Requirements for dog training establishments

Dogs at a training session sitting next to their ownersThe Domestic Animals Act 1994 ensures that domestic animal businesses throughout Victoria continue to meet community expectations.

The Act does this by establishing a registration scheme for domestic animal businesses such as dog training establishments and adopting enforceable Codes of Practice for their business operations.

It is an offence to attack train a dog unless that training is done through a registered dog training establishment and in accordance with the Code of Practice.

Code of Practice

Dog training establishments classified as domestic animal businesses are required by the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to comply with the Code of Practice for the Operation of Dog Training Establishments.

The purpose of the Code of Practice for the Operation of Dog Training Establishments is to define the minimum standards of accommodation, management and care which are appropriate to the physical and behavioural needs of dogs being trained in dog training establishments. The Code is to be observed by owners of, and workers in, dog training establishments. This includes training at the residence of a client.

The Code imposes specified procedures on the manager and staff of the establishment, as well as minimum husbandry requirements including nutrition, vaccination and health care, security, housing and minimum pen sizes where training is conducted on the premises and dogs are required to be housed. In the best interests of you and your dog, only those businesses that meet, as a minimum, the requirements of the Code are permitted to operate.

Before you engage your dog in a professional training program, you should be aware of some important provisions contained in the Code of Practice.

Business registration

A person must not operate a dog training establishment which is run for profit unless it is registered with the Council of the municipal district in which the business is conducted. You may want to check with Council as to whether or not the training establishment you wish to enrol in is required to be registered. If it is, then the following conditions will apply.

Identification

All dogs undergoing dog training must be identified as it is important that your dog can be clearly recognised at all times.

Pre-vaccination

Before your dog is accepted for training, pre-vaccination is required against:

  • distemper
  • hepatitis
  • parvovirus

A current vaccination certificate must be produced for each dog before admission (to certify that vaccination was done within the last 12 months and that the 'due date' for the next vaccination has not passed).

Vaccination against canine cough and a heartworm infection check is also recommended prior to training. Animals known or suspected to be suffering from an infectious disease must not be admitted for training. These requirements will assist in providing protection for your dog from disease and other health risks.

Safety and welfare

The trainer or training establishment must ensure the safety and wellbeing of the client and dog at all times. For example, if a dog is aggressive and displays a clear danger to other dogs or people — it must be muzzled.

Slip collars (choker chains), must not be used on puppies under 12 weeks of age. Undue force must not be used when training any dog.

Reduced registration fee

The legislation requires councils to charge a reduced registration fee for dogs that have finished obedience training.

Dogs are eligible for the reduced registration fee in the Schedule to the Act if they have:

  • taken part in an assessment program administered by a ministerially approved dog obedience training organisation
  • been issued with the official ‘dog obedience certificate’

Not all registered training organisations are approved for a reduced registration fee.

Other certificates that qualify a dog for the reduced registration fee are certificates of obedience titles that are recognised by the Australian National Kennel Control.

Approved training organisations

The legislation requires councils to charge a reduced registration fee for dogs that have undergone obedience training.

Organisations whose dog obedience assessment programs are approved under the Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 are:

  • DOGS Victoria
  • Australian Association of Professional Dog Trainers Inc
  • The Gentle Dog Trainers Association
  • Four Paws K9 Training

The program must be conducted by a qualified dog trainer who is a member of one of these organisations.

Page last updated: 12 Jan 2021