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Dog Trainer Fends Off Dissatisfied Client’s Breach of Contract Claim

The courts will only imply contractual obligations that are realistically achievable. In one unusual case on this point, a judge rejected a breach of contract claim against a professional dog trainer who was said to have failed in her duty to reform the behaviour of a miscreant puppy.

The Fox Terrier’s owner had sent her on a two-week intensive course with the trainer who, she claimed, had promised to stop her nipping, jumping up, chewing furniture and barking. On returning home, however, the puppy was said to have swiftly returned to her old ways and become uncontrollable. The owner sued the trainer for the return of the £2,800 she had spent on the puppy’s schooling, but her claim was rejected by a district judge.

In dismissing her appeal against that ruling, a more senior judge noted that the trainer had been dealing with a puppy, not a machine. The trainer had given no guarantee that the course would permanently resolve the terrier’s behavioural issues and any statement to that effect would have been unrealistic.

The trainer had achieved some, if not all, of her objectives in schooling the boisterous puppy. The owner lived in a one-bedroom inner city flat and there was evidence that a failure to adequately exercise and discipline the puppy after her return home caused or contributed to the regression in her behaviour.

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