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Frequently asked questions

Here are selection of frequently asked questions, if you would like to ask us
a question please submit it using the form below.

DEFRA - Specific information for those who wish to comply with local council guidance, eg. for home boarding / dog day care.

Our accredited awards

We know that the world of training and education titles and qualifications can be complicated, and the jargon doesn’t help!

Our accredited courses are made up of ‘Bespoke’ Units: this is because they are unique to us at ThinkDog! in content and structure.

Our Units are accredited to exactly the same quality standards as Ofqual Units, and are judged by the same very strict external educational criteria. They are the equivalent in level and credit value and are judged as such by all industry standards. 

Unfortunately (we believe!) bespoke units are sometimes referred to as ‘unregulated’ – which is very misleading. The term is used simply because they are not bound to Ofqual’s regulations on the design of Units.

You can be assured that our accredited courses are quality assessed to exactly the same standards and levels as Ofqual and other equivalent providers – and that they have been designed with the specific needs of those in the canine profession who need to demonstrate a high level of behavioural and training understanding.

 

This information is taken directly from the Laser Learning site (January 2019):

“Laser Learning Awards (LASER) is an awarding organisation regulated by Ofqual, the regulator of qualifications in England. This means that we have to meet a very stringent set of conditions of regulation to make sure that all the qualifications we issue have been delivered, assessed and awarded correctly.

Some of our qualifications and other courses are called bespoke or ‘unregulated’ which means that they are not regulated by Ofqual – but it doesn’t mean there are no quality standards attached to them. In fact, we apply the same set of quality standards to all our provision, it just may ‘look’ different in some cases, and being unregulated means we can be more flexible in designing the courses. We can also approve courses which are unique to a certain company and not available to anyone else.”

 

 

Specific information for those who wish to comply with DEFRA guidance, eg. for home boarding / dog day care.

 

DEFRA states in their Animal Welfare Licensing Home Boarding for Dogs Guidance:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/762467/animal-welfare-licensing-home-boarding-for-dogs-guidance.pdf

 

  • Suitable and sufficient training of people responsible for the care of the animals must be demonstrated to have been carried out in the following areas:

 

Dog welfare, including recognising poor welfare and understanding the 5 welfare needs;

  • Dog handling;
  • Dog behaviour;
  • Cleanliness and hygiene;
  • Feeding and food preparation;
  • Disease control;
  • Recognition and first aid treatment of sick animals.

 

 

Higher Standard

 

 

Accreditation - what does it mean?

Our accredited awards

We know that the world of training and education titles and qualifications can be complicated, and the jargon doesn’t help!

Our accredited courses are made up of ‘Bespoke’ Units: this is because they are unique to us at ThinkDog! in content and structure.

Our Units are accredited to exactly the same quality standards as Ofqual Units, and are judged by the same very strict external educational criteria. They are the equivalent in level and credit value and are judged as such by all industry standards. 

Unfortunately (we believe!) bespoke units are sometimes referred to as ‘unregulated’ – which is very misleading. The term is used simply because they are not bound to Ofqual’s regulations on the design of Units.

You can be assured that our accredited courses are quality assessed to exactly the same standards and levels as Ofqual and other equivalent providers – and that they have been designed with the specific needs of those in the canine profession who need to demonstrate a high level of behavioural and training understanding.

 

This information is taken directly from the Laser Learning site (January 2019):

“Laser Learning Awards (LASER) is an awarding organisation regulated by Ofqual, the regulator of qualifications in England. This means that we have to meet a very stringent set of conditions of regulation to make sure that all the qualifications we issue have been delivered, assessed and awarded correctly.

Some of our qualifications and other courses are called bespoke or ‘unregulated’ which means that they are not regulated by Ofqual – but it doesn’t mean there are no quality standards attached to them. In fact, we apply the same set of quality standards to all our provision, it just may ‘look’ different in some cases, and being unregulated means we can be more flexible in designing the courses. We can also approve courses which are unique to a certain company and not available to anyone else.”

When will I receive my certificate for completing my course?

Once you have successfully completed your coursework, we send you a beautiful certificate from ThinkDog! which you can proudly display. Internal and external moderation then takes place and Laser Learning then release the certificate when they are satisfied that all their criteria have been met. This can take several weeks or even months. Do send us an e-mail if you are concerned and we can give you an idea of the time scales involved.

I’ve been asked to add to my work or resubmit it

This means that your work shows promise, but we would like to see how you expand your ideas as the course progresses. This often results in higher grades being awarded later and increases your chances of a better graduation grade. If what you submit is unacceptable, you will be told, so do not be disappointed if you are asked to add more or resubmit – this is where the greatest learning often takes place!

I haven’t received my work back

We endeavour to return work within 14 days – and the turn-around time is usually 10 days or less! However, we do ask you to allow an official 28 days, as sometimes work needs to be second-marked, and internally or externally verified and this can extend the duration.

How can I get hands-on experience?

This is an oft-asked question, and a rather tricky one, as it depends on what kind of experience you are after and how much you need. Our Think Dog! Practical course allows students to assess and train unknown dogs in a rescue centre, and this can be a real source of inspiration and experience.

Walking dogs as a volunteer in rescue shelters can be very useful, as can training your own dogs to a high standard, and in different disciplines.

On-going experience can also be had by helping out trainers with their classes or by shadowing behaviour specialists if you have one willing to help in your area. Overall, the types of student that we welcome in our puppy and dog training classes are those who are prepared to work hard in an ‘apprenticeship’ capacity: sweeping up and making the tea if necessary! We all started there, and a show of genuine effort and love of the subject goes a long way when asking for experience under someone else’s wing.

I’m coming to the end of my course – what next?

Well done! Now is the time to be thinking about what your goals are and where your further studies might lie. Some students choose to get practical experience after completing a theory course, and vice versa. It would be lovely to think that in one course you can gain enough experience to start to work with dogs and owners, but the amount of study and on-going practical skills needed will very from person to person. Education in this subject never stops – indeed, I still love going to courses and workshops, and this is essential CPD.

I am behind on submitting my work

Most of the home study courses are designed to be completed comfortably within a six-month time-frame. However, your official registration lasts for 12 months. If you are likely to need longer than this, you can re-register. The charge is currently £65. Please do let us know if you are getting behind or if you are likely to need a significant extension to be able to complete your work successfully.

I haven’t submitted work yet

Ah, the big question here, is ‘What’s stopping you?’ It may be that personal circumstances have got in the way, or that you are struggling to get started. If this is the case, please see our ‘Tips to get started’ pointers, or give us a call on 01753 856 780

Where can you get the recommended books?

Ah, the fickle world of publishing…sometimes even the most popular book goes out of print for some reason…

With this in mind, it’s best to try more than one source if you can’t find what you are looking for. However, we would never expect you to pay more than cover price for a book on the list – contact us if you have any doubts before purchasing.

Amazon

Clever Dog Company (shop)

Crosskeys

Dogwise

E-Bay

Which books are really useful?

Each course has its own reading list, but here are the top five texts which I think are essential to have in a pile by your bed, no matter what level of study you are at. I have read and re-read all of them and still find something in each to inspire me. I know that some of them come and go in and out of print, but beg, steal or borrow them to make your library complete! (OK, well, no stealing.)

Reaching the Animal – Mind Karen Pryor
ISBN 978-0743297769 (2009) Scribner Book Company

Dogs – A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution – Raymond and Lorna Coppinger
(Originally published 2001). Scribner. Any edition.

The Culture Clash – Jean Donaldson
ISBN 0-9684207 (1996) Lasar Books.

Dominance – fact or fiction? – Barry Eaton
ISBN: 978 0 9533039 4 6 (2008. Booklet) (£6.75 from www.dogtrain.co.uk)

For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend
– Patricia McConnell
978-0345477156 (2007) Ballantine Books

PS. It nearly killed me to restrict this list to five!

Why do we recommend you read other books?

Nearly all academic courses require that students read as much as possible in their specific field, and we at Think Dog! are no exception. This is because, as you will already know, there is very little right and wrong in dog behaviour and training – but an awful lot of opinion!

Reading widely around the subject keeps you aware of as many different views on a subject as possible. This means that you can take these theories and make decisions for yourself on which fit with your experiences, research and beliefs.

While it might seem bewildering at first to read that one author believes in – say – using prong collars to train dogs, while another leading voice condemns their use as cruel, this sort of open discussion generates ideas, opinions, and research – which can only be a good thing for the dogs we want to help.

All our courses encourage you to form opinions of your own – and they don’t have to be in line with ours, or your personal tutor’s. However, they do need to be supported by external evidence –whether this is in research form or referencing of other people’s work in the field.

Referencing can sometimes be a little daunting for those who haven’t done it before, but here is a useful guide.

How to write an essay (pdf)

Getting help from us.

The absolute best way to get some support from your tutor is to email or call us. This means that we can reassure you, talk through the issue, and make sure that you set off again on the right lines.

If you want to chat, we do ask that you try to call between 9.30-1.30pm on weekday mornings. This is not because we drink tea and eat biccies in the afternoon, but because we are out doing the job that we talk about so much – seeing cases and training. If you can’t call during these hours, don’t worry, go old-school and leave us a message on the answer machine, or send us an e-mail and we’ll make a time to call you when it’s more convenient.

If it’s a simple fact-based question, then e-mail is excellent – we try our best to respond by the next working day.

Tips to get you started.

Question? How do you eat an elephant sandwich?
Answer. In small bites.

Here are the top tips that we have discovered to get you going. Tackling the work in small stages is sensible – after all, it’s how you would start to train a dog to do something new.

Once you are started, there’ll be no stopping you.

  1. Re-read the Course Notes again. No, this isn’t prevarication – it’s preparation.
  2. Read one of the books from the course recommended reading list, and make notes in it as you go – ideas that you have while reading, topics that you need to explore more, opinions that you agree or disagree with. (Use post-it notes if you can’t bear to write on your books..)
  3. Read the question carefully.
  4. Now, here’s the big one! Write down what pops into your mind immediately. If someone asked you this question in the pub or in the park, what would you say? These notes do not have to be coherent. They do not have to be structured. They just have to be your thoughts. Write as many as you can. Construct a mind map if this suits you. Ask yourself, “What do I really think about this?”
  5. Now, go through your recommended reading texts, and your course notes, and note down any references you think would help to support (or contradict with) your ideas.
  6. Now you are ready to re-order your notes, adding references as you go, and making the whole piece readable. Many people find this easier if they imagine telling someone, then writing down what they would say.

Help! I’m having a panic about submitting work!

Ah, you were so enthusiastic when the course notes arrived. You read through them and leafed through one or two of the recommended books. Then reality set in and you realise that you actually have to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Suddenly, motivation levels fall and you head off to do the ironing as a displacement activity…

We’ve all been there, and here’s what you need to know.

  1. The first part seems hardest because it feels like a step into the unknown.
  2. Once you have made a start, you will feel much better and motivation will return, and increase dramatically.
  3. We are not judging your grammar, presentation, spelling or anything else that school has a habit of making us worry about.

In order to get you started, take action! Call us, if that will help, or go to ‘Tips to get you started’ below.

I’m very interested in the courses you offer, but I’m unsure which one would suit me best.

Choosing a course is a very personal thing – it depends on your experience, your previous reading and study, and your goals. At Think Dog! we find that having a chat about all these aspects is the most effective way of helping you to make a decision – and we love talking about dog behaviour and our courses, so go on – give us a ring. Tel: 01753 856 780.

Are there pre-requisites for your courses?

Some of our courses are designed to be taken in a progressive sequence. For example, it is a pre-requisite that learners wishing to take the Think Dog! Intermediate course need to have completed the Think Dog! Certificate first. Those wishing to take the Think Dog! Advanced course need to have completed both Think Dog! Certificate and Think Dog! Intermediate.

Our other courses can be taken as stand-alone courses or in combination, or with Masterclasses and practical workshops.

How many hours per week would I need to put in?

The courses are accredited at different Laser Learning / OCN ‘levels’ – this means that the amount of work learners need to do for each one varies. However, on average it is sensible to budget around 6 hours per week – this to include background reading, planning, any field research or practical observations and writing.

How long do I have to complete each course?

Most of our home-study courses are designed to be completed within a six month time frame, however, learners’ official registration lasts for one year, which means that there is ample time allowed.

Are the courses recognised?

Our home-study courses (with the exception of Think Dog! Foundation) are all accredited by Laser Learning (Open College Network South East Region). Laser Learning is an externally awarding body – much like City and Guilds – and their accreditation is government recognised.

Their standards for accreditation are stringent and Think Dog! is proud to be a Laser Learning Recognised Centre, which in turn is regulated by Ofqual.

The courses we offer are made up of ‘bespoke’ units. This means they have been written specially for our Programmes and are not available anywhere else or through any other provider. (Occasionally, bespoke units are called by the (terrible!) name ‘unregulated’. This does NOT mean that they aren’t fully accredited – the term is used simply because they are not bound to Ofqual’s regulations on the design of Units.)

Our Units are accredited to exactly the same quality standards as Ofqual Units, and are judged by the same very strict external educational criteria. They are the equivalent in level and credit value and are judged as such by all industry standards. 

What do the course credits mean?

Each of our accredited courses are awarded credits, which denote the amount of work completed, at a certain level, which denotes the complexity of the work.

These vary between courses.

For example:

  • Think Dog! Certificate is accredited at Level Two, 12 credits.
  • Think Dog! Intermediate is accredited at Level Three, 12 credits.

Visit Laser Learning (OCN South East Region Ltd) website for more info on credits, or give us a call for a chat about specific courses.

I'd like to spread payments for the course. How does the instalment option work?

In order for us to register you on the course we require the deposit and the first instalment when you sign up – we will then send you confirmation of your place and your reading list, and/or joining details.

The three remaining instalments will then be taken automatically at 30 day intervals after this. (Note: ThinkDog! Practical is split into deposit + two instalments only). Your payment details are held securely and are not seen by us.

Will I need to buy books for the course?

We supply a recommended reading list for each course.

These are recommended, not compulsory, but most students benefit greatly from a wide range of reading about the subject.

The books that we recommend are generally inexpensive (around £6.50 for the most popular texts) and in most cases can be easily obtained from Amazon.

I haven’t written an essay for years – will I manage the course work?

Don’t worry!

Your work is marked on ideas and content – not on grammar or spelling!

We love students to use their experience and understanding, not just rely on factual regurgitation. It’s your opinion that counts and although you need to support this, we are more interested in hearing what you have to say than marking work based on ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

And rest assured. If your work doesn’t quite meet our requirements on the first Unit, we will call you and have a friendly and constructive chat which will give you guidance on how to add to your work. We don’t just let you fall without a safety net!

I have dyslexia, or a disability - will I cope?

We are completely inclusive in terms of our courses – and our learners range in age from 15 to 85.

We have had visually impaired and blind students happily complete courses and those with dyslexia or other difficulties too.

We have had students submit work by video, and those who supplied photographic portfolios of their work.

Just call us to have a chat, or e-mail us, so that we can help you to enrol confidently on a course. We will do everything we can to help.

Once I’ve finished this course, can I practise as a dog trainer or behaviourist?

The million-dollar question! Unfortunately, at the moment in the UK, dog training and behavioural consultancy is not bound by any laws, therefore allowing anyone to set themselves up to offer training or give advice to owners. However, we all have to start somewhere and this is why choosing an accredited course is so important.

Professional organisations such as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) offer membership – and working towards this is certainly to be recommended. Check out their websites for their membership criteria. Think Dog! is also part of the consultation process set up by the Animal Behaviour and Training Council, ABTC, who are attempting to form regulatory guidelines for the industry.

Many of those currently practising in this profession started with the Think Dog! courses – including Sarah Whitehead – so taking your first steps en route to a new career in this way is an excellent start.

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