Best Friends Dog Training and Behaviour is the latest dog training company in Powell River to receive BC SPCAâ€™s AnimalKind accreditation. They join Paw in Hand, which moved to the region in the spring.
The AnimalKind accreditation recognizes dog training companies that use evidence-based positive reinforcement training methods and are committed to high animal welfare. Nicole Fenwick, manager, research and standards for the BC SPCA, says, â€śIn B.C., dog training is unregulated, and anyone can claim to be a dog trainer, regardless of their education or credentials. Dog guardians could end up trusting their dogs to someone who uses outdated techniques that negatively impact the bond between guardians and their dogs. By recommending only AnimalKind accredited trainers, the BC SPCA can connect dog guardians to humane, expert trainers.â€ť
Sandy Middleton, owner and trainer at Best Friends Dog Training and Behaviour, explains the importance of using humane training methods. Middleton says, â€śI train using positive reinforcement because I canâ€™t imagine inviting a dog into my life and my home and then treating them unkindly. There is no place for hurting or scaring dogs in the name of training or for any other reason. I never want to betray a dogâ€™s trust by using aversive methods or equipment. Itâ€™s not only unkind. Itâ€™s ineffective and aversive techniques actually cause many dogs to become fearful and aggressive.â€ť
Middleton became a dog trainer as her second career. The retired Capilano College instructor attributes her interest in dog training to her own dogs, Sophie and TT. Middleton says, â€śMy dog Sophie had become reactive to other dogs, and I was looking for ways to help her with that. I loved Sophie so much, and it hurt to see her barking and snarling at other dogs. I wanted to change that. And my dog TT was a feral puppy who I adopted. TT came home with me at seven months afraid of his own shadow.â€ť
To receive AnimalKind accreditation, companies undergo a rigorous auditing process that ensures their training methods follow science-backed AnimalKind dog standards. Fenwick says, â€śWe are excited Best Friends Dog Training and Behaviour is now part of the AnimalKind community, and that more dogs on the Sunshine Coast will benefit from working with these amazing trainers who are so committed to animal welfare.â€ť Middleton says, â€śI am happy and proud to be accredited by the AnimalKind program. Iâ€™m honoured to be listed among all the wonderful trainers in BC who are doing such great work demonstrating the power of humane, science-based training and helping people and their dogs live their best lives together.â€ť
The BC SPCA launched the first set of AnimalKind standards â€“ for wildlife and rodent control companies â€“ in 2018. Through a partnership with the UBC Animal Welfare Program, the BC SPCA, Vancouver Foundation, and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies provided funding to establish the program. AnimalKind standards for dog training â€“ the second set of standards developed, were launched in January 2019.
Learn more about AnimalKind accreditation, what to look for in a trainer, or find a trainer near you at animalkind.ca.