Code of Ethics


The Canine & Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA) has established this Code of Ethics to uphold professional standards for its Members, Associates, and Fellows who are Canine and Feline Practitioners (CFP’s). This code outlines the principles and expectations that guide our members in their practice and primarily for the pet owning public. For the purposes of clarity CFP’s will be refereed to as Behaviour Practitioners

Legality and Ethical Framework:

  • All dog behaviour methodologies must conform to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and all related laws in England & Wales and Scotland.
  • The CFBA endorses Operant Conditioning Science as a basis for it’s practice both positive and negative.

Referral and Patient Welfare:

  • Behaviour Practitioners are authorised to accept patients by referral from veterinary surgeons and other professional bodies, such as KC and Welfare Societies.
  • The welfare of the patient and client is always the primary consideration.

Insurance and Legal Compliance:

  • Behaviour Practitioners are required to maintain adequate insurance, including Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance, to cover any liabilities they may incur.
  • Members are expected to operate within the boundaries of the law, and any violation of the law will result in the withdrawal of membership and support.

Responsibility to Patients, Clients, and the Public:

  • Techniques and advice provided by Behaviour Practitioners should not knowingly cause avoidable psychological, physical distress, or harm to patients, clients, or the general public.
  • The treatment approach must be consistent with the breed type and temperament of the dog or cat.

Professional Behaviour and Informed Clients:

  • Behaviour Practitioners base their techniques of behaviour modification on the knowledge and practical experience of leading behaviour practitioners in the UK.
  • Clients should be fully informed about the nature and reasons for the methods used, along with any potential drawbacks. Behaviour Practitioners should not create unrealistic expectations, especially in theories as compared to practical outcomes.

Client Confidentiality and Privacy:

  • Information acquired from clients is confidential. Any use of photography, video, or tape recordings must have the client’s consent.
  • When using case studies for teaching or advancing knowledge, client anonymity must be maintained, and written permission should be obtained.

Pharmacology Drugs and Professional Relationships:

  • Members cannot use or recommend the use of mind-altering drugs on cats or dogs for behaviour modification, except when recommended by a veterinarian for exceptional circumstances (in the best interest of the animal).
  • Behaviour Practitioners must maintain professional relationships with clients and ensure that any non-CFBA assistants in their practice also adhere to this code of practice.

Species Discipline and Membership Fees:

  • Successful applicants can only practise within the specific species discipline for which they have been assessed and provided documentary evidence.
  • Membership fees must be paid in advance, with renewal fees due one month before the expiry date of membership.

Value of CFBA Membership:

  • CFBA membership signifies professionalism and experience in the field of dog and cat behaviour and Psychology.
  • Members are recognized as qualified dog trainers, well-versed in all aspects of dog care, control, and education. This is critical in managing aggressive dogs.

Pet Insurance Cases and the Client:

  • CFBA members are registered with relevant Pet Insurance Companies, allowing clients to use their policies for dog and cat behaviour cases.
  • Clients with a veterinary referral can apply to their insurance company for coverage of consultations and subsequent behaviour advice/techniques, subject to the insurance company’s policies.

Information and Influence:

  • The CFBA keeps members informed about the latest developments in the science of psychology, dog and cat behaviour, and new dog training techniques related to behaviour problem-solving which is always displayed on the CFBA web site
  • The CFBA website may feature articles and information from members, subject to discretion and conditions.

Advocacy and Representation:

  • The CFBA serves as a voice for the profession, offering advice to the pet industry, local government, charities, and welfare organisations.
  • Members have a say in influencing new legislation that may impact their work. We also work with other organisation and also follow the guidelines of the Pet Education Training and behaviour Council.

Television and Radio Engagement:

  • CFBA members often serve as experts on dog and cat programs, news segments, and media consultations, making the CFBA the market leader in media information.

CFBA Student Membership:

  • Students from CIDBT or CFBA are not considered approved Associate or Full members of the CFBA.

Use of CFBA Logo:

  • Members or Associates may use the CFBA logo as per the rules of membership outlined in the CFBA code of ethics herein. Once not a member it is illegal under criminal law to use the CFBA logo in any marketing.

Termination of Membership:

  • The CFBA retains the right to refuse or terminate membership at any time.
  • Professional misconduct includes various violations, and members found guilty of such misconduct may be dismissed from the CFBA.

Understanding and Agreement:

  • Applicants must understand and agree to the CFBA’s standards, codes of practice, education, and training philosophy which is in the online form you completed and agreed to the codes and ethics.
  • Applicants engaged in more than 50% security-type work/protection dog work are ineligible for CFBA membership, unless an exception is granted by CFBA directors.

This Code of Ethics is mandatory and serves as a guide for members, setting high standards and expectations for the practice of canine and feline behaviour. Adherence to these principles is fundamental to maintaining the integrity and professionalism of CFBA members.

According to the terms outlined in this Code of Ethics, it is mandatory for members to respond to any correspondence email and or letter marked as “Most Important response required” within a time frame of 14 days from the date of receipt. This obligation is fundamental to the membership agreement and reflects our commitment to effective communication and collaboration within the association.

It is incumbent on the member to inform the CFBA in writing any changes of their email, telephone number and or address (bank details or changes ) to maintain communications with the administration office of the CFBA.

Client complaint procedure:

In the interest of fostering positive relationships and maintaining the integrity of the business-client dynamic, it is often advisable for a complainant to return to the behaviourist provider in an attempt to resolve disputes amicably. Direct engagement with the behaviourist allows for clear communication, facilitates a better understanding of the issue at hand, and offers the opportunity for mutually beneficial resolutions.

Dealing with dog behaviour problems can indeed be a complex and sometimes frustrating process. Despite the efforts of behaviourists and dog owners alike, achieving desired outcomes may not always be straightforward. Here’s an overview of why this might be the case and how to approach it:

  1. Individual Differences: Just like humans, dogs have unique personalities, backgrounds, and temperaments. What works for one dog may not work for another, even if they exhibit similar behaviours. Understanding and addressing these individual differences can require patience and flexibility.
  2. Root Causes: Behaviour problems in dogs can stem from a variety of underlying factors, including genetics, past experiences, health issues, and environmental influences. Identifying the root cause of a behaviour problem is crucial for developing effective solutions. However, uncovering these root causes may require time-consuming observation, experimentation, and sometimes even professional intervention.
  3. Consistency and Patience: Changing behaviour patterns takes time and consistency. It’s essential for dog owners to remain patient and committed to implementing behaviour modification techniques consistently over the long term. This consistency is key to reinforcing positive behaviours and discouraging negative ones.
  4. Communication Challenges: Dogs communicate primarily through body language and behaviour, which can sometimes be misinterpreted by humans. Additionally, dogs may not always understand or respond to human cues or commands in the way we expect. Effective communication between dogs and their owners requires understanding and patience on both sides.
  5. Human Factors: In many cases, behaviour problems in dogs are influenced by the behaviour and actions of their human caregivers. Inconsistencies in training methods, lack of clear boundaries, and unintentional reinforcement of undesirable behaviours can all contribute to the persistence of behaviour problems.
  6. Complexity of Solutions: Behaviour modification plans for dogs often involve multiple components, including training exercises, environmental management, behaviour shaping, and sometimes medical intervention. Implementing these multifaceted solutions can be challenging and may require ongoing support from a qualified behaviourist or trainer.
  7. Acceptance of Limitations: Despite a behaviourists best efforts, it’s important to acknowledge that not all behaviour problems in dogs can be completely eliminated or resolved. In some cases, management strategies may be necessary to minimise the impact of certain behaviours rather than attempting to eradicate them entirely.

Overall, dealing with dog behaviour problems requires a combination of patience, understanding, and a willingness to adapt strategies based on individual needs and circumstances. While achieving perfect outcomes may not always be possible, with dedication and the right support, significant improvements can often be made in addressing behaviour issues in dogs.

Please note that we only investigate evidence-based claims that meet the standard of proof required in a civil and/or criminal court. Evidence must be provided in a written statement format with a legal declaration of truth, signed, and sent by post to CFBA. Only formal complaints that meet our standards will be investigated. We do not investigate canine behaviour modification techniques that are legal under English or other UK law and do not violate the Animal Welfare Act. The arbiter of what is legal is at the discretion of the CFBA Fellows.

In the first incidence an email to the CFBA admin is best and to ascertain if the complaint meets our remit. Thereafter, written signed communications is mandatory and if the complaint is to move forward to a formal stage.

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