All members of the Association of INTODogs must agree to follow our code of practice which conforms with the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) code of practice. This code exists to ensure best practice and covers key principles that are mandatory for professionals working with dogs.
Each individual member has a professional obligation to clients and the animals in their care, as in the CAWC code 2.1. This includes other dogs and species of animals in the client’s home, as well as dogs they are specifically called upon to work with. Members have a professional obligation to their employers, to colleagues in the veterinary, behaviour and training fields, and to society as a whole. These obligations include courtesy, appropriate use of skills, clear feedback and guidance, and appropriate previously agreed-upon follow-up.
Members must be able to meet the expenses of professional aids and provisions which are necessary for safeguarding and promoting the safety, rights and comfort of both the clients and the dogs in their care. These include, as appropriate, appropriate collars, harnesses, training leads, aids such as clickers, DVDS and CDs, and rewards that are best suited to each individual dog, as outlined in the CAWC code 2.2.
CORE VALUES must include the following, applicable to the CAWC code 3:
- Knowledge of animal welfare and understanding of whether needs are being fully met; also of which measures should be taken to ensure optimum welfare.
- A high degree of competence is expected in the application of knowledge and skills and in communicating effectively with clients. It is vital that INTODogs members are respectful in all communications with and about clients, colleagues and other professionals.
- Confidentiality in all dealings with clients and colleagues regarding work in progress or that has been undertaken. In cases where information needs to be shared, e.g. with veterinary staff or through referral, client permission must first be gained.
- Effective provision for meeting the needs of clients and the animals in their care is vital. This includes accurate assessment, clear communication, demonstration if necessary, an action plan that is tailored to meet the needs of the client and animals, and reliable follow-up for continued assessment.
- Integrity is vital for gaining the trust of clients and allowing effective work to be accomplished. Members must be honest in all dealings with clients, colleagues and the public. The “positive”, force-free methods that form the foundation for INTO Dogs membership must be explained, if necessary, and adhered to.
- Legality. An understanding of dog law is vital, along with an understanding of how to ensure that clients comply with the current laws and keep themselves, their dogs and members of the public safe. INTODogs members must show proof of insurance, including public liability insurance, as evidence that they are legally covered in their field of work.
SERVICE TO THE CLIENT.
All members of INTODogs must provide value for service for their clients. Members of INTODogs must agree with the client on which services they will provide and the form these will take. Services include assessing the client’s wishes, needs and goals, being realistic about what can potentially be achieved to meet these, and using their best efforts, skills and experience to accomplish the work they have been enlisted to do. Fees for consultations must be stated and agreed upon in advance so that clients understand the level of financial commitment that will be involved. Follow-up reports and feedback must be delivered within the time frame agreed upon during the consultation. Further guidance during the agreed time frame should be arranged during the first consultation, including options for the client to phone or email for further information after consultations.
This applies to all dealings with clients, colleagues, referrals and the Association of INTODogs, and includes reports, write-ups and client feedback. INTODogs reserves the right to randomly contact clients to ensure that they are receiving the service they have enlisted.
All members of INTO Dogs must undertake regular Continued Professional Development, and at least 40 hours CPD sessions are required annually. These can take the form of in-person seminars and courses, and online seminars and webinars. All CPD must be logged with our Membership Secretary and kept on file.
CAWC Code 4.
The Association of INTODogs and its individual members have a duty to (4.1) ensure that the Code of Conduct is readily available to members and clients through prominent display on the INTODogs website, and is displayed either in full on individuals’ websites or with a link to the INTO Dogs Code of Conduct page. A printed copy may be given to clients during the initial consultation, if required.
All members must work within the legal framework of the country in which their services are being employed. This necessitates a thorough understanding of the dog laws and animal welfare laws of that country (4.2).
All members must safeguard and promote the welfare of others (4.3), especially the client, the animal, other animals in the home, family members, guests to the client’s home, delivery workers and utility workers, and the public. Each member must also take measures to ensure their own safety during consultations or training sessions. All possible steps must be taken to ensure that clients are aware of which steps need to be taken and adhered to in order to keep themselves, their animals, and other humans safe.All members must work in the best interests of each animal and the people responsible for the animal’s care, and must take steps to ensure that no harm is caused to the animal or client through the approach used or guidance given (4.4). Members must take care to avoid any violation of professional boundaries, to act with integrity at all times, and to refrain from criticism of the client and other professionals that could be damaging to client-professional relationships or to the professional standing of others.
Members must treat all other members of INTODogs or associated organisations with respect and professional courtesy, and bring any breach or grievance directly to the committee. Personal attacks or commentary on others will not be tolerated. Any grievance or criticism of the INTOdogs organisation must be addressed to the Chair. Any public criticism of the organisation, committee or individual member may be deemed as gross misconduct.
Members must employ their professional knowledge, experience, research and CPD to contribute to the discipline and field of animal behaviour, psychology and training (4.5). It is important that high standards of practice are maintained individually, and that these are actively encouraged through interactions with other practitioners and colleagues in related fields. Members should further contribute by sharing their knowledge and experience in order to expand the education and training of colleagues and students.
Members must ensure that no discrimination takes place in their dealings with clients, colleagues and the public, and that they do not act out of prejudice against any person or group, regardless of origin, age, ethnicity, gender, status, sexual orientation, and disability 4.6).
Members must be transparent, honest and accurate regarding their qualifications, experience, competence, achievements and affiliations (4.7). Members who have a website should display their qualifications and any specialities regarding areas of work or of interest on their websites. Qualifications should be shown directly to clients on request.
Members should only accept work that is within their existing qualifications, skills and capabilities, or when a specific programme to attain the required skills has been undertaken (4.8). If in any doubt about their capability to provide an effective service to a client, members should refer the client to another professional who has the necessary skills and experience.
Members must actively encourage clients to seek other forms of professional treatment if behaviour modification or training is not the most appropriate means of treating the condition or problem (4.9). The first consultation with a client should be undertaken after preliminary veterinary checks to ensure that any behaviour issue does not have a medical cause. If referral is necessary, members should take steps to ensure that the client understands the reason for this.
Members must regularly maintain and extend competence in order to provide a quality service that is accountable and is recorded by the INTODogs Membership Secretary (4.10). Each individual must appraise themselves of, and study, new methods and techniques in order to extend experience and knowledge.
Members must provide honest and reliable written (where appropriate) assessments, opinions and feedback, whilst remaining objective and non-judgemental towards clients and other professionals (4.11). If an action plan is agreed upon with the client during a consultation, each member must provide this in writing within a specified time frame agreed upon during the consultation.
Members must take appropriate action, such as referral to another professional, if physical or mental health, or any other factor is likely to interfere with judgement or performance of duty (4.12).
When making any statements, members must clarify whether they make these as private individuals or as representatives of the Association of INTODogs or any other organisation (4.13). If a member is making a statement on behalf of INTODogs, permission must first be sought for this from the Membership Secretary or Chair so that we can be assured that the representation is in accordance with our principles and code of ethics.
Records must be kept by the Membership Secretary of all complaints and the actions taken to deal effectively with these (4.14), in accordance with the INTODogs Complaints Procedure. Should mediation be necessary, this must be sought as early in the complaints process as possible to ensure swift resolution.
All members must hold appropriate and adequate third party, as well as professional indemnity and public liability insurance, and any other insurance necessary that corresponds to the work and the activities undertaken (4.15).
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Each individual member must be alert to, and guard against, all possibility of any conflict of interest which may affect their ability to exercise discretion in their work or may lead to any bias in their judgement (5). In the event that any conflict of interest may be present, the member must refer the client to another professional who is not affected by this.
Individual members must not take any action without the informed consent of their clients, unless they are required by law to take steps to protect the animal, the person or any other from the risk of coming to harm (6).
Should it be necessary to disclose any information to a third party, consent to disclose this must first be obtained from the client before any information is shared outside of the confidential relationship between the client and the practitioner (7). Any disclosure of information must be made only with the client’s written permission unless there are overriding legal, safety or ethical considerations. This includes information given during a referral process to another professional.
Confidential records must be kept for all clients, and written guidance in the form of action plans or general advice should be provided to clients. This must comply with the Data Protection Act and all members must follow the data protection principles (8). Information must be used lawfully for limited, specifically stated purposes, in a way that is adequate, relevant and accurate. All records must be kept safe and secure and handled according to clients’ protection data rights. Records should not be transferred outside the UK without adequate protection. Clients have the right to see their records if requested.
The Membership Secretary of INTODogs maintains and updates records of members’ qualifications and CPD.
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
In order to maintain, develop and enhance practitioner skills, members must undertake appropriate CPD on a regular basis (9). This must be recorded by the individual and confirmation of each CPD session, seminar, webinar or course must be sent to the Membership Secretary. Individuals are also encouraged to reflect on their own professional practice and assess which areas need additional study or focus. INTODogs will hold optional monthly webinars for members on a variety of related subjects from June 2015. It is expected that members will undertake to complete a minimum of six CPD sessions each year.
Members must be honest and clear in any form of advertising (10.1) and take steps to avoid misleading or deceiving potential clients by making sensational, unrealistic or unsubstantiated claims. They must not create unrealistic expectations about the length of time in which successful results will be seen. Members must not criticise or disparage the work or characters of other individuals or organisations.
Members must not sell or recommend any product, service or individual service providers without first being satisfied that this would benefit the client and animal in their care. Practitioners must be suitably qualified and experienced before making any such recommendations (10.2).
Should any recommendations be made for products, services or individual service providers, the member must disclose to the client if any commercial benefit is gained by the practitioner as a result of this. Members must not allow financial interest to influence their choice of provision, service, care or treatment to the detriment of the animal or service user (10.3).
Transparency in the terms and conditions, fees and charges that members provide is mandatory (10.4). When possible, these must be agreed with the client in advance and confirmed in writing.
Note: All membership is given at the discretion of the committee. All membership and accreditation can be removed at the discretion of the committee at any time, without warning or reason, with any fees reimbursed pro rata.