Heelwork to Music in the UK

The Kennel Club Accredited Instructors Scheme (KCAI)

What is the scheme about?

The scheme began in 2001 and whether you are thinking about starting a career in dog training and/or canine behaviour, or already involved in delivering canine related advice, the KCAI scheme offers you a  teaching qualification that recognises your unique knowledge and experience. It does not teach you how to be a dog trainer or a behaviourist or how to become say a dog warden but it does acknowledge and celebrate your level of achievements within the dog world and you as a dog trainer. It also highlights what you do know about dogs and all that you need to know when running classes or events. But it also highlights areas that you may be lacking in such as your knowledge in health and safety, class planning or movement and conformation, and allows you to address those areas to improve your level of service you give to members of the public.

Who is it suitable for?

It is suitable for everyone working on a one-to-one basis or in a broader class environment, the scheme enables you to become accredited in your chosen canine discipline(s); not just Heelwork to Music but also in  agility; competition obedience; companion dog and the Canine Good Citizens Awards, to name but a few.

How does it work?

The scheme is modular based and designed to explore and evaluate your knowledge and experience in three key areas; what you know; what you do and; how you teach. It can be completed by yourself at home or within a support group. You are credited with everything you have done, to-date, with dogs. This means that every course or seminar you may have done; every book you have read; every progress award or show you have partaken in; every judging appointment or progress award assessment you have undertaken, all contribute to your individual profile on our unique scoring and portfolio system. And that’s not all; even all of your training in other areas outside of the dog world all contribute as well, so if you are a teacher or lecturer then those years of experience also count or if you have worked with and/or trained other animals such as horses then that counts too. You actually know more than you realise.

You complete your road to accreditation at your own pace and in your own time; there is no time limit – it can take you months from enrolment to accreditation or years; the decision is yours.

Will I receive help?

Yes. When you join the scheme you will have access to a range of services to help you achieve accreditation. There is a network of Regional Mentors across the country to help you through the paperwork and the process. They hold regular workshops and mentoring sessions to help you achieve your goals and to help you with any queries and questions.

Another key feature is the KCAI Member Zone, a special area of the Kennel Club website for scheme members only, which include educational materials and advice about every section of every module as well as lots of information and fun educational features. The quarterly newsletter “The Standard” is also packed with lots of information to help you to progress through the Scheme and develop your knowledge.

What does the gold badge mean?

The Kennel Club wants the KCAI Scheme Gold badge logo to become the mark of quality in dog training and canine services – just like the British Standards Institute “Kite mark” – everyone knows that this indicates quality practitioners who had passed stringent assessments. The KCAI logo will help differentiate “good” dog training instructors with genuine experience, knowledge and expertise from the “charlatans” who may not have experience and skill and be motivated only by financial concerns. We believe dogs and their owners suffer if dog training is seen as a means of “getting rich quick” and sadly quite a few people see dog training as just that.

Moreover, every person joining the scheme, whether working towards accreditation or having gained accreditation is signed up the KCAI Code of Practice. Please click here for further details or refer to the M Regulations in the Kennel Club Year Book.

What do the letters KCAI actually mean after someone’s name?

Once you have become accredited an instructor is entitled to use the initials KCAI with their area(s) of accreditation. For example, if you see an individual’s name followed by KCAI (HTM*, CD) then you know they have gained accreditation in Heelwork to Music at Advanced level and Companion Dog at ordinary level. Once accredited, you can also use the Gold Badge logo on your advertising material and you are listed on the Kennel Club website as an Accredited Instructor under the subjects you have been accredited in.

Interested to learn more about the scheme?

Then click here

Or you can talk to Gina Pink at shows or progress awards (but not when she is giving time to her own dogs please ?) Alternatively you can contact her at

How does this apply to Heelwork to Music?

Currently there are only three KCAI Heelwork to Music Accredited Instructors in the UK. The first was Annie Clayton, followed by Gina Pink and Margaret Booth. But we are pleased to report there are many more currently working towards accreditation in this sport.

Annie Clayton was a mentor, assessor, editor of The Standard and sat on the KCAI Board until recently and Gina is now the Heelwork to Music “Sign Off Expert”; a KCAI Regional Mentor for South Central and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and a KCAI Recruitment Officer.

What is a KCAI Sign Off Expert?

This is the person who checks your B modules, both for accreditation and supporting, as you progress through the paperwork on your way to gaining the Gold Badge.

What Gina and Margaret Have to say about the Scheme


In truth I became involved in the scheme because Annie Clayton talked me into it, but I am very glad now that she did. It took me years to complete but only because I was so involved in helping to develop our sport in other areas and also quite frankly had a “life” the same as everyone. The scheme does take dedication and time and I was often in short supply of both but in 2012 I decided it was time I just get on with it and by September 2012 I had completed my paperwork and was assessed by Di Morgan and Angela White in Competition Obedience and Heelwork to Music, becoming the first person to be accredited in two competitive sports. By November 27 2012 the KCAI Board approved my accreditation and I was presented with my certificate at Crufts; seen here with Chairman of the Board Paul Rawlings; Vice Chairman Angela White and a Purina Representative. Photograph kindly supplied by Michelle Dodson.

I truly believe in the Scheme and how it benefits the level of service given to members of the public. There are too many people calling themselves dog trainers and/or behaviourists in the UK that are quite frankly causing more harm than good; they are not insured and have little to no knowledge of dogs or how to communicate with their owners. Furthermore, if you have been accredited, believe me you have earned the privilege to wear the Gold Badge.

I honestly believed that being accredited would not have any bearing on my life but I was wrong and I am willing to admit that. Becoming accredited has formally acknowledged my level of expertise and dedication to the welfare of dogs, and this in turn has been recognised by members of the public, tv companies and other organisations throughout the UK.

I am now a Regional Mentor for South Central and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and love the job. I have the privilege of helping others through the Scheme and share their pleasure when they too are accredited. Moreover, in 2014 I helped to write the new Dog Walkers module and I am currently working towards accreditation in companion dog and dog walking.


I found the Scheme very time consuming in that it virtually took over my life for at least nine months. And I had done quite a bit of preparatory work prior to that. I found some parts of it quite repetitive and hence irritating but bit between the teeth I determined to get to the end. The way it is laid out now though is certainly easier to understand and get to grips with than in the early days - which are why I stopped working on it for some time. I found the benefits from accreditation mainly to be self fulfilment and achievement.

So who will be the next person to bear KCAI HTM after their name?

For further details on the scheme please email if you live in the South of England or if you live north of Birmingham. Or visit for more information on the scheme

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