AVS launches new AVS-Accredited Certified Dog Trainer Scheme
10 Dec 2022
- New scheme encourages shift from traditional punishment-based training to more rewards-based methods for training of pet dogs
The Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster of the National Parks Board (NParks), launched the AVS-Accredited Certified Dog Trainer (ACDT) Scheme today. The ACDT scheme will replace the current Panel for the Accreditation of Dog Trainers (PADT) scheme and serve as a competency benchmark for dog trainers. This is part of AVS’ continuous efforts to raise standards in the pet sector since 2019.
Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State for National Development, said, “The new AVS-Accredited Certified Dog Trainer scheme is the result of extensive stakeholder consultations over the last two years and aims to raise the standards and professionalism of the dog training industry. It signals a clear shift towards safe and effective training methods that are grounded in science, ensuring that the welfare of dogs is safeguarded during the training. Accredited trainers will also be required to comply with codes of conduct set by their certifying bodies. We encourage trainers to be accredited, to not only develop your professional skills, but also keep up to date on the latest science in the field of animal training. This can help us collectively achieve more positive outcomes for our pets.”
To ease the transition between the PADT and ACDT schemes, trainers who have been accredited under the PADT can continue practicing as an “AVS-accredited trainer” for two years from today. After the grace period, PADT trainers who are unable to meet the criteria required for accreditation under the ACDT scheme, will be removed from the list of AVS-accredited dog trainers.
New ACDT scheme focuses on trainers’ professional competencies
The new ACDT scheme serves as a benchmark for competency in dog training to better manage dog aggression and other disamenities in an effective and humane way. It places greater emphasis on assessing trainers’ professional competencies through only recognising the certifications from four independent animal behaviour and training organisations. These organisations were selected based on key principles such as being science and evidence-based, having sound governance and their adaptability to local context. In order to be certified under one of these four independent organisations, dog trainers will have to possess a basic understanding of science-based training methods, dog welfare and behaviour, be committed to ethical training approaches, and meet international standards of competency. While accreditation under the ACDT scheme is voluntary, it provides dog owners with access to a group of trainers who are trained with the skills and competency to better guide owners in training and managing their dogs’ behaviour.
To ensure that accredited trainers continue to keep up to date with the latest rewards-based training methods, requirements such as achieving continuing education units (CEUs) are in place for renewal of accreditation with the four independent certifying bodies.
AVS will organise webinars and workshops to upskill dog trainers and facilitate them in obtaining the necessary knowledge for successful certification, and to aid current PADT trainers in their transition to the ACDT scheme.
Gaps identified in current training scheme by the Rehoming and Adoption Workgroup (RAWG)
The new ACDT scheme is the result of a series of closed-door stakeholder engagements and focus group discussions conducted by RAWG, as well as an online public consultation which gathered views from almost 4,000 respondents. Formed in October 2020, the multi-stakeholder workgroup included veterinarians, dog trainers and members of animal welfare groups, and was led by Senior Minister of State for National Development, Mr Tan Kiat How, and supported by AVS. In the month-long public consultation from October to November 2021, eight in 10 respondents said the LIMA “Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive” approach should be adopted, while nine in 10 respondents agreed that training devices and techniques that cause pain, fear, anxiety and distress should be avoided. In January 2022, guidelines developed by RAWG for dog rehoming and adoption practices, as well as for dog training and behaviour rehabilitation were launched.
RAWG stakeholders had also identified gaps in the current dog training industry and PADT scheme, and potential solutions to fill these gaps. Dog trainers agreed that the current accreditation scheme needed to be reviewed to improve standards, and stakeholders also shared that internationally recognised certification schemes could be used as a benchmark for accreditation. International experts also highlighted that training methods should be science-based, humane, and that punishment-based training methods should be avoided.
Following the online consultation in 2021, AVS has incorporated feedback from the public and is developing guidelines for the use of dog training devices to ensure that dog training methods are carried out in the least intrusive and aversive manner, with an approach that is rooted in science. AVS will consult relevant stakeholders to seek further feedback on the guidelines, which are expected to be launched by 2023.
AVS will continue to forge relationships with like-minded individuals and communities to spread awareness on the science behind animal care and promote responsible pet ownership in Singapore. This is in line with the vision to transform Singapore into a City in Nature, for which community stewardship is a key thrust.
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