Why Xtra Dog recommends The Association of Pet Dog Trainers UK


APDT logo


running ArapahoeThere are many benefits of going to a dog trainer or training class and there are many options out there. Some trainers use out-dated aversive training methods teaching dogs through fear and foce whilst others use modern science based training techniques that are kind, fair and effective. In some countries it is law that a puppy has to attend a training class and we would always advocate this as it is a great way for pups to learn to socialise with other puppies and learn basic training that will help them through their lives.

In this short article we look at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers UK (APDT), an organisation that is recommended by Xtra Dog and whose members have had to pass a rigorous assessment to show that they can teach a class, understand learning theory and abide by a code of conduct. Their student membership is made up of graduates of their training courses that combines theory with practical applications and who also have to abide by the same code of ethics as members.

The APDT, along with Xtra Dog and many other positive organisations and businesses openly condemns the use of choke chains, pinch collars, shock collars, and other aversive training equipment. Vet behaviourist Sopia Yin wrote a very interesting article that looks at equipment including choke chains. Click here to read it. The APDT , sponsored by Xtra Dog have produced a Say No To Choke Chains leaflet. Click here to view it or download it.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers was founded in 1995 by John Fisher to offer pet dog owners a guarantee of quality when looking for a puppy and dog training class in their area.

All members are required to adhere to a strict code of practice and fairly quickly dog trainers proved keen to sign up. Lists of dog trainers were made available to veterinary surgeries and enquirers were directed to local APDT UK trainers, safe in the knowledge that members adhere to this code of practice. This information - on over 500 members - is now on the Association’s website. The full code of conduct can be read below.

Members commit to keeping up to date with modern training methods which is very

important as they have to contend with the bombardment – often via the media - of outdated and often cruel training methods and equipment that unenlightened trainers still recommend. These methods can have devastating effects on the dog, and owner-dog relationship and APDT members are often left to pick up the pieces, whilst helping the unsuspecting public understand why these punitive methods have no place in modern dog training.

If a member of the public does have any reason to be unhappy about any training or dogs in snowtraining methods that are used, the APDT has a complaints procedure which ensures complaints are thoroughly investigated.

Although best known for its work with pet dogs, APDTmembers can be found instructing agility, ring-craft, obedience, Tellington TTouch, heel work to music, etc., proving that kind, fair and effective methods work well for any discipline.

When choosing a trainer, the APDT website offers some very useful advice, it is always a good thing to ask to watch a class before booking on a course click here to read the full details of their advice. 

The APDT has an incredible training programme for prospective dog training instructors. These courses take place at Moulton College in Northamptonshire over a couple of long weekends. Their foundation course is geared at people with limited or no experience instructing dog training, with a part 2 for people who have completed and passed their Foundation course. For people with experience instructing they offer the advanced course for students to hone their skills and learn new skills. All the courses involve a comprehensive reading list prior to the course, theory and practical sessions and written home work that has to be handed in. more information can be found on their website www.apdt.co.uk


Association of Pet Dog Trainers Code of Practice

This code applies to members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, UK (APDT, UK). Its purpose is to establish and maintain standards for the practice of dog training, to advise and inform veterinary surgeons and members of the public seeking dog training and to further the understanding and advancement of good practice among members.



Members shall practice with integrity and shall recognise their responsibility to clients, clients' dogs and society in general. Their actions or advice should not knowingly cause psychological or physical distress or damage to any of these.

The welfare of clients and their dogs shall be paramount and shall not be made subordinate to commercial consideration.

Members shall maintain professional relationships with their clients. They shall not exploit such relationships for improper personal, professional or financial gain, nor seek inappropriately to impose their own values on clients.

Members shall not misrepresent their activities or make unrealistic claims to their clients or in their public statements. It should be made clear whenever they are expressing personal opinion and speculative theories should be stated as such.

 Members shall respect the views and independence of others and shall not publicly denigrate their conduct or opinions.

Members shall not seek to attract business unfairly or unprofessionally or conduct their practice in any way which would discredit the reputation of the Association.

 Members are responsible for continuing their personal and professional development by undertaking further training and study and acquiring knowledge of new theory and practice.



The training methods and/or equipment advised, employed or sold by members shall be consistent with the principles of kindness and fairness to both clients and dogs. For this reason, coercive or punitive techniques and/or equipment should not be used, recommended, advertised or sold by members (Appendix 1.)

The training techniques employed and advised by members are assumed to be the application of scientifically-based research and knowledge and to result from practical experience of the use of non-compulsive methods. Where techniques are experimental, the client and, if applicable, the referring veterinary surgeon must be so informed, Members shall keep clients fully informed about the nature of and reasons for their actions and any possible risk or drawback that might arise from them. They shall not lead their clients to form unrealistic expectations of the outcome of any action or intervention.

Members shall conduct themselves in such a way as not to undermine public confidence in their profession or the Association and shall not practise when physically or psychologically unfit to do so.

Members may accept clients from a variety of referral sources or through direct advertising. Where such advertising refers to clubs or societies it should not assert or imply endorsement by the Association other than to state, where applicable, that all instructors are members. Members may use the letters APDT(UK) after their name. Members must ensure that their name and membership number appear in all advertising. The logo may not be used except in conjunction with the member's full details.

Members who work with assistants who are not members are responsible for ensuring that such assistants act responsibly towards clients and are willing to conform to the spirit of this code.



Members are required:

To agree to accept and abide by this code and to supply the Association with a signed statement to that effect.

To abide by and observe the rules, regulations and pronouncements of the Association.

To acknowledge that membership of the Association is solely for individuals and shall not be used to endorse the activities of any club, society or Organisation to which they may belong.

To carry public liability and professional indemnity insurance.

Where acceptance of clients by direct referral from veterinary surgeons shall be part of their practice, to secure and maintain full professional indemnity insurance and to supply referring veterinary surgeons with proof of such insurance, should they request it.

To be careful not to make any misleading claims or statements in advertising or otherwise.

In their endorsement or commercialisation of any product, not to use their membership to suggest that they are speaking on behalf of the Association.

Not to disclose any information about any client which comes to their notice as a result of their professional relationship with the client, or to make public any record, in any form, of their dealings with a client, except where required to do so by rule of law or where the client has consented to the nature and extent of the disclosure.

To agree to be spot checked at any time without prior notification.

Members shall do nothing to bring the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, UK into disrepute.



The committee of the Association shall advise and give directions on all matters of principle and of conduct of members and any complaint or dispute arising there from shall be dealt with by reference to the Constitution of the Association.


Membership will be terminated if a member is found guilty of cruelty or other crime(s) against an animal(s).



This code may be altered by the committee of the Association provided that the proposed alteration is notified to all members and their comments requested and duly considered by the committee.


Appendix 1

Such equipment includes check/choke chains, prong or spike collars, electric shock devices in any form, and high frequency sound devices which are designed to startle. There can never be a definitive list of equipment and techniques that the APDT UK does not permit. The following list gives examples of some of the equipment and training methods which are covered by the Code of Practice (‘Practice number 1’) not to be used in a dog training class.

 Pet corrector – emits a hiss of cold air

Dog stop – emits a high pitched sound

Remote controlled spray collars

Automatically triggered spray collars

Anti-bark collar – emits spray directed onto dogs skin (including new product jet master)

Training discs

Liquid sprays

Loud noises e.g. rattle cans/bottles/Chains/keys

Throw stick/chain

Strong smelling substances e.g. smelling salts/ bite back

Punitive methods not to be used in a dog training class


Pinching – ears/feet/toes


Biting (of dog)

‘Alpha roll’

Any manhandling that causes pain or discomfort