Tuesday, 2 May 2017

That dog trainer failed all her exams and it doesn’t matter.

You can see it all over social media as the dreaded SATS approach.

Smiling adult holds up a placard saying “I failed my exams and it never did me any harm – don’t worry you can still be successful”.


Or the lists of scientists or celebrities who did poorly at school, yet went on to become world leaders, amazing thinkers and so on. “Einstein failed his maths exams but look what he did…” *

I can totally understand people wanting to reduce the pressure on children sitting exams, but sometimes I wonder if it gives the wrong impression. Failing exams is just one of those things that happen (one day I’ll tell you about my PhD viva!) but it’s what we do afterwards that really matters.

Being persistent and getting on with learning what you need to know, and recognising that sometimes exams or at least academic learning is worth working for. This is just as important in dog training and behaviour.

Why spend your money on a trainer or behaviourist with an academic degree or qualifications when you could get cheap help from a person who “has had dogs all their life” and “learned through experience”. After all, exams and formal education aren’t necessary…

Except when they are.

Except when not having that deep understanding means the dog trainer fails to properly assess your dog, and you end up with the wrong training plan.

And your dog bites someone.

The thing is, dog training and behaviour really is both an art and a science. You can’t learn hands-on practical skills sitting in a classroom, but equally you don’t learn how medical conditions can seriously affect behaviour or how to distinguish between emotional motivations by playing with puppies all day.

There has to be a balance between hands on skill and deep understanding. Our dogs deserve the very best science AND experience based ethical training and support.

So I’m absolutely over the moon to tell you that as of Friday 28th April 2017, I am now a full member of the APBC (Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors) and a registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist with the ABTC. I already hold full membership of the APDT UK showing that my practical training skills have been assessed, but this validates my work as an animal behaviourist both for deep academic knowledge and the ability to support owners in changing their pet’s behaviour.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the vets who wrote references for me, to those kind owners who allowed me to use their anonymised cases for my application and my incredibly long suffering team who had to put up with me!

Have a good week

Morag

*PS not that Einstein did fail his maths exams. He failed one entrance exam to one school but did consistently well at his classes and in other exams. That’s the power of myth creation for you!

PPS If you have an insurance policy that covers behavioural therapy/rehabilitation (such as with Petplan) you will now be able to claim our fees back – hooray!

PPPS I've no idea what my SATS score would be!

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