Two of Paws Abilities’ instructors, Julia and Linda, and one assistant, Katie, recently earned their dog training certifications through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Congratulations, ladies!
They join Sara, Shalise, Sarala, Lindsay, and Sandy from Paws Abilities (as well as other local trainers Cris and Karen from Canine Trainers and Aditi of Urbane Animal Behavior). Three other Paws Abilities instructors, Shelly, Crystal, and Rick, are still accruing training hours towards their own certification.
So, what does certification mean, and why does it matter?
The first thing to know about certification is that there are many dog training certifications out there, but not all are created equal. Many schools offer certificates to students who pay for and complete their programs. If your trainer says that she or he is certified, it’s important to check where the certification came from. Unless it comes from an independent testing agency, I would recommend caution. The CCPDT is the only organization at this time offering a standardized test that is both psychometrically sound and independent of any course of study.
To become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a person must have 300 hours of training experience and provide letters of reference from a veterinarian, client, and colleague. She or he must also pass a standardized test with questions on ethology, learning theory, business practices & ethics, equipment, instruction skills, and animal husbandry. Once certified, that person needs to recertify every 3 years with a minimum of 36 continuing education credits, which are earned through further study at animal behavior conferences, webinars, seminars, and/or university classes.
Certification is very important and shows that a trainer is a professional who is dedicated to continuing education. However, it should not be the only thing a potential client assesses when deciding whether to work with a trainer. Hands-on experience, a dedication to humane methods, and a compatible personality are equally important.
In future posts, we’ll explore other things to look for in a trainer as well as red flags to avoid. In the meantime, please share in the comments below how you chose your dog’s trainer. Was certification important to you, and what other things did you consider? We look forward to hearing from you!