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APDT Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility

Adopted December 4, 2003

gavel and law booksThe APDT created the Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility (the "Code") to set forth aspirations and guidelines for APDT members of all levels to provide outstanding service and pursue continuing education. It is the hope of the APDT that the Code will also provide owners of pet dogs with the confidence that APDT trainers are knowledgeable, caring and conscientious and will help them achieve their training goals through the use of dog-friendly training.

As a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), I will strive to:

  • Provide honest, professional services of the highest standards.
  • Develop and apply training programs in line with the APDT’s mission of advocating dog-friendly training.
  • Assess my own knowledge, experience and qualifications and work within my professional limits.
  • Continue professional development by reading relevant material; attending conferences, workshops and seminars; and pursuing other educational opportunities.
  • Treat all dogs and clients with respect, taking into account their physical and psychological well-being and respecting clients’ wishes regarding the training of their dogs.
  • Refrain from representing dog training and behavioral information as scientific, unless the information is derived from legitimate research.
  • Refrain from giving guarantees regarding the outcome of training, because there is no sure way to guarantee the cooperation and performance of all parties involved and because the knowledge of animal behavior is incomplete. This should not be confused with a desire to guarantee client satisfaction with professional services.
  • Respect the privacy of my clients and hold in confidence all information obtained in the course of professional services, unless otherwise agreed upon in advance. I will use discretion in revealing information regarding dogs displaying potentially dangerous behavior.
  • Incorporate what it means to be a responsible dog owner into training programs.
  • Be respectful of colleagues and other professionals and not falsely condemn the character of their professional acts.

While the Code sets forth aspirations, and not obligations, any APDT member who is found to have been found civilly liable for or convicted of charges involving:

  • cruelty, abuse or neglect to animals or humans;
  • crimes against humanity including but not limited to any violent crimes (i.e. murder, kidnapping), assault or endangerment of the lives of others;
  • burglary, robbery, arson;
  • business fraud, plagiarism or copyright infringement, slander or libel, shall have his/her membership terminated immediately as provided by the APDT by-laws.

Member applicants who are found to have been convicted of any of these crimes will have their applications denied. Such applicants are welcomed and encouraged, however, to take advantage of the review and appeal process to present evidence of rehabilitation that may be sufficient to reverse the denial.

Furthermore, any APDT member who represents him or herself as an official spokesperson for the APDT without prior written approval of the Board of Trustees shall have his/her membership terminated immediately as provided by the APDT by-laws.

The relationship between dog trainers and veterinarians must be cooperative for the benefit of dogs and their people. It is required that APDT members understand that medical diagnosis, prognosis, prescription of, or recommendations for, administering medication are all part of veterinary medicine and not the dog training profession.  Any and all suspected medical problems must be referred to a veterinarian before beginning or continuing a relationship with a client. 

Finally, if any member is found to be acting in a manner that is egregiously inconsistent with this Code or the general mission of APDT, APDT shall have the right to terminate his/her membership after a fair and reasonable adjudication.

Any member or member applicant who wishes to appeal the termination of his/her membership or refusal of his/her membership application and have APDT reconsider its action may do so by providing relevant information to a committee appointed by the Board of Trustees. This committee shall review the relevant information in a timely manner and provide the member/member applicant with a determination based on its findings.

Adopted by Board action on December 4, 2003
Effective date January 1, 2004

Process for reviewing allegations of misconduct and appeal of decisions

The Code and process for complaints and appeal are to be openly published on the APDT website and reported annually in the association journal, Chronicle of the Dog.

Members or non-members may file reports of alleged violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Conduct.

Initial review and action:

Reports of alleged violations are to be given to the APDT Executive Director who will:

  • Immediately acknowledge receipt of the report without comment. However, if it is apparent on the face that the alleged incident or action would not be a violation of the Code then the person filing the report will be advised that an investigation will not be pursued unless further facts or evidence come to light.
  • Advise the person filing the report that documentation concerning the allegations is needed and that the report will be held confidential throughout the investigative period.
  • Collect such information and data as is reasonably available concerning the allegations.
  • Upon completion of an initial investigation, the Executive Director will review all pertinent information with association counsel. If they agree that there is no evidence of a violation of the Code or that insufficient evidence exists to proceed then they will advise the person filing the initial report that the file is being closed pending future developments.
  • However, if counsel and the E.D. agree that there are grounds for possible action against a member under terms of the Code then the E.D. will advise the member accused of the general allegations and issues and offer an opportunity for comment and reply.

Review and action by special Tribunal:

Following receipt of information from the accused the E.D. will advise the President of the Board who will appoint a special three member Tribunal composed of directors.

  • The Tribunal members will be presented with all information and evidence obtained. Their duty will be to review all information and make a determination of any action that should be taken within 90 days of receiving the complaint. If they determine during the course of their investigation that additional time is needed, they shall notify all parties to the complaint of such time extension prior to the expiration of the 90-day period. Throughout their deliberation they may continue to investigate, gather information and consult legal counsel.
  • The Tribunal is empowered to make a decision concerning sanctions against a member for violation of the Code. The accused member will be immediately advised of the decision and shall have 30 days in which to file an appeal and all supporting material.

Appeal to the Board

If the member exercises his/her right of appeal, the full Board of Trustees will review the information and determine if the decision of the Tribunal is to be upheld or reversed. This process of appeal is also available to individuals who have been denied membership in the association. The Board shall have 30 days from the presentation of an appeal in which to make their decision. This deadline may be extended with notice to all parties.


Throughout the course of the investigation and final decision, the names of the accuser and accused shall remain confidential within the files of APDT. Only the final decision of the Tribunal, or Board in the case of an appeal, may be released to the members at large. Notice of a final decision will be published in the next available issue of the association journal.

Adopted by Board action on December 4, 2003
Effective date January 1, 2004


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