Amid growing concerns and public debates surrounding Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and the rising number of dangerous dog incidents, the British College of Canine Studies (BCCS) has introduced a free online course aimed at dog owners. As an institution specialising in canine education since 2010, BCCS has a track record of offering courses to canine professionals, including vet nurses, trainers, behaviourists, rescue organisations, groomers, dog walkers, and even police and military dog handlers. Their educational impact extends globally, with over 3500 students worldwide.
Founder James Conroy, aged 50, based at the College’s headquarters in the Cotswolds, expressed his concern over the increasing incidents involving dangerous dogs, which have prompted calls for new laws to address these issues. Conroy emphasised that the focus should not be on the breed but rather on responsible ownership and better-educated dog owners.
Conroy stated, “It was the German Shepherd when I was a young man. Then it was the Rottweiler. The Doberman got its turn as the devil dog. Followed by the American Staffordshire (Pitbull). This has been going on for 50 years now. I don’t know when people are going to realise it’s not the breed, it’s the owners and very individual and often badly treated dogs.
The free Responsible Dog Owner (RDO) course offered by BCCS comprises six concise units that individuals can study from the comfort of their homes, at their own pace. Upon completion, participants receive a digital certificate. The course aims to equip dog owners with essential knowledge about dog behavior, training, and safety.
Police data reveals a significant increase in the number of out-of-control dogs seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act, reaching 479 in the past year, compared to 333 in 2021 and 336 in 2019. As of May this year, the Metropolitan Police had already seized 154 dogs. The American bully breed, in particular, has seen a surge in seizures, with 44 American bullies seized this year, nearly three times the number of the next most common breed, the Staffordshire bull terrier crossbreed.
James Conroy also raised concerns about certain advice provided by prominent animal charities in the UK, such as Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, suggesting that some of the guidance may lead to a generation of dog owners who hesitate to address unwanted behavior.
He explained, “Some trainers feel very strongly about disagreeing with anything at all. Dog behaviour and dog training are very different. In dog behaviour, dogs disagree with unwanted behaviour all the time. Dogs bark, growl, bite, snarl, use visible and biological cues like bared teeth and hackles, all warning signs to stop. Ears back, tail down. They give us so much information via body language. I don’t see anything wrong with coming at situations and problem behaviours using methods far more natural to the dog. But extreme characters like Cesar Milan, made such approaches completely unacceptable. He was too physical and used force. But I feel the industry has gone too far the other way now. You can’t even use an ‘ah!’ to stop unwanted behaviour, without being judged and condemned by some modern dog trainers today. Our courses maintain some balance and some common sense. This is hard to find these days.”
The British College of Canine Studies offers a range of home study courses covering various aspects of dog-related topics, including behavior, health, and nutrition. They provide accredited, CPD, and Ofqual regulated qualifications. Those interested in the free Responsible Dog Owner Course, typically priced at £9.99, can visit dogcourses.co.uk and add the RDO course to their cart. By using the code RDOFREE at checkout, they can access the course at no cost. Please note that the code is exclusive to the Responsible Dog Owner Course and will not work for any other courses.