How to Become a member

Assessment Procedure


To become a full member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers you will need to take part in an assessment. You can book an assessment here.

The membership assessment process consists of three parts, written, practical and oral as highlighted below:

The written part of your assessment will be sent to you on receipt of your application form and must be returned at least eight weeks before your assessment date.

It will contain six questions which will require essay type answers of between 500 and 1500 words – covering:

  • Reward and Punishment
  • Operant and Classical conditioning
  • Equipment
  • Stress including class situations consisting of dogs with minor behavioural issues
  • Exercises you would teach in a puppy/beginner class
  • Details of training classes you have visited

You will also be asked for details of:

  • Any instructing/assisting that you have undertaken
  • Classes (if any) that you currently teach

Your answers need to reach the office at least eight weeks prior to assessment.

If (after marking your questions) the Assessors decide that you are not ready for membership you will be refunded £100 of your application fee and your assessment will be cancelled.

You will conduct a one hour class and teach:

  • Down
  • Leave (food/article)
  • Walking on a loose lead

The participating owners and dogs will be people who have volunteered to take part in a free training class for the assessment process. Some of the dogs will have been to previous training classes, whilst others will be new to the environment. It is up to the applicant to make sure all the owners feel involved in the class.

All classes will take place indoors and will be assessed by two assessors.

Immediately following your practical assessment, you will be asked to participate in the oral part of your assessment.  In this, you may be asked to clarify some points raised in your written and practical assessment and other matters relating to dog training.

There are no trick questions – the idea of the assessment is to ensure that applicants are suitable for membership of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers

All three of these sections will be scored against a criteria which will include:

  • Technical Knowledge
  • Understanding of dogs and people
  • Conforming to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Code of Practice
  • Planning and organising
  • Communication skills
  • Class Dynamics

A report will be prepared by the assessors and they will either recommend you for membership or not.

If you are not recommended it will be because the assessors are not confident that you have reached the level required by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers for membership.

This may be because you cannot demonstrate the level of knowledge/experience required, or because you employ methods which are contrary to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Code of Practice.

A good instructor needs to understand learning and behaviour theory and have the ability to relate and explain this to a class of owners.

The Assessors’ decision is final.

However if an applicant feels procedures have not been followed, or an assessment has not been marked against current criteria, an enquiry can be made.

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.