Trainers Become First Kennel Club Accredited Instructors For Assistance Dogs

Helen Harper and Jay Elcock have become the first people in the UK to achieve a prestigious Kennel Club teaching qualification for their work in training assistance dogs.

Helen, aged 32, and Jay, aged 31, are the first people to become Kennel Club Accredited Instructors in Assistance Dogs after successfully completing the qualification offered by the Kennel Club Accreditation Scheme for Instructors in Dog Training and Canine Behaviour (KCAI).

Helen has worked as an independent dog trainer and behaviourist for 14 years and currently works as an instructor for Dogs for the Disabled, helping people with disabilities gain greater independence.  This isn't Helen's first KCAI accreditation as she was one of the youngest people ever to achieve the prestigious KCAI accreditation for Companion Dogs in 2012 at the age of 30.

Jay works in the training team at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, and since joining the KCAI scheme she has progressed to senior dog trainer and is now a training team leader at the charity's head office in Buckinghamshire. Jay started on the KCAI scheme with a small group of her colleagues from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and the charity has worked closely with the Kennel Club to develop the assistance dogs accreditation module.

Speaking about her latest accreditation, Helen said: "I feel privileged and honoured to be one of the first Kennel Club Accredited Instructors in Assistance Dogs in the country. I'm happy to be part of an accredited body and the benefits it will bring. In this ever-growing industry, with more and more people who are not formally qualified, I hope this will allow people to make the best possible choice when choosing a trainer.

"It was a great goal to work towards and it's fantastic to be one of the first. I just hope others out there in the industry decide to gain an accreditation in assistance dogs as it is a great scheme and it is very rewarding when an external body recognises your achievement."

Jay commented: "I am incredibly proud to be one of the first assistance dog accredited instructors.  I am very grateful to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People for all of their support and also to the various people at the Kennel Club who help make the scheme run so smoothly.  I think it is fantastic to have an industry led accreditation for all the hard work and dedication that working in this field requires.  The Kennel Club has been great all the way and I'd like to especially thank my assessor Di Morgan for her support during the day of my observation."

As part of their accreditation, Helen and Jay were observed handling and training an assistance dog and observed working with two clients along with their dogs. The clients were at differing levels of ability and Helen and Jay offered constructive advice on how to go through the stages of training, how to deal with potential problems and how to work with the dog. The clients were assisted where necessary and were given extensive support to ensure that they progressed and gained confidence.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: "This national standard for assistance dogs is a great way to recognise the hard work and dedication of people such as Jay and Helen. We congratulate them in their success and look forward to more assistance dog trainers following in their footsteps.

"The unique flexibility of the KCAI means that other organisations which represent and work with canine trainers, advisors and behaviourists can link with the scheme and its overall badge of quality without losing their independence, individuality or identity."

For more information on the KCAI, please visit

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Dog Training KCAI
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