By Niki Tudge. January 2010

Professionals recognize that it is the right and responsibility of every individual to advance their welfare. Clients have freedom of choice and do this voluntarily when they have adequate disclosure of information regarding the services to be provided and an appropriate understanding of the circumstances and the expected results. Clients have ethical and legal rights to this information (Welfel p 157 2009).

 Clients in the companion animal behavior consulting and training relationship have the full responsibility for their animals. Professionals must fully disclose all aspects of the professional client relationship in terms of confidentiality, role of each partner in the relationship, the cost of services, payment methods, cancellation and reimbursement terms and liability and indemnity policies (O’Heare 2009).

 The companion animal and behavior professional also has to consider the vulnerability of the animal and its inability to offer informed consent. Contained within the disclosure process there must be statements regarding conflicts of interest concerned with the animal’s welfare, the behavior change methods to be employed and the parameters of confidentiality and privilege relating to local and state animal controls, ordinances and laws (O’Heare 2009). The relationship and service offerings must be fully transparent.

“Transparency means making the philosophy, practices, policies and methods available to customers, employees, or business partners” and informed consent is defined as “permission granted by the client with full knowledge of the possible consequences, both risks and benefits”. Informed consent is typically referred to in patient-doctor and behavior counselling relationships.  

 O’Heare, J. (2009) Professional Ethics 106 2009, CASI,

O’Heare, J (2009) AABP A Guide to the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals’ professional practice guidelines

Welfel, E.R, (2009) Ethics in Counseling and Psychotherapy.  Fourth Edition. Brookes Cole USA.

The DogSmith® Client, Informed Consent Statement

A DogSmith recognizes that the owner is responsible for their dog and the owner has the right to make decisions about the professional treatment of their dog.

As a DogSmith, we will always hold the dog’s welfare as our top priority. The dog is the vulnerable component in the consultation process as they cannot offer informed consent. The role of a DogSmith is one that is beneficial to the dog and never to its detriment.

We seek to do no harm. A DogSmith will not condone or endorse any treatment by a dog’s owner that is physically or mentally cruel. We will opt out of a consulting agreement rather than attempt to manage an unethical course of action.

The DogSmith will only consult with clients that offer cases that the independently owned and operated DogSmith business has the professional competence to deal with.

A DogSmith will only use procedures, protocols and training tools that are empirically based and have a proven track record. The DogSmith uses training and behavior change methods that are minimally invasive and intrusive to the animal.

A DogSmith trainer considers communications with their clients privileged. We will only break that confidentiality if a dog is being abused (as legally defined) and the client cannot be dissuaded from using their current approach. We will act according to local and state laws in terms of reporting animal cruelty.

As a DogSmith, we will apply the following ethical principles to each situation we encounter: respect for the freedom and dignity of others, do not harm, do good, act fairly and be faithful to promises made to the client.

In consideration for being accepted for training with the local DogSmith Franchise, a locally owned and operated Dog Training, Dog Walking & Pet Care business, I agree to indemnify and hold harmless The DogSmith, its employees or instructors against any and all claims or actions that may at any time be made or instituted against them by any person for the purpose of enforcing any cause of action growing out of or connected with my attendance or my dog's attendance at a private or group training session conducted by The DogSmith.

DogSmiths and their employees agree to provide services stated in this agreement in a reliable and trustworthy manner. In consideration of these services and as an express condition thereof, the client expressly waives any and all claims against The DogSmith, or its employees including claims arising from negligence.

Lesson payments are non-refundable; however credit may be given against another private lesson or other courses at the discretion of your local DogSmith.

To contact your local DogSmith® call 1-888-Dog-Smith (364-7648)