Trainer Application

Spencer’s Story:

At less than a year old, Spencer came into rescue after running loose for a month. Terrified of people, he had to learn the most basic behaviors in his foster home, like using stairs or walking on a leash. Spencer, a handsome Doberman, was adopted, but quickly returned. A second family adopted him but returned him because of barking. The adoptive family had placed a shock collar on him and burned him to the skin, leaving permanent scars. When Spencer was returned this time, his foster family needed to teach Spencer to overcome fearful behaviors created from adverse training and a lack of stability. Luckily, his next—and final—adoptive home was committed to continuing to help Spencer build a rich, full life. In March 2019, Spencer passed away at the age of 12 surrounded by his favorite people. His legacy lives on through the work being done by Spencer Group, scholarship recipients, and community partners.

The Spencer Scholarship was created to ensure that more dogs in rescue receive the support they need to find loving, permanent families. It is a very personal scholarship created for dogs in need of compassionate trainers and to assist the dedicated people working in rescue.


The Spencer Scholarship program has been developed through a partnership between local trainers and Spencer Group to provide support for dog rescue groups with limited training resources. Our intent is to assist the rescue community in improving animal welfare by providing high-quality, humane training using methods that have the lowest likelihood of causing secondary behavioral issues. We will do this through partner trainers who use techniques intended to improve the dog’s likelihood of permanent placement into loving homes and improve their overall well-being.

The Spencer Scholarship program has been created to ensure that:

  1. dogs in rescue will have access to high quality, humane training and, as a result, will be more adoptable, and
  2. fosters and others in rescue will have access to humane training methods that may not be currently available to them.

What are the criteria to train with this program?

  1. Genuine compassion for dogs
  2. Demonstrated ongoing commitment to and involvement in rescue
  3. Willingness to work exclusively with humane methods while training within this program
  4. Completion of one or more professional training programs that advocate R+ methodology

Trainer statement:

All trainers working through the Spencer Scholarship program commit to working exclusively with positive methods, meaning they will not use any tool or technique that is designed to be aversive and/or cause the dog intimidation, distrust, stress, anxiety, fear, or pain. They are experienced trainers who are knowledgeable about current training techniques and have a demonstrated commitment to working with rescues and behavioral cases.

Assigning trainers:

Members of the Spencer Group Training Committee will review applications for training and will nominate trainers to assist with a case referral based on factors including, but not limited to, experience with and interest in certain canine behaviors, geographical location, and time since last Spencer Scholarship case referral. Spencer Group Training Committee members will reach out to a nominated trainer within 48 hours of receiving a Spencer Scholarship application. The Training Committee requests that the contacted trainer reply within 72 hours, or the trainer’s earliest convenience, letting the Committee know availability and interest. Once a trainer accepts a case referral, he/she will be put in contact with the rescue and foster Home to schedule an initial consultation.


For private sessions, trainers will be compensated $100 per hour of training and $0.75 per mile over 25 miles one-way, to be paid directly through Spencer Group after the trainer submits an invoice. Initially, all approved recipients of the Spencer Scholarship will be eligible for up to 1 hour of private training, with the potential for additional hours based on review of the Spencer Group Training Committee. At this time, group classes are awarded on a case-by-case basis through previously approved Spencer Scholarship trainers.

Thank you for your interest in training with the Spencer Scholarship! Please view the following application as an opportunity to tell Spencer Group Training Committee about yourself and to describe your training methodology. Because the committee will be using your answers to determine your suitability for the program, we ask that you provide comprehensive answers to any open-ended questions.

Code of Conduct

While training in through Spencer Group, trainers are prohibited from using tools or techniques created or used with the intent to cause intimidation, distrust, stress, anxiety, fear, pain, and/or injury, including anything that has the potential to cause physical, psychological, or emotional harm.

Because the following tools or techniques come with a high risk of misuse, abuse, or malfunction, they are not to be used by participating trainers: choke chains, pinch collars, shock equipment, alpha rolls and other forms of pushing, unnecessary restraint, punishing and/or intimidation or domination, flooding, hanging, kicking, or hitting of any kind, or any tool or technique that is designed to be aversive and/or causes the dog intimidation, distrust, stress, anxiety, fear, or pain.

I certify that the answers provided above reflect an honest description of my training methods and philosophy and that I will abide by the conditions of the Code of Conduct. I understand that, if I am approved to train through the Spencer Scholarship program, I will be retained by Spencer Group. I will provide a write up of each visit in a within one week of my visit that details my observations as well as my recommendations to Spencer Group, the rescue representative, and the foster home.

I further indicate that I will be presenting myself as a representative of Spencer Group and the Spencer Scholarship, and in that capacity, I will neither market additional services nor my business to the rescue during training sessions.

By submitting this application and signing it, I confirm that, when training dogs within the Spencer Scholarship program, affiliates who are employed through my organization and I commit to use force-free training, practices, and methods that comply with the Code of Conduct. I, along with representatives of my organization, will use no shock, pain, choke, fear, physical force or molding, or compulsion-based methods to train dogs through the Spencer Scholarship program and understand that failure to comply with this code will result in me and my affiliates being removed as trainers on this list for a minimum of one (1) year.

I also understand that both Spencer Group and I, along with my affiliates, reserve the right to withdraw from this partnership at anytime with written notice.