In any business, the individual is constantly faced with ethical challenges. In the pet industry, these ethical challenges are manifested in the choices professionals must make regarding their approach to training and behavior consulting.
It is our view that dog trainers, behavior consultants and professional pet care providers are bound to pursue a philosophical approach that blends both the Golden and Silver Rules in that they have an ethical responsibility, a) to do no harm to the animals in their care, and b) to present their qualifications and experience truthfully with full transparency and disclosure.
According to Welfel (2012, p.3), professional ethics is about “being confident one has the correct combination of attributes, skills, and character.” But how does this apply in the field of animal training or behavior consulting? To answer, we must first address why professional ethics are significant both to the general public as well as to the professional.
According to Tudge (2010), professional ethics “cover the moral issues that can arise from the specialist knowledge that a professional body has. The industry’s ethics govern how this knowledge is used when providing a service.” The general public benefits from ethical policies through recognition of a professional individual’s autonomy and the right to be treated with respect and fairness. The individual professional, meanwhile, whose profession provides ethical guidelines and policies, benefits from the trust earned by being part of said professional body and an appropriate framework to operate within. Furthermore, a professional’s membership of a professional body may inspire confidence from their clients, as well as giving said professional the opportunity to continue to improve their skills and expand on their knowledge. Professional ethics bring credibility to the profession itself as the public assumes that those following a specific set of ethical guidelines or policies will act truthfully and competently (Tudge, 2010).