5 Reasons to invest in an accredited course with us!

By Alison

Wed 27th Jul 2022

5 Reasons to invest in an accredited course with us!

 Since 2016 fellow dog behaviourist Sandra Gilliland and I have been running Accredited Dog Training Courses through the Open College Network (OCN) in Northern Ireland to teach people different aspects of dog behaviour but also resulting in an accredited course at the end. In that time, we have taught over100 students and helped them understand dog behaviour and developed or changed to canine careers as a pet minder, dog walker, sanctuary worker, kennel assistant, groomer or veterinary nurse.

Both myself and Sandra prior to becoming dog behaviourists had totally different careers.

Up until the age of 40 I Robin ran a flower wholesale. At the age of 30 with lots of other major life changes going on at the same time I got an Airedale Terrier, started training it and was so fascinated with canine behaviour that I decided to change direction totally and become a dog trainer myself.

What started with dog training resulted in representing Northern Ireland at Crufts with my Airedale Terrier. I’ve also been a dog walker, helped run a successful boarding kennels and worked for Mid Antrim Animal sanctuary helping with training rescue dogs.

Over the years my business has evolved to the stage I'm at now offering dog training 5-week training classes, one on one dedicated session to resolve behavioural issues and online courses.

Sandra has a degree in Health Studies and then obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling (CABC). http://dogtraining-dogbehaviourni.com/about-me/ and has lots of practical experience.

Both of us have always been interested in self-development are constantly learning and are members of associations we believe are ethical and set high standards for animal training such as the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC), the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

If you are thinking about becoming a dog trainer there are literally 1000’s of courses to choose which vary greatly in how they are delivered, duration, price and qualification /accreditation you get at the end! 

Sandra and I decided from the start to offer an accredited course and after lots of research applied to be a recognised training centre with the Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI). OCN NI is a Nationally Recognised Awarding organisation which offers high quality flexible, credit-based qualifications.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation courses are awarded only by bodies which are strictly regulated. As an OCN recognised centre this means for example that for the courses we deliver for OCN that we have to adhere to all their procedures, maintain the standard they set for our courses, ensure the resources we provide meet all criteria and pass regular audits to make sure we are adhering to the rules.

Making the decision to develop your skills if you are already in a canine career or deciding to change totally into that direction means a significant amount of investment in terms of your time and money so here are 5 Reasons you should invest in one of our OCN Courses:

  1. Tutors Robin Bates and Sandra Gilliland were the first people to bring an accredited OCN training course around dog behaviour to N. Ireland and have 60 years' combined experience 

  2. Completing an OCN accredited course gives you a professional qualification. The OCN NI is a regulated Awarding Organisation based in Northern Ireland and is regulated by CCEA Regulation in Northern Ireland to develop and award professional and technical (vocational) qualifications from Entry Level up to and including Level 5 across all sector areas. OCN NI is also regulated by Ofqual to award similar qualification types in England.

  3. Having an accredited course gives you more kudos if you are looking to change career

  4. We work with dogs at Mid-Animal Sanctuary for both our Practical Dog Training and Principles of Dog Training and Behaviour courses. As some of these dogs are rescued, it means they may have behavioural issues so it’s a good training field for recognising dog behaviour in the real world.

  5. As with all training courses and classes offered by Robin Bates Dog Training, we concentrate solely on reward-based training using positive reinforcement. This means that we use a reward (treats, praise, toys, anything the dog finds rewarding) for desired behaviours. Rewarding a dog means it is more likely to repeat the behaviour so positive reinforcement is one of your most powerful tools for shaping or changing your dog's behaviour.


Upon successful completion of an OCN course with us, you’ll be presented with a Professional Certificate. This is an industry recognised certificate which will go a long way to helping you look credible


Upcoming Courses

Keep an eye on our OCN Courses Page for all upcoming OCN Accredited Courses:


Reach out to us if you too are thinking of changing career. 20 years after I started training my first dog I certainly have no regrets!