Are the APBC ethical, humane or fit for purpose?

The APBC (Association of Pet Behvaiour Counsellors) is a self-proclaimed, “Second to none”, group of ‘veterinary referred’ ‘behaviourists’ (read ‘expensive’ – although they claim to work at a “reasonable cost”), which operates throughout the UK. The association proudly places tremendous emphasis on a member’s  academic achievement, yet you will notice ‘applied/practical proficiency’, to be suspiciously lacking in their marketing material. Essentially, the APBC is an association intent upon furthering their own name, increasing (paid) membership and creating an ‘elite’ public persona. They claim however, that their focus is,

“To maintain and ensure the highest professional standards of the practice of companion animal behaviour therapy so that clients can be assured of effective, humane and appropriate advice”


Read those three tenets again – “Effective” “Humane” “Appropriate”


Read on …


The APBC advised the Welsh Parliamentary Assembly on their ban of remote training collars in favour of ‘kinder’ – ‘more effective’ methods of training and behaviour modification, one of which was chasing stock/wildlife.* The (then) chair of the APBC – David Ryan, wrote an article on his website regarding chasing.

You can read it here

It begins by bamboozling the owners with the utter bullshit (i’m sorry, but i’m passionate) claims, that chasing is a release for anxieties, therefore the owner must ‘scan their environment’ at home to identify insecurities, which accrue to culminate (like a pressure cooker of anxiety) in chasing – THEREFORE, David Ryan tells owners to treat (for example) firework phobias before tackling chasing!! … It gets better … Mr Ryan, the bastion of welfare, of “EFFECTIVE HUMANE and APPROPRIATE training; the parliamentary ‘go-to-man’ on matters affecting millions of dogs, is asked the following question ….

“I have 2 y/o Sheepdog, of course, bred to herd. We rescued her 3 months ago. We live in a rural area with many deer, armadillos, etc. Our property is not fenced. She has bolted out the door several times in pursuit of deer. I can’t control the deer population, it is what it is here. She does love her toys so I will work on this. My concern, when she is in pursuit, she is fast and hears nothing I have to say. The other problem I have is her barking. She gets walks 3-4 times a day and whenever she sees deer she barks uncontrollably. I tried the rocks in a can, creating a noise and that worked for about 3 weeks then she became immune to that. Will a dog whistle help? I am desperate! Thank you!”

Mr Ryan replies with the following (shortened for brevity):

“If I HAD to keep her using your environment (and my preference would be to re-home her to a more appropriate one, because it is not benefiting either of you) I would forget about walking her and spend the time with her tied-out on a long line so she can’t run off, whilst playing retrieve games with her.”


YES!!!! … you read that correctly … “REHOME HER, or FORGET ABOUT WALKING HER AND TIE HER OUT” ….

Having NEVER MET THE DOG, and based entirely on the scant information provided in a brief, desperate blog post, the former chair of the “second to none” APBC, the “highest professional standards of companion animal behaviour therapy”, starts out with “REHOME HER or FORGET ABOUT WALKING HER AND TIE HER OUT”.

Mr Ryan goes on to recommend ‘games instead of walks’, ‘practise obedience so that she comes back because she wants to’ [??!! – No actual answer there whatsoever!] ….. And finally … “After that you need a PROTRACTED PROGRAMME [my emphasis] of introducing the stimulus (deer) at a low level whilst keeping her focus on you (toy-reward) and gradually increasing the salience of the deer-stimulus … [Then comes a ‘buy my book’!! .. Followed by] “Good Luck!”

I’m sure Mr Ryan means ‘decreasing the salience of the deer-stimulus’, but here’s the rub … Here’s the really really really wrong part … The worst aspect of all ….

Mr Ryan is LYING and he bloody well knows that he is lying. There is no way in a month of Sundays that a ball will beat a deer for a sheepdog with a well rehearsed chase history. Mr Ryan knows this, which is why he starts out by saying ‘rehome your dog’ – Because his advise is impotent and he knows it … But impotent advice won’t generate income, and so Mr Ryan back-pedals and throws a ‘buy my book’ into the equation too … Best grab a few quid out of it whilst she’s desperate eh David? …. Disgusting. Unethical. Unprofessional. dishonest and greedy.

That’s the APBC for you. David Ryan is presently presenting seminars on chase modification throughout the UK … Where emotions prevail, common sense will fail, eh David.

*You really ought to get your hands on this advisory paper, settle yourself into a comfortable chair for an hour or so and read through it. Depending on your general response to absurdity, you will find yourself either laughing, stunned into disbelief, or enraged. Seldom will you encounter a more emotively biased, evidentially lean, scientifically cherry-picked, anecdotal and factually false piece of work on the subject of remote training aids and the effects of professionally applied correction (positive punishment – Adding a negative consequence as a result of an action), and electronic pressure (Negative reinforcement – Removal or non-occurrence of a negative consequence as a result of an action) on canine behaviour.


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