The Truth about Ofqual

Dog Walkers, sitters and home boarders, as well as dog trainers and behaviour practitioners, have been misled and confused for years now by associations, groups and organisations, as they’re pushed toward expensive and unnecessary Ofqual courses for what is in fact a completely unregulated industry. Ever since the introduction of new Animal Welfare legislation in October 2018, there has been nothing but confusion. Councils do not even fully understand the legislation, and these are the people granting the licenses. There is absolutely NO NEED for an Ofqual course for dog training or behaviour. There is absolutely NO NEED for an Ofqual course for dog walking or sitting.

As of February 2022, for the regular standard home boarding license, staff must either: hold a formal qualification such as a Level 2 OFQUAL regulated qualification appropriate for their role OR show they have relevant and sufficient knowledge and experience. Where no accredited training course exists for an activity, other evidence of training must be provided, such as industry generated courses. So an Ofqual course is not necessary.

Only for the Higher Standards license which lasts 2-3 years rather than just one, must there be a full-time member of staff with an Ofqual Level 3 relevant qualification

Furthermore, course providers providing Ofqual courses are taking the same courses from the Ofqual pot. Anyone who has had their course Ofqual regulated, gives up ownership of that course, and the course becomes available to everyone who has opted to provide Ofqual courses. As a result, the content is the same, rarely updated, and often out of date and irrelevant in today’s modern dog training and behaviour world. Once a topic is covered by an Ofqual course, you have to work hard to justify the existence of yet another course on the same subject. And so the pot begins to stagnate. BCCS remains in complete control of their course content and delivery, and BCCS courses cannot be found anywhere else. We can update the courses instantly, and we can keep our prices low as a result of not being part of Ofqual. The only time an Ofqual course might be of interest, is if you plan to go down the road of Academia and study to Degree level, or in order to meet the membership requirements of a particular body, group or organisation. Here at the BCCS, we have become exhausted with the elitist snobbery that goes hand in hand with some of these organisations, unwilling to grant membership or give you the time of day unless you’re qualified to Degree level for example.

An unregulated industry is both good and bad. Obviously we would all love to see the introduction of a formal minimal standard or qualification for those working with dogs. But here’s the problem. Who is going to dictate that to the industry? And what should that standard be? We know there are highly qualified individuals that are amazing with dogs and their owners. We also know there are highly qualified individuals that are awful with dogs and their owners, and a piece of paper does not mean you’re good at doing the job, it means you’re good at studying. On the flip side, there are some completely unqualified and truly awful dog trainers out with out of date, old fashioned approaches, techniques, and advice, making dogs worse, not better. And there are some amazing people doing fabulous work, with no qualifications at all, only years of experience and learning that never stops. Many of the organisations within the industry are busy fighting to become the one that regulates it. But the truth is they can agree on nothing. There is a saying in this industry; “the only thing two dog trainers can agree on is that the third dog trainer is doing it wrong”. And this is why the industry will remain unregulated or rather, self-regulating, for the foreseeable.