A certification is born
It all began in November 1999 when the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) called a meeting to discuss the feasibility of developing a certification program for dog trainers.
Many dog and animal behavior professionals took part, representing organizations like the Delta Society (now Pet Partners), American Humane Association, Association of Behavior Analysis, Animal Behavior Society, Animal Behavior College, and Animal Behavior Systems. No less than 26 professionals assisted in the early planning stages including APDT members, dog trainers, certified applied animal behaviorists, and veterinarians.
The goal was to design an independent, self-supporting certification program meaningful to trainers, other related professionals, and the public.
Early test development and the first examination
The APDT Education Committee spearheaded the development of the certification program, first meeting with a facilitator in Montreal, Canada, in 2000, and then working with the APDT Board of Directors, certified applied animal behaviorists, and other professionals, to create the program’s basic outline and the exam’s subject matter.
APDT contracted with the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) to provide administrative services and oversee the testing and recertification process. During five review sessions, the Education Committee and over a dozen outside experts reviewed every exam question for accuracy.
PTC administered the first examination on September 28, 2001, at the APDT conference in Ellenville, New York. Out of the 120 highly qualified candidates who took the first exam, 117 passed and earned the designation Certified Pet Dog Trainers (CPDT).
In January 2002, the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT) filed Articles of Incorporation as a non-profit corporation in the state of Utah. At that point, we became a separate organization from the APDT, and were officially recognized as such by APDT in the fall of 2002.
In 2006, we changed our name to the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, a change overwhelmingly supported by CPDTs. The new name better expressed the intent of the certification, namely to provide professional standards that both support and promote dog trainers and allow dog owners to identify professionals in an otherwise unregulated field.
In 2010, we began the process of registering the trademarks of our acronyms, logos, certification names, and name. During this process, CPDT was changed to CPDT-KA® (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed®) as neither CPDT nor the words Certified Professional Dog Trainer could be trademarked given the generic use of the terms. This provided a way to protect the designations as well as a framework to create future designations.
The rest is… future
As the leading certification for dog trainers, the CCPDT has a big role to play in the continued professionalization of the dog training field. Our vision is to be the leading worldwide credentialing organization of dog training and behavior professionals.
That means we have a lot of work to do as an organization, and we are busy making the vision real. Some of the work is highly visible—overhauling our brand and this website, for example—but much happens behind the scenes at the hands of our active, engaged volunteers.
To learn more about on CCPDT initiatives, check out previous issues of our newsletter. Want to learn more about how you can participate in the CCPDT’s work—even with a modest time commitment? Then visit our volunteer page; we are always looking for more hands and heads.