How to obtain dog training certification

Now that you’ve finished training your dog, you realize that you’ve enjoyed the process so much that you’re contemplating changing careers and make dog training your new job.

If you are patient, good with people and dogs, and don’t mind any of the less pleasant features of having or training dogs, and deep down inside your heart you feel that your purpose in life is help train dogs & their owners, then pursuing a career as a certified dog trainer may be the right path to follow.

While there are no national or even international standard criteria for dog training certification, certain organizations do offer credentials that are recognized throughout the industry. Getting certified has its advantages over simply learning your craft and hanging your shingle:

  • Shows that you are a professional
  • Lets your clients know you are up to date on industry standards
  • Helps reduce the fee for your liability insurance

So, what should you look for when choosing an organization to get certified ?

  • A fully formed organization with board of directors and clear listing of required skills
  • Exacting standards and multi-leveled certifications
  • Skills testing beyond a written test

The following three organizations offer dog training certification and enjoy the highest reputations in the industry.

International Association of Canine Professionals

The International Association of Canine Professionals is an international certifying organization that offers 3 levels of dog training certification:

Certified Dog Trainer certification (CDT)

The Certified Dog Trainer certification program leads to a basic level of certification. It starts with a written exam, plus recommendations from clients and case study forms on three dogs you have worked with.

Certified dog trainer Advanced (CDTA)

Once you have obtained the Certified Dog Trainer certification, you can then apply for the Certified dog trainer Advanced certification. This level requires required video taped evidence of your skills plus another exam.

Professional Dog Training Instructor certification (PDTI)

The Professional Dog Training Instructor certification program requires that you have been a certified dog trainer for at least a year, a IACP member in good standing and have built up 250 hours of training instruction before you can take the exam.

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. To get certified you’ll need to pass a written exam and a skills assessment. Additionally, a certain number of continuing hours of education are required to keep the certification current. They also offer classes and education to help members stay updated on the most current developments in dog training.

National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors

One of the oldest organizations of its kind, the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors also has a code of ethics and a set of basic standards that you need to adhere to if you want to become a member. They guide their members to find the best dog training schools and keep a database of certified members and their instructor level.
One of the most useful tools on their website is a list of events, both nationally and regionally, where budding dog trainers can meet to gain extra experience.