Dog Trainer Certification

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While certification is not a requirement for dog trainers, there are many training programs and internships that offer certifications to enhance a trainer’s credentials. Here is a sampling of some popular certification program options for those hoping to work in this business:

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is perhaps the best-known program for dog trainers and offers two certification levels: CPDT-KA and CPDT-KSA.

In November of 2013 there were 2,386 CPDT- In November of 2013 there were 2,386 CPDT-KAs and 121 CPDT-KSAs worldwide.  Exams are administered each spring and fall to qualified applicants.

The CPDT-KA (Knowledge Assessed) requirements include documentation of at least 300 hours of dog training within the last 3 years, passing a 250 multiple choice question exam, submitting an attestation statement from a CPDT member or veterinarian, and signing a code of ethics. The CPDT-KSA (Knowledge and Skills Assessed) requirements include holding a current CPDT-KA credential, uploading a passport photo, submitting a video of four designated training exercises (using 4 different and unfamiliar dogs), submitting a video of the candidate coaching three clients with different dogs, and maintaining continuing education requirements.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) offers two canine-focused certification levels: Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (ACDBC) and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC).

Continuing education hours are required to keep a trainer’s certification current.

ACDBC requirements include at least 300 completed hours of animal behavior consulting with clients, 150 hours of education, two case studies, species-specific knowledge, assessment skills, and letters of recommendation.

CDBC requirements include 3 years (500 hours) of animal behavior consulting with clients, 400 hours of education, 3 written case studies, discussion of 4 case scenarios, questions relating to species-specific knowledge and assessment skills, and letters of recommendation.

Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP)

The Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP) offers a Certified Dog Trainer program (AABP-CDT). Requirements include 300 hours of professional training within the last five years, 30 hours of supervised skills development, proof of insurance, a proficiency exam, and two references. A Behavior Consultant certification path is also available.

Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor (CBATI)

The Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor (CBATI) program is offered around the world (United States, Europe, and Australia) and is designed for trainers working with aggressive and fearful dogs.  Certification is valid for 3 years. To become a Certified BAT Instructor a candidate must have at least 200 hours of training experience, submit a practical skills assessment (on video), and pass a written exam with essay components. Trainers who complete a 5 day BAT Instructor course can take the exam at no cost (a $300 value).

International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)

The International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) offers a Certified Dog Trainer certification (IACP-CDT). Applicants for certification must have at least two years of experience in dog training and at least 6 months of membership with the IACP. After passing the CDT exam, a candidate becomes eligible to take the CDTA (Certified Dog Trainers Advanced) exam, which also includes a video evaluation of the trainer’s skills.

National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)

The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) is billed as the oldest certification organization for dog trainers, as it was established in 1965. Certified membership involves a minimum of five years experience in obedience training (with at least 2 years as head instructor), experience working with at least 100 dogs, documenting time spent teaching either groups (at least 104 hours) or private lessons (at least 288 hours), and passing a written essay test.

Additional specialty certification areas include Puppy, Novice, Open, Utility, Tracking, and Basic Agility.

Karen Pryor Academy

The Karen Pryor Academy (KPR) offers a six month Dog Trainer Professional program leading to the KPA-CTP (Certified Training Partner) designation. The course includes both online coursework (about 10 hours per week) and four intensive weekends of hands-on learning with a professional trainer. Tuition is significant (at $5,300) but some scholarship funds are available. KPA courses do count for continuing education credit with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).