I'm thinking about starting a training club. How do you go around about it, and what are the rules and regulations that you need to start one?
Danny Cooper, by email
Val Harvey, chairman of the APDT UK advises…
The first thing you need to do is learn to be a Dog Training Instructor (ie someone who teaches people to train their dogs). People often think that because they have trained their own dog, they can set up classes. However, training your own dog, and teaching other people to train theirs requires different skills. Of course you need to
understand how to train the various exercises, but you also need to know how to successfully share that information with other people, both adults and children. People learn in different ways, and dogs also learn in different ways. You cannot say “this is how I teach a ‘down’” and expect that every owner will be able to teach their dog using that method. Most dogs might, but some won’t. You have to understand learning theory, why some things work better than others. You need to know about reinforcement schedules, progression of exercises, what to do when things go wrong etc.
For an idea of what is involved in the role of Dog Training Instructor look at www.abtcouncil.org.uk/practitioner-standards.html#2. Where it says ‘animal’ you should read ‘dog’. There is a lot to the role, not just being able to train a dog. You might want to also look at www.apdt.co.uk – details there of ‘what to look for in a class’.
Once you are a competent Instructor then you need to look for a suitable venue to hold classes. This may be indoors or outdoors – a private paddock, or a village hall, for example. This venue has to be safe, easily cleanable and large enough for the dogs to carry out the activities you are planning to take into your class. You will need to do a risk assessment of the venue as you have a duty of care to the people and dogs who come to your classes. You need Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance. You might need an accountant. If you have staff working for you, they also need insurance, PAYE and NI and possibly there are other work related requirements.
My advice – please do not think about setting up classes until you have learnt how to be a good Dog Training Instructor.