Choosing a Dog Trainer

Choosing a dog trainer can be a minefield. With fancy websites, and the power of social media its’ hard for dog owners to know what to look for and what questions to ask of their potential dog trainer.

You may not be aware, but the UK training and behaviour industry is unregulated, which means that anybody can set themselves up as a dog trainer or behaviourist and claim to help you with your dog. This brings a whole host of problems ranging from poor service, bad advice and potentially damaging and life- limiting information for the dog.

Moreover, the stakes can be quite high, when we’re dealing with dogs that are aggressive or fearful. This is why it is so important to make sure that you and your best friend, have the best possible trainer from the outset. Let’s take a look at what’s available to you and your dog.

Before we go into how to find a trainer, let’s take a look at the methods that people use to train dogs. Simply put, we have three different methods of training dogs.

Method one is using punishment-based techniques which results in your dog being fearful of the consequences. An example could be training a sit by pushing the bottom to the floor or training lead walking by yanking the dog around the neck, or worse, using shock and prong collars. Not only does this make the dogs scared of the consequences. It also damages your relationship and let’s face it we all get a dog to be part of our family, so why would we want to hurt them in the name of training.

Method two is balanced training. Balanced training sounds okay, doesn’t it? But sadly, this has its drawbacks because in this training a mix of punishment based and reward-based techniques are used. This means, on one hand, you’ll be telling the dog off, and then when the dog gets it right, you’ll be giving the dog praise. Imagine going to work and being told off for something you’ve done, and then all of a sudden being told, you’ve done a good job. How confusing would that be for you? Not only could it be confusing, but it could also increase frustration and anxiety.

Pick carefully when choosing a trainer, as sometimes the terminology and the phrases used in the training industry can be quite misleading. The term balance would indicate that it’s good, but unfortunately in our eyes as positive trainers, we don’t believe that’s the case. Science tells us that using any type of punishment for your dog is not only harmful, but it’s also cruel and unnecessary. This brings me on to the last type of training.

Method three is positive reward training and the type of training we endorse. In this type of training, the trainer will have the skills to set your dog up to be successful so that means looking at the environment and other factors that involve your dog’s behaviour and setting them up to succeed. When we’re training our dogs, we set them up in the best possible environment so that they can succeed and be challenged at the same time.

“The great thing about positive training is you can be clear with your instructions and guidance whilst building a wonderful bond with positive training and gaining the desired result.”

We start our dogs off by showing them exactly what we want them to do. The great thing about positive training is you can be clear with your instructions and guidance whilst building a wonderful bond with positive training and gaining the desired result.

Those are the three techniques and we recommend the positive reinforcement technique would be the only way you would probably want to train your dog. Why on earth would you get a dog to hurt it or cause it harm or distress, you wouldn’t.

Now you know what type of training to look for the next challenge is how would you find a genuinely qualified trainer. With the industry unregulated traditionally it was made up of various membership organisations each working their codes of practice, then in 2020, a group of leading organisations formed together, creating the UK behaviour and training charter. The charter involves some self-regulation and improves the animal and dog welfare industry.

The Charter brings together organisations behind a shared vision of standards and accountability for the sector. The welfare of dogs lies at the heart of its mandate, making a clear representation as to what is and isn’t acceptable in a modern, progressive profession with explicit assurance to the public, other professional bodies and government agencies that signatory organisations are committed to open, transparent and robust complaints and grievance procedures that can be supported by independent arbitration if need be.

The charter symbol gives assurance and accountability to the public and other bodies and organisations that belong to the charter. Members are Animal Centred Education, APDT, CAPBT, ICB, IMDT, Association of Into Dogs, The UK College of Scent Dogs, The Pet Professional Guild and Victoria Stilwell Academy. This brings together a wonderful group of individual organisations that have one common goal to work together to improve standards in training and welfare for our pets.

What questions should I ask a dog trainer?

  1. What qualifications do they have? – Ideally educated to degree level in dog behaviour, with accreditation to prove practical skills.

  2. What accreditations do they have? – Ideally one of these – IMDT, CAPBT, ICB, UKCSD, APDT, VSPDT

  3. What methods do they use? Only accept positive reinforcement trainers

  4. Can you support me and my dog now and ongoing? Good trainers offer long term training programs and lifelong support.

Another point worth making is if your dog has a behavioural problem, rather than a training need, such as aggression, separation anxiety, resource guarding you need a behaviourist. There is a big difference in education level between a trainer and behaviourist and again a behaviourist should be at least level 5 in their education with a certified or accredited qualification. Be vigilant of bogus websites that claim to be directories of dog trainers or those offering badges of approval with no actual accreditation behind them.

If this has made you think twice before hiring a trainer or given you something to check we are happy for you, as this could change the outcome to a very positive one if you have a dog that needs help with their training.

Where to find our expert!

My name is Zoe Willingham and I am a qualified, independently accredited dog trainer & behaviourist.

I personally teach all the classes and behaviour consultations as I believe your dog is a part of your family and it’s really important to me that I know you all personally. I also have a fabulous team of assistant trainers that are present at classes.

For more information:

Download the K9 app for FREE!

Check out some of our related articles!

Cats and Dogs

In 2019, Cats Protection rehomed 41,000 cats and the Dogs Trust rehomed 11,790 dogs. That’s a lot of pets potentially moving into the home of another! Each pet is an individual, so how can we make the transition easier for them?

Read More »

Dogs and Children

Hearing your dog growl at your child is a heart stopping moment for any parent. Your reaction may well be to panic, punish the dog and then start to consider options like re-homing. But stop…breathe…it may not be as bad as you think.

Read More »

My name is Zoe Willingham and I am a qualified, independently accredited dog trainer & behaviourist.

I personally teach all the classes and behaviour consultations as I believe your dog is a part of your family and it’s really important to me that I know you all personally. I also have a fabulous team of assistant trainers that are present at classes.

For more information:

Check out some of our related articles!

Download the K9 app for FREE!

Download the app for FREE to read more great articles!

Sign up to our newsletter to receive a monthly email with the latest from K9 Nation!

Privacy Policy

Protecting your data is very important to K9Nation Limited (“K9Nation”, “us”, “our” or “we”). This policy, together with our Terms and  conditions, sets out the basis on which any personal data we collect from you, or that you provide to us, will be processed by K9Nation.

It applies to your use of the website, the associated ‘K9Nation’ mobile application (together, the “Platform”), all communications between you and us and (unless expressly provided otherwise) all agreements entered into between you and us which involve the collection by, or disclosure to, us of personal data.

Information we may collect about you.

We may collect and process the following data about you:

  • information that you provide by filling in forms on the Platform. This includes information you provide at the time of registering (including, but not limited to, your name, telephone number, address and email address) or at any subsequent point;
  • if you contact us, we may keep a record of that correspondence;
  • your responses to surveys you choose to complete on the Platform from time to time;
  • details of any photographs, comments, posts, or other information you post on the Platform;
  • device-specific information (such as your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information); and
  • details of your visits to the Platform (such as the full Uniform Resource Locators (URL) clickstream to, through and from the Platform (including date and time); page response times; page interaction information (such as scrolling, clicks, and mouse-overs), and methods used to browse away from the Platform).

Information we may collect about others.

We may collect and process data about others that you provide us with, including (but not limited to) information that you provide by filling in forms on the Platform. You represent and warrant to us that you have obtained the express consent from the individuals whose data you provide us with.

For the avoidance of any doubt, any reference in this privacy policy to your data shall include data about other individuals that you have provided us with.

IP Addresses

We may collect information about your computer, including where available your IP address, operating system and browser type, for system administration. This is statistical information about our users’ browsing actions and patterns, and may be linked to an individual user through other information that is held by us or publically available.

Cookie Policy

The Platform uses cookies to distinguish you from other users. This helps us provide you with a good experience when you use the Platform and also allows us to improve the Platform.

Please note that it is possible to disable cookies being stored on your computer by changing your browser settings. However, the Platform may not perform properly or some features may not be available to you if you disable cookies.

For detailed information on the cookies we use and the purposes for which we use them see our cookie policy.

Where we store your personal information.

The data that we collect about you may be transferred to, and stored at, a destination outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”), including the USA. It may also be processed by staff operating outside the EEA who work for us or for one of our service providers. By submitting your personal data, you agree to this transfer, storing and processing.

Your passwords are stored in K9Nation’s database in encrypted form. We do not disclose your account details, postal or email addresses to anyone except when legally required to do so. We will only hold your information for as long as is necessary for the purpose we collect it for, or for such additional time as may be required by law or any relevant regulatory body.


Sensitive information between your browser and the Platform is transferred in encrypted form using Secure Socket Layer (SSL). When transmitting sensitive information, you should always make sure that your browser can validate the Platform’s certificate. It is your responsibility to keep your password secure.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although K9Nation will do its best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to the Platform, any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try and prevent any unauthorised access.

How we use your information.

We use information held about you (and information about others) in the following ways:

  • to provide you with our services;
  • to reply to requests for information or any other kind of request as indicated by your correspondence;
  • to provide you with information about other goods and services we offer that are similar to those you have already purchased or enquired about;
  • to allow you to participate in interactive features of the Platform when you choose to do so, including interaction with external social networks and platforms;
  • to improve the Platform and ensure the content on the Platform is presented in the most effective manner for you and your computer or mobile device;
  • to administer our Platform and for internal operations ,including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research, statistical and survey purposes;
  • to measure or understand the effectiveness of advertising served to you on the Platform; and
  • to notify you about changes to our service, the Platform.

Disclosure of your information

We may disclose your personal information to any business partner, sub-contractor or supplier of K9Nation for the performance of any contract we enter into with you, and/or a member of our group.

We may also disclose your personal information to third parties:

  • in the event that we sell or buy any business or assets, in which case we may disclose your personal data to the prospective seller or buyer of such business or assets;
  • if K9Nation or substantially all of its assets are acquired by a third party, in which case personal data held by us about our customers will be one of the transferred assets;
  • in order to enforce the Terms and Conditions and any other agreement between you and us; or
  • if we are under a duty to disclose or share your personal data in order to comply with any legal obligation or to protect the rights, property, or safety of K9Nation, our customers, or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organisations.

Marketing communications and your rights

By registering for an account on the Platform, you give your permission for us to use your personal data for marketing purposes in relation to our products and services. You have the right to ask us not to process your personal data by contacting us.

The Data Protection Act 1998 gives you the right to access information held about you by submitting a request in accordance with the act and is subject to a £10 administrative fee. All such requests should be sent via our contact form.

Changes to this policy

Any changes we make to our privacy policy in the future will be posted on this page, and where appropriate, notified to you by email.

Questions, comments and requests regarding this privacy policy are welcome and should be addressed via our email address:

Cookie Policy

We use cookies and similar tools on our website,, and the associated ‘K9Nation’ mobile application (together, the “Platform”) to improve their performance and enhance your user experience. This policy explains how we do that.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files which a website may put on your computer or mobile device when you first visit a site or page. The cookie will help the website, or another website, to recognise your device the next time you visit. We use the term “cookies” in this policy to refer to all files that collect
information in this way.

There are many functions cookies serve. For example, they can help us to remember your username and preferences, analyse how well the website is performing, or even allow us to recommend content we believe will be most relevant to you.

Certain cookies contain personal information – for example, if you click to “remember me” when logging in, a cookie will store your user identifier. Most cookies will not collect information that identifies you, but will instead collect more general information such as how users arrive at and use the website.

The cookies we use.

At the date of the last update of this Cookie Policy, the list below represents a comprehensive list of all cookies set on the Platform, but please note that the cookies we use are subject to fairly frequent change. The purposes of the cookies in use, as described below will not change without this policy being updated. However we may not update this policy every time the identity of a particular cookie or the party setting the cookie changes.


Category: Strictly necessary


Purpose: BorrowMyDoggy uses cookies to enable the essential features of the website, such as the navigation system, signing up for the service, subscribing, verifying and messaging.


Category: Analytical /  Performance

Parties: Amplitude, Hotjar, Segment, Google Analytics, Optimizely, Improvely

Purpose: These cookies are used to analyse data from users’ visits in order to help us improve the service or create and analyse content tests to allow us to optimise the experience for future users.


Category: Functionality


Purpose: BorrowMyDoggy uses functionality cookies to improve the experience for its users. For example, to save users from having to remember their username, we use a cookie to remember this information.


Category: Advertising

Parties: Google Adwords, Facebook, DoubleClick, Affiliate Window, Improvely

Purpose: BorrowMyDoggy uses paid advertising in order to recruit new customers. These paid advertising channels will set cookies so that we can measure the effectiveness of this advertising.

Can you block cookies?

It is possible to block cookies, although remember that if you do choose to disable cookies, you may find that certain sections of the Platform do not work properly.

More detail on how businesses use cookies is available at

If you have any queries regarding this Cookie Policy please contact our Privacy Officer at