familiarize the animal beforehand with all the tools and equipment being used, and teach the animal how to avoid touching the equipment if necessary. If a piece of equipment is constantly dressed on the animal, or somehow slightly touching him, he must first be desensitized to the feel of the equipment, and then taught how he can avoid, for example, the leash getting tighter. The feel of the equipment can’t cause the animal pain or discomfort.
Problematic situations in training
In problematic situations in training, a trainer aims, first and foremost, to recognize the real reason behind the behavior, and to remove that, instead of, for example, only treating the symptoms with different methods of training. If the animal is afraid, the trainer needs to spend time to get rid of the fear by systematic desensitization.
A trainer doesn’t expose the animal to the object of fear (flooding), even though that could cause the animal not to respond to it anymore. A trainer needs to recognize the difference between systematic desensitization and exposing the animal to the object of fear (flooding), and be aware of the risks of the latter method.
Laws that protect animals/animal welfare legislation
It is a trainer’s job to take care of an animal’s wellbeing and comfort, and to make sure that the laws that protect animals, and other requirements are fulfilled while training, and in other situations too.
A trainer is obliged to inform animal welfare/protection authorities of all violations of animal protection laws that he or she encounters.