New CEN publication defines skills and competences required by professional dog trainers and instructors 

Brussels, 22 January 2016 - CEN has published a document that sets out minimum requirements in terms of the knowledge, skills and competences required by professional dog trainers and instructors. The CEN Workshop Agreement on 'Dog training professionals - Knowledge, skills and competence requirements' (CWA 16979:2016) was developed by experts from several different European countries who are members of the CEN Workshop 'Competences for dog training professionals' (CEN/WS 078). 

Across Europe, it is estimated that more than 500,000 people are working as dog trainers, instructors and operators. However, a study on the situation of the European canine sector found that this sector is characterized by multiple organizations and associations with different approaches in terms of dealing with professional qualifications for dog trainers, instructors and operators. This context highlights the need for a common and harmonized approach regarding the cross-border recognition and acceptance of such qualifications.

The new CEN Workshop Agreement on 'Dog training professionals - Knowledge, skills and competence requirements' (CWA 16979:2016) provides minimum reference criteria and essential competence requirements in terms of knowledge and skills for a dog training professional working in the main operational/training, behavioural, assistance and sports areas. This document represents the result of work carried out in 2015 by members of the CEN Workshop 'Competences for dog training professionals' (CEN/WS 078), including experts from several different European countries (such as Belgium, Germany, Italy and Portugal) representing various private and public organizations active in the canine sector, from assistance dogs to rescue dogs.

Assistance dog in a supermarket

PHOTO: Assistance dogs can improve the quality of life for people with motor disabilities (© Hachiko vzw)

CWA 16979:2016 sets out minimum competence requirements for dog training professionals, with particular attention to aspects relating to professional behaviour and ethics. Starting from the main tasks a dog training professional should be able to perform, the document defines the relevant skills and knowledge requirements. It also addresses the need for regular updating and continuous improvement of professional competences, by means of a 'lifelong learning' approach.

The CEN Workshop 'Competences for dog training professionals' (CEN/WS 078) was chaired by Cinzia Marconi (President of FCC - Formatore Cinofilo Certificato) from Italy. Referring to CWA 16979:2016, Mrs Marconi said: "This consensus-based document will contribute to improving the quality of dog training professionals' activities, leading to better services for consumers. It will also bring benefits in relation to the protection and welfare of dogs, which is especially relevant in terms of ethical principles that should always be taken into careful consideration."

Stakeholders have responded positively to the publication of CWA 16979:2016. "Finally great guidelines and possibly in the near future a very much needed quality label for dog training professionals, for the benefit of so many ‘best friends’ and all humans," said Caroline Thienpont,  Founder and Head Trainer of HACHIKO – a not-for-profit organization in Belgium, which educates assistance dogs for people with motor disabilities or suffering from epilepsy.

Barbara Schöning, who is member of ESVCE (European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology) and GTVMT (German Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology), said: "CWA 16979 is the first European level document that deals with dog training professionals’ knowledge, skills and competences. It defines requirements that all dog trainers should aim to meet in their education and daily work, and sets a benchmark of what is required in order to train dogs effectively and in way that guarantees their welfare. Furthermore, it identifies which knowledge and skills should be taught to dog owners, thereby ensuring dogs’ long term welfare."

Notes

CEN Workshop Agreements (CWAs) are consensus-based specifications, drawn up in an open 'Workshop' environment. The development of a CWA is fast and flexible, with an average time frame of around 12 months from the launch of the Workshop to the publication of the agreement. A CWA does not have the status of a European Standard and National Standardization Bodies are not obliged to adopt it at national level.

The CEN Workshop Agreement 'Dog training professionals — Knowledge, skills and competence requirements' (CWA 16979:2016) was developed by the CEN Workshop 'Competences for dog training professionals' (CEN/WS 078). This document provides minimum reference criteria and essential competences requirements in terms of knowledge and skills for a dog training professional working in the main operational/training, behavioural, assistance and sports areas.

All CEN Workshop Agreements (CWAs) and other CEN deliverables can be obtained via CEN’s National Members, Affiliates, and Partner Standardization Bodies (see the CEN website).

 

 

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