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qathet-based dog trainer receives BC SPCA accreditation

Sandy Middleton's company is the second in the region recognized by AnimalKind program
EXPERT TRAINER: Sandy Middleton's Best Friends Dog Training and Behaviour is the second company in the qathet region to receive accreditation under the BC SPCA’s AnimalKind program, which recognizes dog training companies that use evidence-based positive reinforcement training methods and are committed to high animal welfare.

Best Friends Dog Training and Behaviour is the latest dog training company in the qathet region to receive BC SPCA’s AnimalKind accreditation.

According to a media release, AnimalKind accreditation recognizes dog training companies that use evidence-based, positive reinforcement training methods and are committed to high animal welfare.

“In BC, dog training is unregulated, and anyone can claim to be a dog trainer, regardless of their education or credentials,” stated Nicole Fenwick, manager, research and standards for the BC SPCA. “Dog guardians could end up trusting their dogs to someone who uses outdated techniques that negatively impact the bond between guardians and their dogs. By recommending only AnimalKind accredited trainers, BC SPCA can connect dog guardians to humane, expert trainers.”

Sandy Middleton, owner and trainer at Best Friends Dog Training and Behaviour, explained the importance of using humane training methods.

“I train using positive reinforcement because I can’t imagine inviting a dog into my life and my home and then treating them unkindly,” stated Middleton. “There is no place for hurting or scaring dogs in the name of training or for any other reason. I never want to betray a dog’s trust by using aversive methods or equipment. It’s not only unkind, it’s ineffective, and aversive techniques actually cause many dogs to become fearful and aggressive.”

Middleton became a dog trainer as her second career. The retired Capilano College instructor attributes her interest in dog training to her own dogs, Sophie and TT.

“My dog Sophie had become reactive to other dogs, and I was looking for ways to help her with that,” stated Middleton. “I loved Sophie so much, and it hurt to see her barking and snarling at other dogs. I wanted to change that. And my dog TT was a feral puppy who I adopted. TT came home with me at seven months afraid of his own shadow.”

To receive AnimalKind accreditation, companies undergo a rigorous auditing process that ensures their training methods follow science-backed AnimalKind dog standards.

“We are excited Best Friends Dog Training and Behaviour is now part of the AnimalKind community,” stated Fenwick, “and that more dogs on the Sunshine Coast will benefit from working with these amazing trainers who are so committed to animal welfare.”

Paw in Hand, which received the same recognition in 2019, moved to the qathet region from Squamish in 2021.

“I am happy and proud to be accredited by the AnimalKind program,” stated Middleton. “I’m honoured to be listed among all the wonderful trainers in BC who are doing such great work demonstrating the power of humane, science-based training and helping people and their dogs live their best lives together.”

BC SPCA launched the first set of AnimalKind standards – for wildlife and rodent control companies – in 2018. Through a partnership with the UBC Animal Welfare Program, the BC SPCA, Vancouver Foundation and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies provided funding to establish the program.

AnimalKind standards for dog training, the second set of standards developed, were launched in January 2019. 

For more information about AnimalKind accreditation, go to