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One of the most common questions a prospective dog training client will ask about our trainers is whether or not they hold a certification. I will answer that in this post, and as I do, I also want to clear up a few misconceptions about dog trainer certification.

1. There is no universally recognized certification for professional dog trainers. Not one of our 50 states regulates the dog training industry or requires any special license or education to operate a dog training business. You do not need to be certified as a dog trainer to start a dog training business.

2. Companies, schools or organizations that offer certification are simply certifying you in name only. Sure, you may have to pass a test, or graduate from a course, but the fact of the matter is that to the general public, what truly matters is that you can train them and their dog effectively, and change their lives for the better.  In my opinion this isn’t all bad, because at least you, as the consumer, can actually do a bit of research to find out what type of curriculum the trainer needed to complete to be able to claim the certification.   (Canine Trade Group trainers must complete an extremely comprehensive course of study)

That said, the two most widely known certifications available to date are offered by the International Association of Canine Professionals, and the Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers (Which was created by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers) These certifications hold weight mostly within the dog trainer community but not among the general public who remain largely unaware of the requirements that need to be met to attain either certification.

The CPPDT certifications requires you to pass a multiple choice test, while the IACP asks you to submit written case histories as well as sealed and signed references from clients. Both require you to have a minimum amount of documented professional experience as a professional dog trainer.

Others have written extensively on the subject, and I’ve had permission to repost one colleague’s experiences as a CPPDT on my blog. Feel free to contact me for more links to trainer’s experiences with certification.

My former students tend to point to my experience, and my course of study, by way of qualifying themselves to their prospective clients. I have yet to hear from a trainer that they haven’t been able to get a successful business going because they weren’t certified.

Experience in the field is something taking my course will not give you, but what you do receive are the tools and resources to sit for, and pass, any dog trainer certification test or process currently offered.