Why Go With A Certified Professional Dog Trainer?
The fact of the matter is, the profession of dog training is a completely unregulated industry. Put it in perspective, and this would be like taking your dog to a veterinarian that has never taken courses or been tested in any way, to become a veterinarian!
Now to be honest, when I first started training over 20 years ago, there were not a lot of outlets for dog trainers to get an education in this field. I have met some self-taught trainers over the years that were actually quite amazing, but those few, dedicated trainers are well outweighed by the dog trainers that just owned dogs, showed dogs, or bred dogs and didn’t think any additional education was needed past their own personal experience. Well, I’m here to tell you, there is sooo much more to it than that! This is definitely a profession that requires ALOT of education, and if we go back to the veterinarian scenerio, it would be like me saying, “Hey, I’ve owned dog’s my whole life. I can do that surgery!”
Finding a dog trainer in your area that is Certified will definitely give you some piece of mind that the person you are working with is truly educated in the field.
Where Do You Find A Certified Professional Dog Trainer?
Well, you are in luck, because if you are reading this you have found one! Unfortunately, in the area we live in Brevard County, FL there are MANY trainers, yet only 3 others, including myself, have been Certified at the time of writing this, and I am the only one that not only offers private lessons, but group classes on everything from obedience, enrichment classes, workshops/seminars and sporting classes at our indoor training facility located in Rockledge.
While there are a few different organizations that have started to develop certification processes, the main governing body for this industry’s professionals is the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Please check out their website to learn all about them.
What is Required for a Dog Trainer to Become Certified?
- The trainer must have letters of recommendation from other already Certified trainers to even be considered to take the certification exam.
- The trainer must have a minimum of 300 logged hours of training under their belt to be considered for testing as well.
- Upon approval from the council, the trainer must pass a timed 250 question exam given by a professional testing company. The exam covers a variety of subject matters including instructional skills, learning theory, ethology, equipment and animal husbandry.
- All Certified trainers must adhere to a Code of Ethics per our industry standards. They are also encouraged to provide their training skills to help others in the field. You will find that many Certified Trainers not only help pet parents, but also give workshops/seminars to help other trainers, have written books, lecture at conferences/expos, etc.
- Continuing education is required to keep certification current! Just as your kid’s teacher has to keep up-to-date on the latest information, so does your dog trainer! A certain amount of credits are required to keep certification valid so trainers are educated on new techniques, studies, etc. I think this alone, is probably the most important part. In this profession, you never stop learning. I have been training for over 20 years, and I will never know it all. (If you meet a trainer that thinks he/she does, find a new trainer!)
Find the Best Fit for Your Family
Now, if you are out of our area reading this and are looking for a trainer, you can easily go to the CCPDT website and do a search close to you. However, here are some additional steps to help you find, not only a Certified Trainer, but a good fit for your family. (taken directly from the website)
- Look for the following credentials after a trainer’s name. CPDT-KA, CPDT-KSA or CBCC-KA
- Check out the trainer. Browse the trainer’s website and any other marketing materials. Does everything look and sound professional? Do the messages appeal to you? If so, set up a phone call or in-person meeting. Can the trainer answer your questions about training, behavior, and methods knowledgeably and clearly? Is she (or he) patient and thorough in her replies? Do you feel comfortable with her? Does she have experience working with the problems you need help with? Can she provide references from clients?
- Beware of Red Flags. A couple of things should raise a red flag in your assessment. If the trainer focuses on a model of dominance and submission. Using language like “dominant” and “alpha” —or uses primarily punishment based methods. A trainer that does these, does not meet the standards of science-based training.
I hope this helps you gain a little knowledge in your search for a great trainer, and if you live close by, we hope to see your dog in training classes here at Rockin’ Dawgs soon! We want your training journey with your dog to be a happy and productive one. They are a part of your family and deserve only the best!