ICB code of conduct and ethics, and CAWC code of practice

In order to maintain high standards of animal welfare and offer a professional service to clients, all ICB members must comply with our code of conduct, ethics and the CAWC code of practice which have adopted. Our complaints procedure ensures that any deviation from these is dealt with promptly, appropriately and fairly.


ICB code of conduct and ethics

Code of conduct

All members of International Canine Behaviourists (ICB) must agree to abide by our Code of Conduct.

  1. New members are only accepted if they can demonstrate that they can meet our strict selection process of reaching the required knowledge / educational standards together with practical experience as specified in our membership criteria in accordance with the level of membership. We do not compromise or make exceptions to this.
  2. All members are required to continue with their education and knowledge of canine behaviour through continued professional development.
  3. All our members pledge to never use methods that will harm a dog’s physical and mental health, whatever the circumstances may be.
  4. Any complaints must follow our complaints procedure and will be overseen by the ICB compliance officer.
  5. If it were proved that a member behaved in such a way that could or would harm a dog, the member would be struck off the ICB register for life.
  6. ICB will never share personal details with any other person(s) or organisation(s) and will comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act.
  7. Members will be expected to act in a professional manner so as to never bring ICB into disrepute.


Professional Code of Ethics

A dog’s physical and mental wellbeing is paramount to us. Under no circumstances will ICB members ever use or recommend any of the following:

  • Choke chains
  • Prong collars
  • Electric shock collars or spray collars
  • Bite sticks
  • Rattle cans
  • Smacking, pinching or kicking
  • Intimidation and/or physical force of any sort

Any member may have their membership terminated if:

  • They are convicted of a crime that involves violence
  • Engage in conduct that could lead to a criminal conviction
  • Engage in cruelty, abuse, or neglect of animals or humans
  • Fail to cooperate with ICB if a complaint is made against them.

All members have the right to reply and appeal.

Code of practice

International Canine Behaviourists (ICB) has adopted the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) Code of Practice below:

2. Scope and Objectives

2.1 Individuals have professional obligations to their clients, the animals they are helping, their employers (where relevant), to one another, to students, to the animal requiring the service, to colleagues in other disciplines (e.g. Veterinary Surgeon) and to society.

2.2 In order that they may discharge their obligations to their clients they must be able to meet the expense of the professional provisions which are necessary for safeguarding and promoting the rights of both the client and the animal. The primary objective of this code is to express the values and principles which are essential to those working with animal behaviour and training.

3. Core Values

  • ICB members must have a high level of knowledge and understanding of animal welfare
  • ICB members must be competent in their knowledge and skills and their limitations
  • Confidentiality in all dealings with clients and colleagues must be adhered to. In cases where information needs to be shared, e.g. with veterinary staff or through referral, client permission must first be gained.
  • ICB members must treat all clients, colleagues and other professionals with respect.
  • ICB Members must meet the needs of their client and animals in their care effectively.
  • ICB members must always be honest when dealing with clients
  • ICB members must have an understanding of dog law
  • ICB members must be legally covered and insured in their field of work -this only applies to members in countries that have public liability insurance available.

Service to the client.

All members of ICB must provide value of service for their clients. Members of ICB must agree with the client on which services they will provide and the form these will take. Services include assessing the client’s wishes, needs and goals, being realistic about what can potentially be achieved to meet these, and using their best efforts, skills and experience to accomplish the work they have been enlisted to do. Fees for consultations must be stated and agreed upon in advance so that clients understand the level of financial commitment that will be involved. Follow-up reports and feedback must be delivered within the time frame agreed upon during the consultation. Further guidance during the agreed time frame should be arranged during the first consultation, including options for the client to phone or email for further information after consultations.


This applies to all dealings with clients, colleagues, referrals and ICB, and includes reports, write-ups and client feedback.


All members of ICB must undertake regular Continued Professional Development, and at least 40 hours CPD are required annually. These can take the form of in-person seminars and courses, online seminars and webinars, and relevant reading material. All CPD must be logged and submitted annually to the membership secretary.

4. Principles

Individuals and organisations have a duty to:

4.1 Ensure that the main requirements of the code are readily available to members and clients.

4.2 Work within the legal framework of the country where the service is being delivered.

4.3 Safeguard and promote the welfare of others especially the client and the animal in their care and the public.

4.4 To work in the best interests of the animal and the person responsible for the animal’s care. Avoid any individual behaviour which might unreasonably violate professional boundaries, members must act with integrity at all times and must avoid criticising other professionals that may unreasonably damage professional relationships.

ICB members are respectful of colleagues and other professionals, they must treat all other professionals with professional courtesy. Members will not condemn other professionals or their acts or engage in disrespectful or inflammatory public commentary, internet discussions and social media, this includes cyberbullying.

4.5 Use professional knowledge, research and experience to contribute to the discipline of behaviour and training. Encourage other practitioners to recognise and maintain similar standards. Contribute to the education and training of colleagues and students by sharing knowledge and experience.

4.6 Ensure that they do not act out of prejudice against any person or group, on any grounds including origin, ethnicity, class, sex, status, sexual orientation, age, disability.

4.7 Be honest, transparent and accurate about their qualifications, competence, experience, achievements and affiliations.

4.8 Take on work only within the practitioners’ existing capabilities or when a programme to attain the required skills has been achieved.

4.9 Encourage clients to seek other forms of treatment if behaviour modification or training is not the most appropriate means of treating the condition or problem.

4.10 Maintain and extend competence in order to provide a quality service that is accountable. Appraise new methods and techniques in order to extend experience.

4.11 Provide honest and reliable written (where appropriate) opinions, maintaining objectivity in judgements.

4.12 Take appropriate action if health or any other factor is likely to interfere with judgement or performance of duty.

4.13 Make it clear when making statements whether you do so as a private individual or as a representative of a particular organisation or group.

4.14 Keep a record of all complaints and actions taken.

4.15 Hold appropriate and adequate third party, as well as professional indemnity insurance and other insurance corresponding to the activities undertaken.

5. Conflict of Interest

Individuals must be alert to the possibility of any conflict of interest which may affect their ability to exercise discretion or bias their judgement.

6. Informed Consent

Individuals will not act without the informed consent of their client, unless required by law to protect the animal, the person or another from the risk of harm.

7. Confidentiality

Consent to disclose information must be obtained from the client before sharing related information with third parties. Any disclosure of information must be made only with the client’s written permission unless there are overriding legal, safety or ethical considerations.

8. Record Keeping

This must comply with the Data Protection Act.

9. Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

In order to maintain, develop and enhance practitioner skills they must undertake a minimum of 40 hours CPD annually. This must be recorded by the individual. Individuals are also encouraged to reflect on their own professional practice.

10. Commercial Obligations

10.1 Practitioner advertising must not:

  • Mislead or deceive users of their service
  • Be sensational or make unrealistic, or unsubstantiated performance claims
  • Create unjustifiable expectations about the length or type of treatment or unrealistic prospects for success
  • Make claims of superiority or disparage colleagues or members of other organisations or professions

10.2 Practitioners must not sell or recommend a product, service or an individual service provider without being first satisfied that this would benefit the animal under their care and that they are suitably qualified to make such a recommendation.

10.3 The recommending practitioner must disclose to the client if the practitioner may gain a commercial benefit by making such a recommendation. Practitioners must not allow such an interest to influence their choice of provision, service, care or treatment to the detriment of the animal or service user.

10.4 There must be transparency in the charges, terms and conditions of the service that the practitioner provides.

Equal opportunities and Complaints

ICB does not discriminate against anyone applying for membership or any members’ clients. You can find our policy here: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy 

If you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against either by one of our ICB members or through the membership recruitment process, please follow our complaints procedure  

International Canine Behaviourists is group of professional dog behaviourists and trainers. © 2019: International Canine Behaviourists Ltd