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Jan 1, 2008


AABP 2008 Multi-Media Awards for Excellence - Winner of the Best Dog Book of 2008 (miscellaneous category)

Dog trainers face ethical decisions all the time. Do I keep working with a client when it is obvious that the owner will not keep up the training program to the detriment of the dog? Should I accept payments from other dog professionals to whom I refer clients? What is the proper way to interact with other dog trainers who use methods I disagree with? Author Jim Barry dives deep into the ethical questions frequently faced by dog trainers and offers up a systematic approach to helping trainers resolve difficult dilemmas. Click here to view an excerpt.

What reviewers are saying...

“The personal biases that influence dog training rarely receive the attention they warrant. Anyone who has visited a training chat group knows that open-minded discussion of alternate ideas is not the general rule. In The Ethical Dog Trainer, Jim Barry veers into dangerous waters as he investigates the underlying reasons dog training invites such militant viewpoints. He provides invaluable guidance to navigate this minefield, thanks to his combined background as a dog trainer and an educator specializing in ethics, conflict resolution, and politics. His chapter on dogs and society examines how attitudes toward animals are shaped by religious and cultural values. He courageously acknowledges that many incendiary disagreements arise from the ongoing debate over dog training as a profession or craft. “For most of its history, dog training was a craft or an art handed down from master to novice,” Barry writes. “Dog training was considered to be a skill that individuals acquired in real life, not in a classroom.” He traces the growing popularity of training certification programs and profit-based organizations that have evolved to meet this demand. Although he is an accredited trainer, he concedes that professional associations vary greatly in :their emphasis on knowledge and hand-on skills,” which makes it difficult to evaluate the merits of individual programs. This is an ambitious book, and it deserves to be read. However, I question whether the polarized factions of the dog-training world are ready to heed these sensible recommendations.” Amy Fernandez

Lançado em:
Jan 1, 2008

Sobre o autor

Jim Barry is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT). Prior to becoming a dog trainer, he was on the faculty at George Mason University, where he specialized in ethics, international politics, and conflict resolution. Jim lives in Middletown, Rhode Island with his wife, Vicki, their Labrador Retriever, Toby, and their cat, Little Guy.


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Amostra do Livro


The Ethical Dog Trainer.

A Practical Guide for Canine Professionals

Jim Barry

Dogwise Publishing

A Division of Direct Book Service, Inc.

701B Poplar Wenatchee, Washington 98801

1-509-663-9115, 1-800-776-2665

www.dogwisepublishing.com / info@dogwisepublishing.com

© 2008 Jim Barry

Graphic Design: Lindsay

Peternell Indexing: Cheryl Smith

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, digital or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher.

Limits of Liability and Disclaimer of Warranty:

The author and publisher shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages in connection with, or arising out of, the furnishing, performance, or use of the instructions and suggestions contained in this book.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Barry, Jim (Jim A.)

The ethical dog trainer : a practical guide for canine professionals / by Jim Barry.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-1-929242-56-6 (alk. paper)

1. Dog trainers. 2. Dogs—Training. I. Title.

SF431.B367 2008



ISBN: 978-1-929242-56-6

Printed in the U.S.A.

To the teachers who touch my mind and the dogs who touched my heart.




Part I Personal and Professional Ethics

1. What Does Ethics Have to do with Dog Training?

2. Essential Ethics

3. Dilemmas of Dog Trainers

4. Case Studies

5. Contributors’ Assesments of Case Studies

Part II Current Ethical Issues in Dog Training

6. Training Techniques and Equipment

7. Professionalism and Professional Boundaries

8. Dogs and Society

Part III Summing Up

9. The Ethical Dog Trainer


About the Author and Contributors



I would like to acknowledge at the outset that it is impossible to write a book on ethics without individual biases creeping in. For that reason, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all who provided comments and encouragement for this project, along the way indicating those areas in which biases seemed evident. An attempt has been made to remedy this defect, though no doubt vestiges of my beliefs and values remain. Gratitude is due especially to Steve Benjamin, faculty member at the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior; Steve Bliven, one of the best clients a trainer could wish for; Chris Brudecki, Director of Outreach for Petsafe/Invisible Fence Brand electric containment systems; John Brynda, Program Manager, Marketing Services for Radio Systems Corporation; Martin Deeley, Executive Director of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP); Cyndy Douan, President and founder of IACP; Michelle Douglas, member of the board of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT); Ian Dunbar, PhD, MRCVS, founder of APDT; Margie English, Chair, Ethics Committee, National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI); Chris Hannafin, DVM, President, Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association; Don Hanson, President of APDT; Fred Hassen, originator of the No Limitations method of electronic collar training; Lynn Hoover, founder and past president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC); Andrew Luescher DMV, PhD, DACVB, ECVBM-CA, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, Purdue University; Pat Miller, past president of APDT and author of The Power of Positive Dog Training; Christie Smith, Executive Director of the Potter League for Animals, Rhode Island’s premiere animal shelter; Susan Smith, Secretary and Treasurer of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT); Dani Weinberg, PhD, dog behavior consultant and author of Teaching People Teaching Dogs; Debbie Winkler, president of IAABC, and her colleagues on the Board; and Marilyn Wolf, Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) and member of the Truly Dog Friendly group.


Do you ever feel that you are caught in the middle? Between a dog with major behavior problems and an owner who wants instant results? Between a client and a breeder who is giving what you think is inappropriate advice? Between your own views about the treatment of dogs and the cultural norms of your community? If so, then this book is for you. For all of us who work with families and dogs, these clashes of values—ethical dilemmas—are inevitable. Just as we need skills and experience to work with dogs, we need to become adept at handling ethical challenges as well. The approach outlined in this book will help you to become as skilled at ethical decision-making as you are at working with families and dogs.

There are several reasons why ethics are important for all of us. First, we work daily with dogs and families. The decisions we make and the recommendations we give can have a great effect on their well-being. Second, we are part of a business that is working hard to be recognized as a profession. Professions need ethical standards to have credibility and grow. Third, we need to be able to look at ourselves directly and be comfortable with our choices. Being conscious about our values and developing effective ways to pursue them are vital to our self-respect. Finally, it’s very much in our interest to behave with integrity toward colleagues, clients and dogs. To do so enhances our reputation, enabling us to increase our ability to help—and maybe even our bottom line.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do this alone. For thousands of years, the greatest minds have pondered the best approaches to making ethical choices. This ancient wisdom can inform even modern decisions. This book provides an easy-to-understand synthesis of these approaches that you can use in your daily activities. You don’t need to be a philosopher to make good decisions, but it helps to know a little bit about the ways in which these deep thinkers have tried to work through dilemmas. You’ll be pleased to discover that it’s no more difficult than the learning psychology or canine behavior you learned to become the trainer that you are.

Plan of the Book

Here’s the road map to better ethical decisions.

This book has three parts. Part I focuses on personal and professional ethics for individual trainers and those in the related field of canine behavior consulting. Chapter 1 is a discussion about why ethics matters to dog trainers and how to develop an ethical vision for your business. Chapter 2 discusses the essential elements of ethics—how they apply to our lives, and their place in our profession. The chapter will review some of the enduring techniques for separating right from wrong and for deciding between competing values. These techniques will be put in context by drawing on the codes of conduct for the major dog training professional societies to show you how to use them in your daily business.

Chapter 3 focuses on decision-making in practice. To do that, fictional cases are provided in which dog trainers have to make difficult ethical choices, and then these examples can be used by other trainers facing similar situations to develop a clear, systematic six-step decision making process.

Chapter 4 provides an opportunity to work through some real-life application of this process. (Ethical decision-making, like dog training, is a skill; we need to practice to be proficient.) It presents a series of case studies that illustrate typical ethical challenges faced by dog trainers. You can read the cases, presented in Chapter 4, then apply the methods outlined in Chapter 3 to them, and then compare the conclusions with those of the author and other contributors in Chapter 5.

Part II broadens the discussion in Chapters 6 through 8 to tackle a number of current hot-button issues in the dog training profession. These include: What training methods are acceptable? How do we maintain respectful affiliations and professional relationships with colleagues whose methods may differ from our own? What are the appropriate boundaries between our profession and other related fields, such as applied animal behavior and veterinary medicine? And where do we stand on the broader societal debate regarding peoples’ relationships with animals— are they property, or do we have some deeper obligation to the animals in our lives? These are the dilemmas that have the potential to unite or divide dog trainers as they pursue their goal of recognition as professionals. Here you have an opportunity to read the various arguments and reflect on how they relate to your own views. Who knows, some views might change as a result.

In Part III, Chapter 9 contains a summary of the key points in the book and a set of considerations related to what an ethical dog trainer should know and do. It also summarizes how dog trainers develop as committed, ethical professionals.

The Resources section contains the codes of ethics and standards of conduct of some of the professional societies for dog training and allied fields. There is also a list of resources for those interested in pursuing this topic further, as well as some ethical stretching exercises based on those resources.

The goal of this book is to help you personally and professionally. The hope is that by mastering some simple, yet challenging principles, all of us dog trainers can raise the quality of our choices and make things better for our clients and dogs, as well as for our profession.

A Note on Sources

Because this is intended as a professional development book, not an academic tome, I have used an informal method of citation in the text and in the Resources list. In this age of rapid electronic searching, I assume that the books and articles cited will be easy for readers to find with the information provided. When websites are listed, the information cited was present at those addresses on October 31, 2007.



Chapter 1


Every day, dog trainers and behavior consultants come face to face with ethical challenges. But these challenges come to us in disguise, masquerading as choices about training methods, marketing efforts, working with clients, and collaborating with colleagues. In order to navigate effectively through these difficult situations, it’s essential to look behind the masks and see them for what they are—ethical issues that require us to have a clear vision based on a coherent set of beliefs, values, and principles to guide us.

Developing and implementing this vision is what ethics is all about.

What is ethics, anyway?

There are several ways to define ethics and ethical behavior, so it’s useful at the outset to look at some common definitions. In keeping with the practical intent of this book, we won’t be going too deeply into theory, but having a consistent set of terms and a clear understanding of some basic concepts will be useful, just as understanding and using the terminology of learning theory can be very helpful in training dogs.

The term ethics comes to us ultimately from the Greek word ethos, which means the character or nature of something. In the original sense, ethics simply means being true to our nature. The American Heritage Dictionary has several definitions:

1. A set of principles of right conduct.

2. A theory or system of moral values.

3. [The] study of moral philosophy.

4. The rules of standards of . . . a person or the members of a profession.

Some people use the terms ethics and morals interchangeably; others think of ethics as related to external standards and of morals as the dictates of individual conscience. Actually, the word morals is derived from the Latin mores, which means customs or traditions, so the original meanings were the opposite of the current practice.

To avoid unnecessary confusion, we are going to use both ethics and morals to refer to either external or internal principles of conduct. We’ll also use ethics to mean the branch of philosophy that studies issues of right and wrong.

Do I really need this stuff to be a successful trainer?

Why bother getting bogged down in definitions? The short answer is to be a better trainer. Being an ethical trainer and a successful trainer— at least as we commonly define success—are not exactly the same, but there is a relationship. Trainers who act in accordance with their highest standards feel more comfortable with themselves than those who cut corners. This enables them to focus their energies on developing their knowledge and skills rather than trying to work around ethical problems. They also come across to their clients as reliable people who deliver what they promise. By conveying an image of integrity, they may find that their clients are more inclined to recommend them to others. Trainers who are forthright, compassionate, and supportive are, in the long run, more likely to achieve a positive reputation than those who exaggerate their abilities or care more about themselves than their clients. Customers can tell.

So there’s no guarantee that ethical behavior will lead to fame, fortune, and a bigger bottom line. But there are both personal and professional benefits to being the best that we can be, in every sense.

Creating a vision

One way to link our business goals to our ethics is through a vision statement. According to the online consulting firm 1000ventures.com, a vision statement is a short, succinct, and inspiring statement of what the organization intends to become and to achieve at some point in the future… the image that a business must have of its goals before it sets out to reach them. Here are some examples of vision statements:

• We bring good things to life. (General Electric)

• We save people money so they can live better. (Wal-Mart)

• To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. (Nike)

These statements, of course, double as advertising slogans, and we may not agree with all of the activities that these and other companies undertake. However, a well-crafted vision statement can serve as a guidepost for all business activities, integrating core beliefs, fundamental values, and highest principles into a set of specific goals that provides a way to achieve personal satisfaction—and, hopefully, business success.

Beliefs, values, and principles

How do we create a positive vision and become both successful and ethical dog trainers? This book will outline some steps to take when, in pursuit of certain goals, dog trainers are confronted with temptations to act unethically or with dilemmas that require them to make uncomfortable choices. Before going into those steps in detail, however, it’s useful to start with a look at ourselves.

When we act ethically, we conduct ourselves in accordance with what we hold to be true (beliefs), what we esteem (values), and guidelines for how we should act (principles). For example, if we believe that animals have inherent dignity and rights, we would value compassion toward them and might follow a principle of minimizing harm in our work with dogs. If we believe that people have a right to freedom of choice, we would value honesty in our relationships and might follow a principle of providing complete information on all options available for resolving a family dog’s behavior problems.

What do I know to be true?

At the beginning of our journey toward becoming highly ethical trainers, then, it’s useful to ask ourselves what our core beliefs are. People often talk about their belief systems. Usually, they are mixing up beliefs, values, and interests, so it’s helpful to begin by looking at what we hold to be true, and how we come to have that set of beliefs.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines belief as, Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something. The historical roots of the word imply a religious faith, but that is only one of the ways in which people come to a conclusion about what is true. There are factual beliefs based on direct observation (i.e. Many retired racing Greyhounds have trouble learning to sit,) scientific conclusions based on research studies (like, When a dog is under stress, it’s heart beats faster and blood flows toward the muscles in preparation for fight or fight,) or conclusions widely held within a group or culture (such as, Pit bulls are more dangerous than other breeds.)

Beliefs have varying degrees of reliability, and many, including some of those above, may actually be untrue. But our beliefs do, in a very real sense, provide the foundation for our behavior. So as a first step, it’s valuable to enumerate our beliefs about dogs, about the people with whom we work, and about the nature of our business.

Here are just a few of the many questions about beliefs that you may want to ponder:

About dogs: What are dogs for? Are they to be regarded as independent creatures with the same rights as humans? May they be used to promote human goals? Or do they fall somewhere in between, with rights that are limited in some ways in comparison to humans; and if so, what are those limits?

About people: What is my relationship to my clients? Am I a service provider, an educator, a counselor? Do I work for them, or are we equal collaborators? Are all of the people with whom I work to be valued equally, or are some to be regarded more highly than others? Are there things that clients might do that would cause me to want to stop working with them?

About business: What am I in business for? Is the purpose of dog training to help families to be more content with their dogs? To achieve awards? To provide a living for myself and my family? What makes a successful business? Is it the bottom line, the achievement of a particular set of performance goals, esteem within my community?


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