First Published June 15, 2020

The Pet Professional Guild Code of Ethical Conduct


The Pet Professional Guild recognizes the need for a level of oversight in the pet training and services industry, specifically regarding business practices, transparency, and marketing.

The professional growth and improvement of the pet training and services industry depends upon a recognition that the varied sectors found within the industry must be based, first and foremost, on a respect for the animals in our care, the people we serve, and our colleagues.

This means Pet Professional Guild members must continually seek to establish the highest ethical standards by adhering to the organization’s Guiding Principles and satisfying the needs of their clients in a professional, proficient, and ethical way. Acceptance of and adherence to this Code of Ethical Conduct is an eligibility requirement for Pet Professional Guild members.

Application of the Code

The Code of Ethical Conduct applies to all member levels of the Pet Professional Guild and commits all members to comply fully with the standards, codes, rules and procedures of the organization.

Please note that a lack of knowledge about or misunderstanding of this code is not in itself a defense against a breach of ethical conduct.

Pet Professional Guild Members’ Personal Code of Conduct

  1. Members consider the emotional, physical and environmental well-being of each client, i.e. both the pet and the guardian/owner/caretaker of the pet, in all actions.
  1. Members do not condone or endorse any treatment by a pet’s guardian that in any way compromises the pet’s physical or mental well-being. Pet Professional Guild members will not be party to any such acts.
    • If a guardian insists on any treatment that in any way compromises the pet’s physical or mental well-being, it is the member’s duty and responsibility, after discussion with the guardian, to terminate the relationship if agreement cannot be reached.
    • Members must opt out of a consulting agreement rather than attempt to manage an unethical course of action.
  1. Members consult within the boundaries of their own competence.
    • Members will refer to like-minded professionals whose knowledge and/or skill level is appropriate to the needs of the individual training or behavior case.
  1. Members do not attempt or speak to or diagnose any illness or make any references to a diagnosis or medical treatment.
    • Members will always recommend to the pet’s guardian that any problem related to illness or the possible need for diagnosis will be referred to an appropriate veterinary professional.
  1. Members use procedures, protocols, and training tools that are empirically based and have a proven track record.
    • To this end, it is the member’s duty and responsibility to pursue ongoing education and to remain fully knowledgeable of current best practices and research.
  1. Members recognize that guardians are responsible for their pets and therefore have the right to make decisions about the professional treatment of their pets.
    • Members are bound to honor the guardian’s wishes or may choose to withdraw from the consultation should opinions conflict.
  1. Members ensure that all communications are professional and based on fact.
    • Members ensure that all communications are clear to the client by using plain language or by ensuring adequate explanation of terms used.
    • Members also ensure that all communications are considered confidential unless required by law to be shared with appropriate authorities.
      • Members seek clients’ written permission if information, including but not limited to photos, videos, persons associated with clients and/or their pets, is to be shared with other professionals. Client anonymity is essential if client case studies are to be used for educational purposes.
      • Confidentiality may only be breached in such cases where animal cruelty or welfare laws are contravened and the client cannot be dissuaded from using their current approach with immediate effect.
  1. Members discuss, disagree with, or recommend industry practices and trends based on best practice and current scientific literature.
    • Members may disagree with other members’ methods and/or their practices, but they must refrain from ad hominem attacks.
    • Members ensure communication with colleagues and clients remains informed, objective, and civil.


Business Practices

  1. Members agree to adhere to the Pet Professional Guild’s Guiding Principles and the non-negotiables stated therein. Members also agree to the Best Practices laid out in the definitions of “force” and “force-free.”
  1. Members ensure that consent from a guardian to work with their pet is informed by clear explanations of the nature and purpose of the methods and/or equipment they intend to use. Similarly, members ensure that they offer explanations and answer questions as to why they will not use or recommend certain methods and/or equipment. This includes:
    • Making clear the proposed frequency, expected duration and potential financial commitment for the work to be carried out by the member for the client.
    • Fully explaining the training philosophy that will be used when working with the pet.
    • Answering questions from pet guardians with regards to the specific training plan and any other training approaches as raised by the client.
    • Holding transparent and professional discussion with the client on any and all risks or dangers related to any potential training approaches, tools, techniques, and/or applications as well as any consequent or subsequent physical or emotional fallout that may occur.
    • Informing the guardian of their right to refuse certain equipment, methods, or techniques and their ability to offer informed consent.
    • Informing the client that, based on developments or progress, the training plan and/or outcome goals may need to be modified.
    • Informing the guardian that no guarantees can be offered regarding the outcome of the training or behavior program due to the nature of applied animal behavior and limiting factors around the pet guardian such as time commitment, family circumstances, management practices and other environmental factors.
    • Informing the guardian that any change in methods or equipment will not be undertaken before discussion with and approval by them.
    • Informing the guardian of his/her right to terminate the contract at any time.
  1. Members must not lay claim, directly or indirectly, to qualifications, competencies, or affiliations they do not possess.
    • Only current approved members in good standing may use the Pet Professional Guild name, logos, membership badges or lay claim to Pet Professional Guild
  1. Members agree to carry professional liability insurance and ‘Care, Custody and Control’ coverage where available and mandated by local requirements.
  1. Members act legally, ethically, and morally in all personal and business standings; including abiding by local, state, and federal laws regarding animal cruelty and all business practices, including personal conduct both within their business operations and with the general public at large. Members will obey the law of the land in which they operate.
  1. The Pet Professional Guild prohibits and will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind and is committed to the principle of equal opportunity for all employees, members, volunteers, and contractors. The Pet Professional Guild is committed to providing a business and work environment free of discrimination and harassment. All Pet Professional Guild business decisions are based on its business needs, mission, Guiding Principles, job requirements and individual qualifications, without regard to race, color, religion, or belief; national, social, or ethnic origin; gender, sex (including pregnancy, gender reassignment, and maternity), age, physical, mental or sensory disability; HIV status, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression; marital, civil union, or domestic partnership status; past or present military service; family medical history or genetic information, family or parental status; or any other status protected by law. Any reported violations of this policy will be vigorously investigated under the Pet Professional Guild ’s ethics review process.
  1. Members will work with their clients to develop realistic, measurable, achievable outcome and behavior change goals for both the pet and the guardian regarding the training program and its planned and intended results.
  1. Members recognize and accept that their marketing and business practices implemented may significantly impact guardians and their pets – emotionally, environmentally, physically, and psychologically. As such, members agree that it is imperative they operate to a high standard of moral code in terms of business transparency and consumer protection. Members agree to be honest and transparent in their business marketing. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Making accurate statements in a clear and transparent manner and not misleading the public regarding their service philosophy and training methods.
    • Openly stating their professional philosophy, methods, and choice of operational equipment used and recommended to the client.
    • Displaying all up-to-date and valid credentials and industry affiliations in an obvious and transparent manner.
  1. Members will deal fairly with each other in the dissemination of professional information and advice at all times, including but not limited to:
    • Emails
    • Social media.
    • Blog posts.
    • Podcasts
    • Interviews
    • Published articles.
  1. Members will ensure that, for each credential level displayed in their Pet Professional Guild membership listing and in their own marketing material, they are up-to-date on the requisite continuing education units (CEU), when required, for each specific credential.
  1. Members agree to rely on up-to-date science, within the permits of the Pet Professional Guild’s Guiding Principles and rather than hearsay, myth, misconception, and misinformation, to lead the charge on how they will be performing their services.
  1. By joining the Pet Professional Guild, members agree to the Pet Professional Guild’s standards, codes of practice, education and training philosophies. Failure to abide by the Guiding Principles and this Code of Ethical Conduct may result in sanctions up to and including the termination of the member’s membership.


Ethics Review Process 

The ethical review process for Pet Professional Guild members can be found on the PPG website