Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians
Code of Conduct

The Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians (FABC or FAB Clinicians) has a Code of Conduct, which sets out certain minimum standards for conduct with which all of its members are required to comply. The Code is also supplemented by several other guidelines and statements on matters of ethics and conduct published by the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) and its Council and Committees, in particular the Code of Conduct for Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourists (CCABs) set by the ASAB Accreditation Committee. These set out standards of good practice at which animal behaviourists should aim. FABC members must also take account of further guidelines issued from time to time by ABTC, ASAB, RCVS and their Committees. Publication and dissemination of research with animal participants is specifically dealt with by the ASAB Ethics Committee: research with human subjects should follow the Code of Conduct, Ethical Principles, and Guidelines laid down by the British Psychological Society (BPS) for its members.

Any disciplinary function of FABC shall be guided by the FABC Code of Conduct, but mention or lack of mention in the Code of Conduct of a particular act or omission shall not be taken as conclusive on any question of professional conduct. Note that FABC also have other policies for its members to abide by, including an Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy, key governance principles, finance policy and the FABC Articles of Association, all of which are accessible through our web site (www.fabclinicians.org).

All FABC members have professional obligations to their clients, the animals they are helping, their employers (where relevant), to one another, to students, to colleagues in other disciplines (e.g. Veterinary Surgeon) and to society.

Note that any complaint made against an individual FABC Certificated Member in clinical animal behaviour practice will be dealt with solely by the ASAB Accreditation Committee (ASAB Acc), whereas any complaint made against a FABC Candidate Member or any other non-certificated members (including FABC Contributing Supporter Members and FABC Retired Members) will be dealt with by FABC.  FABC will also deal with any complaint made about any of its members that is outside the remit of ASAB Acc, or if a complaint is made against a group of its members.

1. General

FABC is a Community Interest Company, primarily enabling a network of independently accredited Clinical Animal Behaviourists (CABs) and those training to become independently accredited CABs. As such, FABC promotes the highest standard of practice in clinical animal behaviour and supports independent accreditation of clinical animal behaviourists conforming at least to the standards set by the ABTC and RCVS. Thus, all FABC Members support and contribute towards the mission statement of FABC. This is:

  • to promote evidence-based behavioural support for animals and their carers, to the highest scientific and welfare standards, in an empathetic and compassionate manner;
  • to forge strong links between animal carers, behaviourists and veterinary professionals;
  • and to support the development of independently accredited practitioners in the field of clinical animal behaviour through mentoring, continuing professional development and supportive fellowship.

A FABC Certificated Member is a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB), independently accredited by ASAB Acc, and fulfils the standards to be on the ABTC Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CAB) register.  This means they have expertise in dealing with the behaviour of individual animals, which has resulted in one or more of the following: a decrease in the quality of life of the animal, or its owner, or other animals or people; threat or potential threat to human or animal safety; nuisance or perceived nuisance to members of the public.

FABC Certificated Members have completed training to an approved level so that they have an understanding of the principles applicable to all relevant vertebrate species, but are required to indicate on the CCAB register those species in which they have acquired particular expertise. They are also required to specify if they are Non-practising on the CCAB register.

FABC Candidate Members are those working towards independent CAB (Clinical Animal Behaviourist) accreditation and must as a minimum be enrolled in or have completed a UK Government Qualification or FHEQ Level 5 or above, which contains at least one animal or psychology related unit.

FABC Retired Members are any clinicians who have previously been a Certificated Member of FABC, but are no longer on the FABC list of Certificated Members due to their cessation of employment in clinical animal behaviour (in any form), but who would like to continue to have the option to contribute their opinion regarding the development of FABC.  To become a Retired Member of FABC, the individual must have retired from their profession of their own choice and not due to any upheld complaint made against them to any accreditation organisation or FABC.

FABC Contributing Supporter Members need to demonstrate how they can contribute to FABC and its Certificated and Candidate Members through their qualifications, interest and experience complimentary to the field of clinical animal behaviour. For instance, they may lecture or research in animal behaviour, work in an animal welfare charity, or have skills that could be useful to FABC, for example IT or event management.

In all their work FABC members shall conduct themselves in a manner that does not bring into disrepute the discipline and the profession of animal behaviour. They shall value integrity, impartiality and respect for persons and evidence and shall seek to establish the highest ethical standards in their work. Taking account of their obligations under the laws of the countries in which they work, they shall hold the interest and welfare of those in receipt of their services to be paramount at all times and ensure that the interests of participants in any research are safeguarded. They must familiarise themselves and comply with all relevant legislation, including that regarding animal welfare and the provision of psychological services, and the codes of practice of the appropriate professional bodies, such as their accreditors, RCVS or BPS.

2. Competence

FABC members shall endeavour to maintain and develop their professional competence, to recognise and work within its limits, and to identify and ameliorate factors which restrict it.

Note that non-certificated FABC Members can only publicise themselves as the specific type of FABC membership they are a part of (e.g. ‘Candidate/Contributing Supporter/Retired Certificated Member of FAB Clinicians’) and cannot imply, for instance, they have current CCAB accreditation, or that they are ABTC registered, unless legitimately so through membership of another ABTC practitioner organisation. If legitimately registered with the ABTC, members must publicly state what type of practitioner register they are on (e.g. CAB or ATI).  FABC Contributing Supporter Members cannot advertise their FABC affiliation to gain clinical animal behaviour work.  FABC Certificated Members who are not practising should make their status clear on their public material (e.g. ‘Joe Bloggs CCAB (non-practising)’ ) and be mindful of this status in their work. While such members are not required to maintain a minimum caseload, they do need to keep their CPD up-to-date.

Specifically, they shall:

2.1 refrain from laying claim, directly or indirectly, to qualifications or affiliations they do not possess, from claiming competence in any particular area of applied animal behaviour in which they have not established their competence, and from claiming characteristics or capabilities for themselves or others which they do not possess;

2.2 recognise the boundaries of their own competence and not attempt to practise any form of applied animal behaviour for which they do not have an appropriate preparation or, where applicable, specialist qualification;

2.3 take all reasonable steps to ensure that their qualifications, capabilities or views are not misrepresented by others, and to correct any such misrepresentations;

2.4 where the services they judge to be appropriate are outside their personal competence, or when unable to provide the service required, give every reasonable assistance towards obtaining those services from others who are appropriately qualified to provide them, including referral onto an appropriately qualified veterinary behaviourist, particularly where medical interactions with the behaviour of the animal may be complex, or extensive medical investigation and/or psychoactive medication could be helpful;

2.5 only receive cases on written referral from the animal’s veterinary surgeon and take all reasonable steps to ensure that all actual and potential medical causes for problem behaviour in an animal have been identified by a veterinary surgeon prior to behavioural treatment;

2.6 take all reasonable steps to ensure that diagnosis and treatment of medical disorders that may be associated with a problem behaviour in an animal are carried out by a veterinary surgeon or other person designated as appropriate by relevant legislation;

2.7 if the member is not a veterinary surgeon, they may discuss adjunctive medical treatment of a behaviour case with the referring vet by referencing the current and established scientific literature, but the member must not in any way advise the client or the vet of the specific appropriate treatment, type or dose of medication – this remains the full legal responsibility of the referring veterinary surgeon;

2.8 if the member is not a veterinary surgeon, they must not give any specific form of physical health-related advice, including advice about dietary modification, pheromonatherapy, or complementary products with active chemical ingredients, without consulting the referring veterinary surgeon;

2.9 take all reasonable steps to ensure that those working under their direct supervision comply with each of the foregoing, in particular that they recognise the limits of their competence and do not attempt to practise beyond them.

3. Obtaining consent

FABC members shall normally carry out investigations or interventions only with the valid consent of participants, having taken all reasonable steps to ensure that they have adequately understood the nature of the investigation or intervention and its anticipated consequences.

Specifically, they shall:

3.1 refrain from making exaggerated, sensational and unjustifiable claims for the effectiveness of their methods and products, from advertising services or products in a way likely to encourage unrealistic expectations about the effectiveness of the services or products offered, or from misleading those to whom services are offered about the nature and likely consequences of any interventions to be undertaken;

3.2 normally obtain the written consent of those to whom interventions are offered, taking all reasonable steps to ensure that the consent obtained is valid;

3.3 recognise and uphold the rights of recipients of services to withdraw consent to interventions or other professional procedures after they have commenced and terminate or recommend alternative services when there is evidence that those in receipt of their services are deriving no benefit from them.

4. Confidentiality

FABC members shall maintain adequate records, but they shall take all reasonable steps to preserve the confidentiality of information acquired through their professional practice and to protect the privacy of individuals or organisations about whom information is collected or held. In general, and subject to the requirements of law, they shall take care to prevent the identity of individuals or organisations being revealed, deliberately or inadvertently, without their expressed permission.

Specifically, they shall:

4.1. endeavour to communicate information obtained through practice in ways which do not permit the identification of individuals or organisations;

4.2 convey personally identifiable information obtained in the course of professional work to others, only with the expressed permission of those who would be identified, (subject always to the best interests of recipients of services and subject to the requirements of law and agreed working practices) except that when working in a team or with collaborators, they shall endeavour to make clear to recipients of services or participants in research, the extent to which personally identifiable information may be shared between colleagues or others within a group receiving the services;

4.3 in exceptional circumstances, where there is sufficient evidence to raise serious concern about the safety or interests of recipients of services, or about others who may be threatened by the recipient’s behaviour, may take such steps as are judged necessary to inform appropriate third parties without prior consent after first consulting an experienced and disinterested colleague, except that where such information has been obtained from a member of another profession, the rules of that profession for such disclosure shall apply;

4.4 take all reasonable steps to ensure that records over which they have control remain personally identifiable only as long as is necessary in the interests of those to whom they refer, and to render anonymous any records under their control that no longer need to be personally identifiable for the above purposes;

4.5 only make audio, video, or photographic recordings of recipients of services with the expressed agreement of those being recorded both to the recording being made and to the subsequent conditions of access to it;

4.6 take all reasonable steps to safeguard the security of any records they make, including those held on computer;

4.7 take all reasonable steps to ensure that colleagues, staff, trainees and students with whom they work understand and respect the need for confidentiality regarding any information obtained.

5. Personal conduct

FABC members shall conduct themselves in their professional activities in a way that does not damage the interest of the recipients of their services and does not inappropriately undermine public confidence in their ability or that of other animal behaviourists and members of other professions to carry out their professional duties. 

Specifically, they shall:

5.1 refrain from improper conduct in their work as animal behaviourists that would be likely to be detrimental to the interests of recipients of their services or participants in their research;

5.2 neither attempt to secure or to accept from those receiving their service any significant financial or material benefit beyond that which has been contractually agreed, nor to secure directly from them any such benefit for services which are already rewarded by salary;

5.3 not exploit any relationship of influence or trust which exists between colleagues, those under their tuition, or those in receipt of their services to further the gratification of their personal desires;

5.4 not allow their professional responsibilities or standards of practice to be diminished by considerations of religion, sex, race, age, nationality, party politics, social standing, class, self-interest or other extraneous factors;

5.5 refrain from practice when their physical or psychological condition, as a result of for example alcohol, drugs, illness or personal stress, is such that abilities or professional judgement are seriously impaired;

5.6 value and have respect for all relevant evidence and the limits of such evidence when giving behavioural advice or expressing a professional opinion;

5.7 value and have respect for scientific evidence and the limits of such evidence when making public statements that provide information about animal behaviour and animal welfare;

5.8 refrain from claiming credit for the research and intellectual property of others and give due credit to the contributions of others in collaborative work;

5.9 take steps to maintain adequate standards of safety in the use of all procedures and equipment used in professional practice;

5.10 bring allegations of misconduct by a professional colleague to the attention of those charged with the responsibility to investigate them, doing so without malice and with no breaches of confidentiality other than those necessary to the proper investigatory processes and when the subject of allegations themselves, they shall take all reasonable steps to assist those charged with responsibility to investigate them.

6. Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure

Any complaints against individual FABC Certificated Members are dealt with by the ASAB Accreditation Committee (ASAB Acc), specifically when the complaint is about the individual’s misconduct in practising clinical animal behaviour. Details of how to make a complaint against a FABC Certificated Member can be seen here:


The FABC Committee has a procedure for dealing with complaints and issues relating to conduct to enable FABC to investigate allegations of misconduct against anyone that is a Candidate Member or some other non-certificated member (including Contributing Supporter Members and Retired Members). Moreover, FABC can investigate any complaint against a group of its members or about an individual in relation to a complaint that is outside the remit of ASAB Acc. What constitutes as being outside the remit of ASAB Acc is determined by ASAB Acc. All FABC investigations are conducted in private and FABC members must assist with the complaint investigation. Details of how to make a complaint about the conduct of a FABC member can be found below.

Anyone may make a complaint. This is not an exhaustive list, but includes members of the public, other FABC members, anyone who works within the veterinary or animal care profession, or other organisations.


6.1 Guide To Dealing With Complaints And Issues Relating To Conduct

The FABC Committee has a procedure for dealing with complaints and issues relating to conduct to enable FABC to investigate allegations of misconduct against anyone that is a current member of FABC. All FABC investigations are conducted in private and FABC members must assist with the complaint investigation process. There is no charge for making a complaint or for any part of the complaint investigation process. This section describes:

  • what we can investigate;
  • how to make a complaint;
  • how we will deal with your complaint.

We cannot investigate complaints about:

  • the conduct of an individual’s work in clinical animal behaviour who is a FABC Certificated Member, as this can only be investigated by ASAB Acc (unless ASAB Acc consider the complaint matter to be outside of their remit);
  • any matter which is the subject of court proceedings.

We can investigate your complaint if:

  • it is about the conduct of a FABC Candidate, Contributing Supporter or Retired Member, or any Member where the complaint is about a conduct issue relating to their membership;
  • it is a collective complaint about a group of FABC members;
  • it is about any individual FABC member in relation to an issue that is outside the remit of ASAB Acc.
What is misconduct relating to FABC membership?

We publish a Code of Conduct which sets out certain standards of conduct with which our members are expected to comply. The Code is supplemented by other guidelines and statements of good practice by which FABC members are expected to abide.

Misconduct relating to FABC membership will occur if members act outside the Code or guidelines and will include such things as:

  • failing to recognise the boundaries of their own competence;
  • failing to maintain the confidentiality of information acquired through their professional practice;
  • exploiting any relationship of trust or influence with a recipient of their services;
  • conducting themselves in a way that damages the interests of recipients of their services;
  • failing to obtain the consent of participants before undertaking investigations or interventions.

6.2 Complaints procedure

How does one make a complaint against a FABC member?

All complaints must be in writing. You can use the form below or write a letter. If you have any documents or other evidence which support your complaint please send us copies of these in the first instance, but retain the originals, which may be required at a later date and will be returned to you. If it is not possible for you to provide supporting documents or evidence, due to GDPR requirements for example, please provide an explanation.

6.3 Complaints form


Your details:

Full name:



Your email address (optional):

Your daytime telephone number (optional):

About your complaint:

Name and address of the FABC Member you want to complain about:





Please describe what you think the FABC Member has done wrong. If there are documents or other evidence which supports your complaint, please also send copies of them to us. If it is not possible for you to provide supporting documents or evidence, due to GDPR requirements for example, please provide an explanation.




What would you like FABC to do to resolve your complaint?





Important information:

In order to investigate your complaint, we may need to collect information about you and anyone else involved in this matter. We will use this information only to investigate your complaint and decide what action should be taken. If your complaint goes to a hearing, some of the information we have collected may have to be made public.

I consent to FABC collecting information about me for the purpose of investigating my complaint

Signature of complainant:


Please attach any documents which support your complaint and send this complaint form to:

Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians Committee
Erwwastad, Llwynteg, Llanelli, SA14 8JW

Please mark the envelope ‘Strictly confidential’.

Who deals with complaints?

Initially all complaints are considered by the FABC Committee, or by a FABC Conduct Subcommittee appointed by the main committee.

In addition to two or more FABC members, the Conduct Subcommittee may include “lay” representatives who will normally be members of ASAB Acc or invited nominees from other relevant professional bodies such as the ABTC, British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons with experience of the disciplinary processes within their own profession. The Honorary Secretary of the FABC Committee will take the chair. Alternatively, if this causes a conflict of interest, another committee member or nominated FABC member will take the chair. The FABC Conduct Subcommittee (organised by the original complaint handlers) has power to take action against any FABC Member within the scope of their terms of membership.

If the complaint directly relates to any member(s) of FABC Committee, those member(s) may be excluded from considering the complaint. Subject to the exact circumstances, other FABC Committee members may consider the complaint, or external appropriate professionals may be instructed to arbitrate.

What happens next?

When the FABC Committee receives a complaint:

  1. The precise details of the complaint will be ascertained, documented by complaint handlers and then submitted to the complainant for agreement.

2.If the complaint refers to independent parties who may be able to support the complaint, the FABC complaint handlers will clarify the validity of these.

  1. The FABC complaint handlers will contact those independent parties in writing, where appropriate, to clarify their supporting evidence.

The FABC complaint handlers will then contact the member that is the subject of the complaint in writing to explain the complaint details; to include the name of the complainant and those who have provided supporting evidence. Relevant documentation will be forwarded to the subject of the complaint. The subject of the complaint will not be asked to provide a response until in receipt of this information. When in receipt of this information, the subject of the complaint will be asked to respond in writing to the allegations within 14 business days. Extensions to this time period may be granted under extenuating circumstances.

Once it has received a response, the complaint handlers will consider all the evidence to hand. They may recommend:

  • that further investigation is not required because there is no evidence of misconduct, or;
  • that the complaint handlers undertake further enquiries into the allegations;
  • that negotiation or mediation between the complainant and the complainee should be attempted;
  • that the complaint handlers should write to the subject of the complaint to advise them that they have concerns about their conduct. The letter will set out the concerns and will remain as a permanent record on the FABC member’s membership records, or;
  • that a full hearing of the allegations of misconduct should take place.
What happens at Conduct hearings?

If the alleged offence is considered extreme, or if resolution is not reached by the complainant and complainee, the complainant and complainee will be asked to attend a chaired FABC meeting in relation to the complaint. This meeting should occur at a location, and on a date and time, which best considers all parties involved. Attendees will be given at least 28 days’ notice of this meeting. If the complainant or complainee declines to attend this meeting, the meeting may proceed in their absence. Hearings usually last one day.

The subject of the complaint may present his or her own case or be represented by a person of their choice. If the subject wishes to present their own case, they are entitled to be accompanied by another person during the hearing; however, while the accompanying person can liaise with the subject, they are not permitted to answer questions on the subject’s behalf.

The Conduct Subcommittee will decide whether the FABC Member is guilty of misconduct under the terms of their membership. The Committee shall be guided by the FABC Code of Conduct but the mention or lack of mention in the Code of Conduct of a particular act or omission shall not be taken as conclusive on any question of conduct. In the event that it finds an individual guilty of misconduct the Conduct Committee may take one or more of the following courses of action:

  • reprimand or severely reprimand the FABC member;
  • require the FABC member to give written undertakings as deemed appropriate by the Committee, for a period not exceeding three years. The undertakings, which may include undertakings to refrain from continuing or repeating the offending conduct, may be reviewed no sooner than one year after they commence, by referral to a further Disciplinary Subcommittee hearing;
  • suspend the FABC member from the FABC Membership List, the period of suspension to be determined by the Committee, but not to exceed three years, and to attach conditions to the suspension as and if deemed necessary by the Committee;
  • permanently remove the FABC member from the FABC Membership List;
  • permanent expulsion from all types of FABC’s membership categories;
  • place conditions upon the membership of the individual as deemed appropriate by the Committee. Those conditions may be appealed, removed or varied by way of a Committee hearing;
  • any breach of conditions imposed by a Conduct Committee will be referred to a further hearing of the Committee, where the Committee may remove, amend or replace the conditions with any penalty available to it.

The subject of the complaint has a right of appeal against any decision of the Conduct Committee. Details of the Appeals Procedure can be found below.

Further information

If after reading this, you are unsure what to do next please contact the FABC Committee Honorary Secretary. He/she can advise you (or the subject of your complaint) about the complaints procedure at all stages of the process. They cannot advise on the particular merits of any complaint or potential complaints, however.

7. Liability

The Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians (FABC) shall not be liable to any of its members for any claims, losses, damages or other expenses (either direct, special or consequential) arising as a result of any dispute between a FABC member and its client or a third party in relation to any professional advice or treatment given. FABC members shall hold professional indemnity insurance at an adequate level and sufficient to meet any liabilities which might arise as a result of their professional practice. FABC membership and renewal of membership shall be dependent upon the production of proof of such insurance and shall be deemed to have been withdrawn if such insurance lapses.

8. Descriptions

Only animal behaviourists who are currently FABC Certificated Members with a current CCAB accreditation certificate may claim to be a FABC Certificated Member and use the title ‘Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist’ once they have applied for and been accepted for certification by ASAB Acc. If anyone whose name is not on the CCAB Register were to use the title ‘Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist’ the ASAB Acc would seek an injunction or to take other legal measures to restrain the person concerned from wrongly appropriating a title which may be used only by those whose names are entered on the CCAB Register. Possession of the qualifications sufficient for CCAB is not adequate in itself, as eligibility for CCAB is also dependent on giving assent to this Code of Conduct and the CCAB Code of Conduct. Only those who have actually registered with ASAB Acc and agreed to abide by the CCAB Code of Conduct may use the protected title ‘Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist’.

Once on the CCAB Register all Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourists are encouraged to use the new title or the abbreviation ‘CCAB’ (but no other) as often as possible: it is important to note that no variants of the abbreviation of ‘CCAB’ are permitted. Only if those on the CCAB Register routinely use the title in professional contexts, on case reports, on publications, in their advertisements and on their letter paper will the public be able to rely on the title as the means of knowing they are dealing with a bona fide behaviourist who is recognised as properly qualified by ASAB Acc. Following the convention adopted by other professions it will be usual for the abbreviation ‘CCAB’ to be placed immediately after the list of a Member’s degrees and diplomas (e.g. Jo Smith, BSc, PhD, CCAB).  It should be noted that all FABC members should not use ‘FABC’ or derivatives as a post-nominal (e.g. ‘MFABC’), as membership to FABC is not a qualification of any kind.

Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourists (CCABs) are not entitled to use ASAB’s “grebes” logo, but may use the CCAB logo. If they are Certificated Members of FABC, then they may also use the FABC logo. Likewise, FABC Certificated Members can use the ABTC CAB logo if they have paid their annual ABTC registration fees.

It is important to note that all FABC Candidate, Contributing Supporter and Retired Members cannot under any circumstances claim or imply they are a current FABC Certificated Member or a current CCAB. Likewise, non-certificated FABC Members cannot use the CCAB logo. All FABC Members may use the FABC logo, but only if they make clear in all their marketing materials and other documents what specific type of FABC Member they are (i.e. that they are a ‘FABC Candidate Member’ or a ‘FABC Contributing Supporter Member’).  FABC Contributing Supporter and Retired Members cannot advertise their affiliation to FABC to gain clinical animal behaviour work.  FABC Candidate Members may be able to claim they are on one or multiple ABTC registers, but only if they are a registered ABTC practitioner who is a member of another practitioner organisation that is part of the ABTC – in which case they will fall under the codes of conduct of that other practitioner organisation, as well as the ABTC Code of Conduct.