Dog training

How do get dog training certification and become a professional dog trainer

You’ve trained your dog, your friends’ dogs and even aunt Alice’s mean poodle. As you have enjoyed the process of training these dogs, you have come to realize that you have a knack for this profession and are considering becoming a full time professional dog trainer. Where should you go from there and get a dog training certification which will allow you to be able to manage practically any dog and eventually become a certified dog trainer?

The right place to start is to find a dog training certification agency with a good reputation. You want to make sure you find one that has:

  • a good history of training
  • a standardized testing procedure
  • multi-level certifications

We recommend finding an agency that is run as a non-profit organization. The advantage with these types of agencies is that their standards are not skewed by commercial influences. Most of the reputable agencies will require you to have extensive experience and/or testing before you can be considered to get certified. Bear in mind too that there are usually fees to be paid to get and stay certified.

Dog trainer certification organizations

The following two organizations are the best place to start if you want to get certified as a professional dog trainer.

Certified Council for Professional Dog Trainers

The CCPDT is an international organization that offers training credentials that include standardized written testing, skills tests and continuing education requirements. They review their exams every two years to make sure they are still meeting the most up to date information in the field of dog training and animal behavior.

To get dog training certification issued by the CCPDT, you need to have a minimum of 300 hours of hands-on training experience, plus recommendations from colleagues, a client and a veterinarian. The certification also requires that you take and pass a detailed written exam.

To become a Certified Dog Behavior Specialist, which is an even more intensive specialty, you have to follow the same rigorous path, and which will require you to have a minimum of 500 hours of training experience.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

The IAABC provides certification for behavior specialists for different kinds of animals, including dogs. To get certified, you’ll need a minimum of 300 hours of experience with a client plus 150 hours of coursework in seminars and mentorships. Additionally, you have to take and pass a test and submit three detailed case studies about your experiences training the animal.

Apart from the above two organizations that offer the highest level of professional certification, there are other organizations that don’t offer certification programs, but that help budding professional dog trainers in other ways.

National Association of Dog Obedience Trainers

The NADOI offers a code of ethics as well as a lengthy list of standards that you will be required to hold if you want to be eligible to become a member.
The membership requires a certain number of hours of training, both as group lessons and as private classes. You will also need to write an essay that details your  training methods and general knowledge of dog training.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers

The APDT is another reputable organization which focuses on a variety of aspects of dog training. They organize an annual conference, educational opportunities and several networking venues. All that is required to become a member is an annual membership fee.

Do you have what it takes?

As with any serious profession, you have to be willing to invest money and time to train both yourself as dogs if you have the ambition to become a certified dog trainer.

The rewards however are considerable, as you’ll not only be able to spend practically all of your time with the animals that you adore, but will on top of that have the opportunity to contribute significantly to the happiness of both dogs, dog owners and yourself!