How to Become a member

APDT assessment procedure – what to expect.


The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) are proud of the fact that they assess all members according to strict criteria which ensures they have appropriate skills to teach dog training.

Successful candidates following assessment are invited to join the membership and are entitled to join the register of practitioners of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) as an Animal Training Instructor (ATI).

To be eligible to join the APDT, an individual must demonstrate that they meet the Standard for the role of ABTC-ATI.

This Standard is about planning and managing the training of animals. This may involve training the animal to undertake specific tasks, or more general training.

All practitioners should be familiar with the ABTC-ATI Standard and that of all other ABTC roles, so that they understand the differences between the roles and refer accordingly.

View the ABTC Practioners Info

The assessment against the ABTC-ATI Standard has two parts:


The Knowledge and Understanding (K & U)

All the Knowledge & Understanding statements must be met for successful assessment in any given role, prior to assessment of the Performance Criteria.

The Performance Criteria (PC)

Applicants will be assessed to confirm that they have the practical skills, competence, and experience to be able to effectively perform the ATI role. All the Performance Criteria must be met.


APDT prides itself on being as welcoming and accessible as possible.
Should you as a candidate require additional support please do not hesitate to speak to either the office ahead of time or the Assessors before sessions.

Membership assessment is in two parts:

Theory and Practical.

The APDT theory examination is designed to test your knowledge and understanding of animal behaviour, health & welfare, learning & training, husbandry, management & welfare legislation, and communication & instruction to level four as set out in the ABTC standards for an ATI.

You can find more information about these standards HERE.

You will be set several short-answer questions and essays to cover the following:

  • The theory, uses, effects and consequences of classical conditioning and operant conditioning, including the four quadrants.
  • Training techniques and their suitability for use.
  • Identifies punitive, forceful, or coercive equipment and the effects of using such equipment. Identifies appropriate training aids and equipment.
  • Identifies how to manage a class in a given scenario, with reasons given. To include identification of specific challenges, potential breed-related behaviours and stress triggers for class members.
  • Schedules of reinforcement, extinction, and spontaneous recovery and how these may be used to progress training, including keeping of appropriate records.
  • Discusses learning styles with regards to people, and how to effectively communicate.
  • Consider current welfare legislation, health and safety legislation and GDPR with respect to dog ownership and as an animal training instructor.
  • Stress signs and motivators of dogs and handlers in class situations.
  • Review and reflect on your own training experience and evaluate other training establishments you have visited. Provide details of CPD undertaken and write a reflective view of one piece.
  • Outlines a detailed lesson plan for the class you will conduct for your practical assessment.

You will also be required to submit the following supporting documentation:

  • A dog training venue risk assessment completed by you.
  • A copy of your pre course registration form for clients, terms & conditions and GDPR policy.
  • Two original handouts, one for an exercise being taught during the assessment (you will be advised what is to be taught) and one for an alternative exercise.

The Assessors will be looking for evidence of your Knowledge and Understanding – This Standard is at Level 4 and details of the criteria may be found HERE.

The practical examination forms part of the assessment for performance criteria as set out for the ATI standards by ABTC, which can be found HERE.

Teach a class of up to four dogs.

  • There will be up to four dogs at each assessment,
  • You are allocated 15 minutes to set up and meet your assigned handlers. 
  • You need to teach a ‘marker’, ‘down’, ‘leave’ (food or toy) and ‘loose lead walking’ from scratch using a variety of techniques.
  • The dogs/handlers are volunteers and likely to be at varying levels of ability and ages and this must be taken into account when you progress the exercises.
  • If the assessors see anything which contravenes the APDT Code of Practice (here) or believe to be potentially dangerous they will interrupt the class.
  • Assessors will be as discreet as possible during the assessment.
  • You are responsible for the safety and welfare of dogs and handlers.
  • You have between 45 minutes and one hour to deliver the class. You can request an assessor to give you a time call if needed.
  • Try to stay calm and relaxed throughout your class, and most of all enjoy it!
  • Once your class has finished, you will have about fifteen minutes to pack up your equipment. Please feel free to have a drink and make yourself comfortable before the Assessors call you in for the final part of the assessment.

Following the assessment

Your Assessors will discuss all parts of your assessment and award a score against our criteria described above with feedback.

Within two weeks of your practical you will be notified via email from the office manager of your final result.

If you have any queries about any of the above, please feel free to EMAIL the office ahead of time or speak to one of your assessors on the day – we are here to help!


Grounds for appeal

Appeals can be made on the following grounds only:

  • The assessment process has not been properly followed.
  • The assessment outcome is disputed.

The applicant should not be disadvantaged by submitting an appeal in good faith. Appeals which are judged to be vexatious, malicious, or frivolous will not be considered.


Appeal process

  • All information submitted in relation to appeals will be dealt with confidentially and will only be disclosed to those persons involved in making a decision on appeal, or as necessary to progress the appeal.
  • Intention to appeal should be submitted to the assessing organisation/body in writing within three weeks of receiving notification of the assessment outcome.
  • The applicant has six weeks from the date of intention to appeal to produce the evidence underpinning their appeal. This should include:

– Clear written evidence to show where the assessment process was not followed;


– Clear written evidence to show the basis for disputing that assessment criteria have been met.


  • The applicant is asked to ensure all submitted information is clearly labelled, easy to access and navigate.
  • The appeal documents will be considered by the original assessors and two further assessors who have declared no conflict of interest. This may mean the APDT will liaise with the ABTC to find appropriate appeals assessors.
  • Applicants will be informed of the identity of the further assessors and will be given the opportunity to indicate if they are concerned about any potential conflict of interest. Such concerns will be respected, and new assessor(s) allocated, should the applicant wish.
  • It may be felt necessary for the parties involved in the appeals process to meet. This would be best achieved by video conferencing. The meeting would be recorded with the undertaking that no recordings may be shared by any party with any party outside of the immediate appeals process. The applicant may have a chosen individual to represent, advocate for, or support them at the meeting.
  • The applicant will be sent written notification of the outcome of the appeal within six weeks of all relevant documentation having been provided to the assessing organisation/body’s office or meeting having taken place.

APDT Assessment Timeline

Step one


After booking a Theory Assessment you will receive a set of questions to be completed in writing. If this presents a problem, please reach out. 

Completed Theory work must be submitted by email within six months of receipt to for marking.

Step Two

An Assessor will be assigned, and marking completed within two weeks of submission. 

You will receive a first Theory score with detailed feedback and options to book your oral online.

Step Three

Upon receiving your marks for the Theory, you will then be able to book your Oral Theory review. This will take place online with one assessor who will record the session to enable additional assessors to review or sample for quality control if necessary. 

You need to achieve 80% or more to be invited to book your practical session.

Step Four


You will be asked to teach a class of volunteers and their puppies/dogs according to the class plan you submitted with your theory documentation.

Step Five

Following the class, you will remain on site for your in person Practical Oral Review.

Step Six

Receive results via email within two weeks of your Practical Assessment.

Benefits of becoming a Member

Many in the UK consider the Association of Pet Dog Trainers the benchmark for instructor standards.

Listing on the Association of Pet Dog Trainers website (which receives about 15000 hits per month).

Adverts/Marketing in dog magazines keeps the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in the public eye.

Use of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers logo and membership number on website and stationery.

Fellow professionals know that a member has been assessed, abides by a good Code of Practice and this is backed up by a robust complaints procedure.

Be part of the largest, assessed, dog training instructors’ membership organisation in the UK.

Support network via a members only Facebook group

‘Members only’ area on the Association of Pet Dog Trainers website.

Three magazines each year containing interesting articles, events, seminars and workshops.

Opportunity to guide Association of Pet Dog Trainers in the years to come – either by becoming part of the committee or a sub-committee, voting at the AGM or contributing to discussions.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers was a founding member of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council, which is becoming well known in the industry. Association of Pet Dog Trainers members can be listed as a ‘ Registered Animal Training Instructor’ with the ABTC in the animal (dog) training instructor section.

Am I ready for Assessment?

If you are thinking about applying for assessment to become a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, please ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I teach ‘Sit,’ ‘Down,’ ‘Stand,’ ‘Walking on a loose lead,’ ‘Leave It’ (food or toy), ‘no jumping up’ and other basic exercises in a variety of kind, fair and effective ways?
  • Can I explain and demonstrate an exercise to a class, in a way that is clear and easily understood by the whole class?
  • Can I sort out individual problems, without excluding the rest of the class?
  • Can I plan a class to allow for individual learning abilities, and varying abilities of the dogs/owners in a class?
  • Can I communicate clearly to a class and individuals?
  • Can I relate to owners on a class and individual basis?
  • Do I understand learning theory – reward, punishment, how dogs learn etc?
  • Can I recognise signs of stress in dogs and owners?
  • Do I understand what motivates dogs and owners?
  • Do I understand the necessity for ‘pre-course information’ and why it is relevant?
  • Do I understand, and adhere to, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Code of Practice?
  • Do I understand the need for different class layouts dependant on dogs and activities?
  • Do I understand the need for different equipment to be available for use during a class?
  • Do I have plans for all eventualities?
  • Can I make good use of lesson time so that the class is interesting and useful for all concerned?
  • Can I adapt my lesson plan to take into account individual needs of dogs and owners?

If you have answered ‘no’ to any of the above, then we are sorry but you are not ready for assessment. Please arrange to go on some good courses or workshops, read some more books, watch some classes and get some more experience before you apply.

The above questions reflect only the very basic requirements for membership.  Other areas will be looked at/discussed during the assessment process. We welcome new members, but they must be able to pass the criteria and it is better to delay your application than apply before you are ready and be disappointed.