The International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour (ISCP) is a globally accredited distance learning college, with mini and full-length courses for everyone who is interested in gaining an understanding of dog behaviour, psychology, handling, nutrition, and training. One could almost describe The ICSP as an ORB for dogs as the focus is being kind to people and being kind to dogs!

This article is provided by Founder and Director Lisa Tenzin-Dolma.

The ISCP offers courses from beginner level for dog caregivers who want to understand their dogs better and build stronger, happier relationships with them, through to courses that enable graduates to work professionally with dogs, and also an advanced, degree level course for those who wish to study even more intensively.

WHY WE JOINED ORB

Since its inception, my vision for the ISCP has been to create and develop a company that holds a strong ethical position and that supports those in need of help and is as environmentally sound as possible. We went paper-free several years ago, and no longer send out paperback course textbooks and printed certificates and diplomas.

I was interested to find out whether any organisations exist for responsible businesses, and that worked to create and promote a sense of community, and I was delighted to find the Organisation for Responsible Businesses. A Zoom meeting with Jill and subsequently being accepted as a member of ORB, and meeting other members through my first ORB networking event, has proved to be inspirational and educational. It’s fascinating to become aware of the wonderful diversity of companies who are involved!

OUR HISTORY

Many years ago, when I qualified as a canine psychologist and behaviourist, few recognised courses on this subject were available, and news of very important research study results was slowly being disseminated that was rocking the dog world on its axis.

Scientific evidence was coming to light that the old ‘wolf pack – dog pack’ dominance theory, that is still being recommended today through certain television shows, had been debunked by its originator, scientist David Mech. There was a new understanding that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement – to being rewarded for desired behaviour.

The key to any relationship, whether with another human, a dog, or an animal of any other species, is trust, and this has always been the foundation of my work with dogs and their caregivers. Seeing that a change in perception regarding how students, future professionals, was needed, I decided, with the enthusiastic approval of The Association of INTODogs committee, to open an education provider that has science and compassion as its main aims.

INTODogs is an organisation for professionals who use only force-free methods; back in the early 2000’s it was the only organisation with this ethos, though more have arisen which take that stance, too, nowadays.

I opened the ISCP in September 2011 after over two years of preparation, and we now have students and graduates in 64 countries.

The main ethos of the school is to provide a grounded, science-based education in a supportive, encouraging environment, and our students and graduates are viewed as valued members of our community. We have a private Facebook hub for members to ask questions, exchange views, and share information and insights, we hold webinars and case study sessions, and we send out regular newsletters.

Science moves fast – there’s so much fascinating research being conducted into dog behaviour, emotions and neuroscience nowadays that new studies and papers are being published frequently, so our courses are regularly updated to include the latest research results.

OUR ETHOS AND VALUES

Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, founder and director of the ISCP, with two of her dogs

Lisa Tenzin-Dolma with two of her dogs

We teach and recommend purely force-free, reward-based methods that enable people to develop strong bonds of trust with our students and graduates – not only with dogs, but with caregivers and other professionals, such as veterinarians and complementary therapists, with whom we liaise. We’re very aware that dog caregivers seeking professional help are often feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed, so as well as our behaviour-oriented regular webinars and case study Zoom meetings, our students are offered webinars that focus on how to support the humans in order to help the dogs they are called in to assess and work with.

The ISCP is the only education provider in the ‘dog world’ to offer large discounts on courses to rescue staff and volunteers, dog-related charities, and veterinary staff. This is because we have seen first-hand how this helps to successfully rehome many more dogs, and we encourage our charity and veterinary members to share what they have learned openly with other members of their teams. This means that there’s consistency in approach, handling, and behaviour therapy work within the teams.

The restrictions of the pandemic changed our ability to hold in-person practical study days, talks and workshops for our members and the general public, which is something we have done since the ISCP opened. However, now that it’s possible to get together with others, we have held our first reopening, an in-person workshop in Ayrshire, and are in a position to plan others in the UK.