Why Is Important To Work With A Qualified & Professionally Regulated Behaviourist Or Trainer?

The animal training & behaviour industry is not regulated, & can be a bit of a free-for-all. Much harm can be done through the wrong advice, leaving animals in a worse situation than where they started from, often after much time, effort, emotion & money have been spent. Linda is independently assessed & certified, & chooses to join widely-recognised, evidence-driven, up-to-date & highly thought-of professional bodies, for example Karen Pryor Academy, the Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians, the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants, all of which are working under & with the ABTC. The Animal Behaviour & Training Council aims to ensure professional standards, appropriate levels of knowledge, skill, ethics & professional conduct, so as to ensure animal welfare & consumer confidence. Many professional organisations are accredited under the ABTC umbrella, which in turn aims to be regulated & accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). The goal is to ensure that the professional you hire to train or carry our behavioural work with you & your pet is who they say they are, & are qualified to do what they claim to do, as well as being professionally monitored & accountable.  

What is a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB)?

"The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) is the leading professional society in the United Kingdom for the study of animal behaviour. The Society recognizes that the general public and others seek professional advice about the behavioural problems of animals. Certification is the means by which ASAB demonstrates to the public and to other professions, such as veterinarians, that certain individuals meet the minimum standards of education, experience and ethics required of a professional clinical animal behaviourist.
Certification is administered by the ASAB Accreditation Committee, which includes representatives from the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the International Society for Applied Ethology as well as members appointed by ASAB Council.
Certification constitutes recognition by ASAB that, to the best of its knowledge, the clinician meets the educational, experiential and ethical standards required by the Society for professional clinical animal behaviourists.
By consulting with a certified professional clinical animal behaviourist (CCAB), the client can be assured that the behaviourist is suitably qualified, has experience of treating behaviour problems, and adheres to a Code of Conduct."

For more information, please visit: www.asab.org

Do I Need To Be Referred To Inspiring Pet Teaching By My Vet?

It depends.

If you need help with a behavioural problem for your cat or dog, Inspiring Pet Teaching welcomes veterinary referrals, & works closely with veterinary colleagues. It is important to rule out, treat &/or manage any possible medical influencing factors on behaviour, & to ensure your pet is cared for in a holistic way. This means working in conjunction with your veterinary practice to ensure the best physical & emotional health. In behaviour cases, on registration with Linda, you will be asked to have a vet check, sign your vet referral form & ask your vet to refer you.

For training, or preventative cases, referral from your vet is not necessary. You may simply book your appointment with Linda, & return your registration form, without needing any input from your vet.

We are happy for you to contact us directly in the first instance. Then we can seek to understand your needs, & ascertain how to best to proceed, as well as assist with arranging your booking +/- referral.

What is positive reinforcement training?

Training with positive reinforcement means that the pet’s behaviours that we want are rewarded with something they want. In training, reinforcement is something the animal will work to gain - i.e. anything that, when combined with a behaviour, increases the likelihood that it will be performed again - like us, animals are individuals & may find different things reinforcing, so we “interview” our pets to find out what they like & are keen to work for! Modern behavioural science tells us that this is how animals (& humans) learn. This type of training is based on sound research & teaches animals what we want them to do & how to do it successfully - as opposed to punishment, which creates fear & confusion & doesn't give our pets any information about what we want from them. Correctly used, positive reinforcement training ensures that animals are treated kindly & fairly, with no stress or aversives, & that they learn in a way that creates focus, confidence & enthusiasm.

Learning is defined as a change in behaviour due to certain types of experience - so let’s make sure they’re good ones! At Inspiring Pet Teaching, we keep it positive, never using coercion, aversive or punitive methods for training as they are unkind, unfair & don’t help animals to succeed.

What is  clicker training?

Clicker training is a form of force-free, positive reinforcement training. It is a way of communicating with our pets to provide information about what’s right, i.e. that the pet has correctly performed a particular behaviour that is liked by us. The "click" is a marker - it should be instant, consistent, neutral & different from anything else the pet is likely to be familiar with, & only used in the training setting - it’s like taking a snap-shot of exactly the behaviour we want! We use this marker as a "bridge", given instantaneously during the performance of the right behaviour, & it allows timely delivery of the reward for success.

The marker is given meaning/value by pairing each click with a reward (e.g. food, fun, toy, etc) - click means "you did the right thing; a treat is on the way as a reward for being brilliant". If used appropriately, it cuts out the potential for confusion or misinformation for the pet, meaning we always “catch ‘em in the act”... of doing something good!

Clicker training can be used to teach any animal anything it is physically & mentally capable of doing.

Clicker training creates enthusiastic learners who are in control of what happens & are willing to take a chance on what will make the trainer "click", safe in the knowledge that nothing bad will happen. Because the learner has taken the initiative & intentionally performed a behaviour - training becomes a team effort, rather than "you do what I say". This tends to create a deeper understanding of learned behaviours & result in their lifelong learning. This method results in confident learners, who enjoy learning &, when applied to our pets, strengthens/deepens the human-animal bond - both sides learn & have fun together!

How should I prepare for a Behaviour consult or training Lessons?

Simply contactInspiring Pet Teaching to check availability & scheduling, fill in & return your registration form, +/- arrange to see your vet to get referred, then check the list below & you’re ready to go.

One-to-one sessions

We normally visit your home, or work "on location" or online. In the case of all meetings, please ensure that your pet has a safe, comfortable place to be before I arrive, where they can rest away from the stress/excitement of a new person, with something great to engage them, e.g. a long-lasting chew/frozen Kong™, puzzle-feeder, etc. They should feel comfortable & relaxed here, rather than frustrated or stressed. You may like to do a few "test runs" to ensure success +/- "interview your pet" to ensure the distraction you have given them is a) long-lasting/engaging enough, & b) desirable enough to keep them happy in the face of unreachable visitors. 

At your first ~2.5-hour appointment, we will consult first, before working with your pet. You may want to write down anything you’d like to discuss (it's easy to forget what you wanted to say!), collate any video, etc. & browse through check the list below to ensure you have everything you need for training before I arrive. You may like to take notes as we talk too.

Should we be meeting elsewhere, e.g. on a walk, at a hired venue, at the veterinary clinic, please bring everything you will be likely to need. If your pet is a dog, please keep your dog in the car (& stay with her/him), until we have spoken to make a plan. Linda will send you further, specific information by email - please read this carefully to help you prepare. Please also refer to the list below:

What do I need for lessons?

Below is a handy checklist of the things you will need to do/bring for training or behaviour modification sessions:

  • Treats - & plenty of them! Prepare, & have to hand, a selection of ordinary & super-delicious treats - don’t be stingy! Tiny pieces are best - try to buy or divide tasty treats into ½cm-sized pieces (no bigger than a piece of sweet corn).
  • Please don’t feed your pet too much directly before lessons - we may be using a lot of treats during the sessions, so he/she will make up for it then! (Please feel free to contact Inspiring Pet Teaching with any questions about specific needs/feeding schedules.)
  • A favourite/motivating toy - try to make it a special one, that your pet only gets to play with with you, for example.
  • A comfortable, portable rug to help settle your pet.
  • Treat pouches can be invaluable to free up your hands, & ensure you've always got something yummy nearby & easy to access.
  • For dogs, a flat collar (no choke/half-choke or prong collars please) &/or a well-fitting body harness that allows freedom of movement.
  • A strong 4-foot-ish lead appropriate to your dog’s size/weight - no flexi-leads please. You may find double-ended training lead helpful.
  • Poop bags! (Make sure your dog has had a chance to toilet immediately before class - & don’t forget to scoop!)
  • Something safe for your dog to chew, e.g. a stuffed Kong™.

  • For group classes, please enter the class one at a time in a calm & orderly way. Remember - class doesn't begin in class! Dogs learn from all experiences, so let's make sure they are learning the right things, even before they get into the classroom! Owners should come in & set up their spaces before bringing dogs in. Shy dogs should arrive a little early & come in first. We would prefer it if you don’t allow your dogs to meet & greet +/- play with +/- bark at other dogs on the way into & out of class. Even if your dog is relaxed & friendly, for medical or behavioural reasons, other dogs & owners may not feel comfortable with interaction at close-quarters - also, it could result in hyped-up wild things who cannot focus in class!

Things which are not essential, but may be useful:

  • A clicker & wrist-strap for your clicker, so it's always there when you need it!
  • A wide, secure belt +/- carbineer clip to attach you dog's lead to your waist/belt so your hands are free.
  • Any props you’d like to work with, e.g. for our Tricks classes.

Prior to your session(s), you may find this information helpful.


CCAB ​Dog Behaviourist, dog trainer CCAB

Supporting Cats, Dogs & Their People Towards Behaviour & Training Success!