An interview with PPG founder and president Niki Tudge about why she started a member organization for force-free training pet professionals, what members and pet owners can expect from PPG, and what sets PPG apart.
PPG founder and president of PPG Niki Tudge started formulating the idea of establishing an organization for force-free pet training professionals in November 2011, after she had witnessed a trainer in a pet supplies store hanging a screaming dog in the air with a choke chain while shouting “No!” Upon complaining to the store’s manager, she was informed it was one of the store’s off-duty trainers “running a reactive dog class.”
“I was horrified,” she says. “I abandoned my shopping cart and left the store in tears. How can this be allowed to happen? What could I possibly do about it? I figured there had to be other trainers like me who were not okay with that type of training.”
Q: What makes PPG unique? Or different from other organizations?
A: We are the only international pet industry membership organization that welcomes pet professionals from different fields of expertise.
Additionally, PPG was the first organization to open its membership to the pet-owning public for free. I feel like the only way we are truly going to eradicate harmful tools and outdated philosophies is if we can engage, educate, and empower pet owners so they are making – no, demanding – the right level of care from pet industry professionals.
We are also the only pet industry organization that offers a junior level membership, for different age groups from ages 8-20, designed to provide participants with insight into the science that drives our mission, and the opportunities within our industry to work with animals in a force-free, fear-free way.
We were the first, for a member association in the pet industry, to advocate against the use of prong, choke and shock collars. These pieces of equipment were specifically designed to work by imposing pain, force, or fear onto the pet as a way of controlling undesirable behavior. This is unacceptable. From day one, we have never wavered on our founding principle which states that we will never adopt pain, force, or fear as acceptable methods to change your pet’s behavior.
Q: What do you think attracts people to PPG when they are looking at accrediting organizations?
A: The Pet Professional Accreditation Board, or PPAB, is PPG’s sister organization. PPAB offers the only international externally invigilated certification for professionals who believe there is no place for shock, choke, prong, pain, force, or fear in pet training and behavior practices. There are three pathways to earn credentials from the PPAB and all credentialed professionals are assessed on the applicable knowledge, skills, and teaching ability required for their level of certification.
Q: How many accredited members do you have in the UK – and are they trainers, behaviorists, or a combination of both?
A: PPAB is independently managed separately from PPG and the certificants on the PPAB website are from all over the world. At this time, it’s not possible to easily differentiate them by location; however, we are embarking on a huge website update wherein credentialed members will be listed by location.
Q: What support does PPG give their members?
A: PPG’s mission is all about engaging, educating, and empowering our professional members and pet owners. We have built an organization where we encourage entrepreneurial ideas, knowledge, skills, and talents to shine from within. Members have access to an extensive list of professional development opportunities to keep up-to-date on the newest science in animal behavior and training. Members are also provided tools to support the marketing of their services.
Q: What can an owner expect when they choose a PPG member to help them with their dog? Why should they come to PPG?
A: There are no guarantees about outcomes from behavioral programs since much of the program’s success depends on the pet owner’s commitment and compliance to the professional recommendations.
What PPG members can guarantee is that we are not going to use harmful methods in our training. You’re going to get a pet dog trainer, or pet care provider, who is a competent, forward-thinking professional, transparent in the solutions they offer to support your pet’s emotional, physical, and environmental well-being. What more could you ask for?
Q: What have been your personal highlights within PPG and what are you most proud of?
A: It has always been a personal goal of mine to provide education for pet owners, so they ask the right questions of their professionals. Consumer-driven standards from educated and informed pet owners, are very powerful industry motivators. It gives me hope, and I get quite emotional, when I receive emails from pet owners who write, “I was told to come to PPG to find a trainer because none of your members will hurt my dog.” That for me is very poignant and makes it all worthwhile.
Education and Ethics
Q: What is the future for PPG?
A: PPG’s Key Charter states: “PPG began with the very simple goal of serving the Pet Industry and as an educational antidote to the scientifically unfounded and dangerous methods and practices popularized by entertainment TV.” But we’re not there yet, are we? We must carry on.
Q: Anything else you want to add that is unique to PPG – or unique to you?
A: Our Guiding Principles and our non-negotiables oversee and underpin everything we do. No Prong, No Choke, No Shock, No Pain, No Force, No fear. We all are informed by science, guided by empathy, and governed by ethics™.
Q: How do owners find a PPG member to help them with their dog?
A: They go to our membership directory and search by job type, services required, or just location finder by postcode search. We also have a hotline, which can be used in emergencies, and one of our experts will help the pet owner locate a professional.
This article featured selected excerpts from an interview that was first published in Your Dog Magazine.