What is Professional Competence?
Most certainly some people enter the field of pet training out of a love for being around and working with animals in preference to being around or working with people. This can be an ill thought-out strategy, however, as pet training involves contact not only with the pet involved, but also their legal guardian, whether this be a rescue facility, a pet owner, or a referring professional. In other words, there is no avoiding people.
How, then, does the concept of competence impact the work of professional dog trainers and pet care providers? Professional competence is the “broad professional knowledge, attitude, and skills required in order to work in a specialized area or profession. Disciplinary knowledge and the application of concepts, processes and skills are required in a test of professional competence in any particular field.” (Reference, 2019). When speaking to the practice of counseling, Welfel (2009, p.81) points out that “professional competence is the most ethical obligation a professional has in their field of expertise.”
To be competent means a professional is knowledgeable, schooled in the theory and research of their industry, and has the necessary skills to apply that field of knowledge to a working situation with their clients (Tudge, 2010). Within the companion animal training and behavior field, “necessary skills” refers to the professional’s interviewing skills, their ability to use applied behavior analysis to functionally analyze behavior via a professional functional assessment, and possess the technical skills and ability to support pet owners in their goals of improving and changing a pet’s behavior (Tudge, 2010).