Celia Haddon - Cat Expert

Understanding animals through their behaviour


In the UK find one via the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Check their website before contacting them so you can see how they teach.  Just because a trainer has been on TV, doesn’t mean he/she is any good. You don’t see what happens after the programme ends.  Avoid the following:

  1. Trainers who say dogs are like wolves. They are not. They are a separate species.
  2. Trainers who tell you to be pack leaders and that dogs are trying to take over your leadership. These are trainers who have misunderstood the idea of dominance order (a complex idea still being studied).  Trainers like this can be seen on TV but they are simply WRONG. Don’t believe because it is on TV it is right or even acceptable. This sort of trainer is likely to tell you to do a status reduction programme or that you should take food away from your dog when he is eating. The latter can create a dangerous problem. They may believe in pinning down dogs to the floor, sometimes called an alpha roll  – a technique which is upsetting for dogs and dangerous for the humans doing it. Read more here.
  3. Trainers that bully people or are sexist to women. You won’t enjoy the experience and your dog will feel your unhappiness down the lead.
  4. Trainers that bully or punish dogs. Despite what you will see on celebrity TV dog programmes, physical punishment distracts dogs from learning. It has no place in dog training classes and may leave your dog worse than before. If they handle dogs roughly, they are not good trainers. Read why on www.dogwelfarecampaign.org.uk There seems a trend for nobodies to set themselves up as followers of particular TV “star trainers.” Avoid these.
  5. Chaotic noisy classes with a shouting trainer. Any trainer shouting at dogs is a poor trainer. There is absolutely no need to shout.
  6. Choke chains. These are called “check chains” or “slip collars” by people who use them. They work by yanking at the dog’s neck, restricting its breathing, or, in the hands of amateurs or bullies, strangling the dog. They cause neck pain and sometimes neck or throat injuries.
  7. Electric collars. These are now illegal in Wales and should be illegal in Britain. Why behave like Saddam Hussein to your best friend?
  8. Trainers that string up dogs with a choke collar or hang them over their shoulders, or swinging them round in so called “helicoptering.” Report these trainers immediately to the RSPCA or the SSPCA. They can be, and have been, prosecuted for cruelty.  Unbelievably, these thugs still exist. Indeed you will see a dog being strangled at the start of a popular TV dog training programme. It is shocking.
  9. Breeders do not necessarily know how to train dogs. Got a behaviour problem? Don’t ask a breeder, ask someone who knows. Simple problems like  pulling on the lead – ask a dog trainer at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Difficult problems – ask a behaviourist at Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors or Centre of Applied Pet Ethology
  10. Be warned – any idiot can call themselves a behaviourist and many do!  The title “Dog Whisperer” means nothing at all unless the trainer has qualifications and learned knowledge to back it up.  Avoid franchises. Some of these offer only a weekend’s training for qualification. Many of the letters you see after a bad trainers’ name will be meaningless. “Accredited” means nothing. The National Database of Accrediting Organisations will tell you if the degree or diploma comes from an invented non-accredited organisation. Nationally recognised qualifications are what you should go for.

Remember – if a trainer wants to hurt a dog, there is something wrong with the trainer. I cannot control the advertisements that appear on this website so check them out before committing your dog to their classes.


These notes are my copyright. I am also usually happy to have the exact words reproduced on websites, in return for a link, my name, and if permission is asked beforehand. I like to check the websites where it might be used. Email me via this website for permission which will usually be given. Organisations wishing to use them in print should contact me via this website. Copyright © 2007 Celia Haddon. All Rights Reserved.

Safety notice.

All normal safety precautions should be taken when dealing with animals. The advice in this section should be taken only at the owner’s own risk. All sick animals should be seen by a vet.

General advice of the kind found in this website is no substitute for an individual consultation with a vet or qualified behaviourist working on a vet’s referral.

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