New York Dog Owners/Trainers Soon to be Howling at Albany
January 7th, 2009
Albany, New York
New York District 39’s Assemblyman Jose Peralta has initiated a bill (A01540) into the New York State legislature to compel dog owners to comply with new licensing requirements, including a provision requiring them to attend and complete dog obedience training.
The Bill will also have a profound effect on Professional Dog Trainers conducting commerce in New York State; including those who participate in a wide variety of dog training disciplines from training hunting dogs, competitive obedience dogs and protection dogs as well as those who make their livelihood on the misbehaviors of man’s best friend.
This Bill is attached to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing and the provisions within it rely heavily on “…the Commissioner to establish requirements for basic obedience courses for dogs and their owners that must be completed successfully…”, all without mentioning the consequences should they (owners) be found not in compliance. In addition, the provision in 113-A requires that “…the Commissioner shall establish requirements for Dog Obedience Schools which are ‘authorized’ to provide the basic dog obedience courses for dogs and their owners…”, again all without clarifying the language that will address that authorization.
Upon contacting the Assemblyman’s office, it was implied that those “authorization prerequisites” could possibly come in the form of ‘certification’ for dog trainers in order to meet this criterion and continue to conduct commerce by offering training help to dogs and their owners in the state of New York.
Certification has long been a ‘bone’ of contention amongst the dog training community with disagreements from what qualifies a dog trainer to what would constitute a trained dog, by any standards. It has been long established that dog training has been largely unregulated and it has historically been identified as a diverse group of individuals who practice a variety of dog training disciplines.
With the recent growth of schools for Dog Trainers, professional organizations and other dog training communities, many long-time Professional Dog Trainers are feeling the heat of this pending legislation.
Up until only a few short years ago, there was no such thing as ‘certification’ for dog trainers and today its value depends largely on the certifying body, and the organization that endorses the certification.
Many Professional Dog Trainers have practiced their craft for decades, through the traditional institutions of apprenticeship and practical hands-on training, where even the most well known organization that recognizes Professional Dog Trainers (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) established in the mid ‘90’s offers only a multiple choice questionnaire and a minimal number of hands-on hours before granting a certification. The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors established in 1965, requires an essay examination of practical skill sets and video portions to identify these skill sets in order to be endorsed; the International Association of Canine Professionals established in the late ‘90’s affords a voluntary process for it’s members to elect a certification program that contains not only an essay portion, but a video portion as well as endorsements written by students of the applicant, something neither of the other organizations require.
With an inability to determine what constitutes “basic obedience” in a meaningful way, logic suggest those already in place, a certification determining the safe behavior of the dog is a far better alternative to regulating dog owners and Dog Trainers. Such an option to amend a community’s licensing requirements with “Good Dog” tests such as Rockville Maryland’s Section 3-23 “Animal Off-Leash with Permission” offers a meaningful alternative to New York’s proposed difficult to implement, difficult to enforce legislation.
Reasonable legislation can be drafted to promote responsible dog ownership without forcing impositions on already responsible men and women who own dogs and Professional Dog Trainers who offer training services without the benefit of questionable ‘certification’.
Responsible New York State dog owners cannot help but be failed by this proposal and the Professional Dog Trainers who currently serve them should not be restricted from conducting their trade by a state mandate that can only be damaging to dog owners and their dogs.
Coeur d’Lion K9 Behavior Management
Linda I Kaim
1443 Old Taneytown Rd