Dog Trainer FAQ


Dog walking beside trainer

Why certify dog trainers?

Establishing a credentialing program strengthens the reputation of a profession. While a certification program isn’t an endorsement of an individual, it tells anyone who is considering hiring a professional that this person has sought out a credentialing program and has passed the credential’s requirements.

Can people become certified without taking the examination?

No. The certification process is a standardized program specifically designed for fair treatment of all candidates. The only way to ensure the integrity of this standardized process is to require that all candidates are assessed equally.

How many certified trainers are there?

As of December 2021, there were 4,729 CPDT-KAs and 172 CPDT-KSAs worldwide.

What is the difference between APDT and CCPDT®?

The CCPDT offers independent certification to dog training and behavior professionals and is an organization of “certificants.” Certificants have taken and passed one of our examinations, and continue to recertify to retain the credential. APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) is an education-focused organization of “members.” Members are individuals with an interest in the goals of the organization, who pay annual membership dues to participate. Members continue to be part of the organization as long as they continue to pay their annual dues.


What information is tested in CPDT-KA® and CPDT-KSA®?

We designed the knowledge assessed (-KA) training certification exam to test the foundational knowledge a professional dog trainer must have.The test questions are compiled by a group of acknowledged dog training and behavior experts. The questions are multiple-choice—the most frequently used format in examinations that validate a candidate’s competence to perform the work of the profession—and are based on the general knowledge of dog behavior and application of training techniques.

Skills assessed (-KSA) is the next level of training certification. During this examination, you must demonstrate through a video the practical skills necessary to train dogs and teach others to train their dogs. The examinations are changed periodically and are reviewed with a psychometrician before being released for the testing period. The videos are scored using a rubric which removes as much subjectivity from the judging as possible.

What material is covered in the examination?

The exam domains for the knowledge assessed (-KA) certification are instruction skills; learning theory; ethology; equipment; animal husbandry. The exam domains for the skills assessed (-KSA) certification are training skills; instruction skills; training equipment; application of modalities; CCPDT training policies and position statements.

For complete test content outlines, download the CPDT-KA  or CPDT-KSA Candidate Handbooks.

Can I practice the examination?

Yes, we have created 50-question practice tests for the CPDT-KA certification exam that will give you a score by testing area. This is a chance to take a computerized exam; experience the content; and learn more about question format, style, and level of difficulty. You have 2 hours to complete the 50 questions and there’s a fee of $99. To register and take the practice test, visit the Professional Testing Corporation.

NOTE: The successful completion of the practice test is not required to sit for the exam, nor does it guarantee a passing score on the exam.

When and where are the tests given?

We offer the training examinations in the Spring and Fall of each year. The knowledge assessed (-KA) exam is offered at Prometric computerized testing locations.  Please check for a test center near you or please call 1-800-741-0934.  The skills assessed (-KSA) exam is a video submission. For more info, see the CPDT-KA  or CPDT-KSA Candidate Handbooks.


Who grades the KSA?

An evaluation committee, comprised of trainers who have earned the KSA designation, is responsible for scoring the exam. Multiple evaluators review and score each video independently. If there’s a statistical difference in any of the scores, we have a process in place for additional review of the video. If an evaluator frequently is rating statistically different from other evaluators, CCPDT is notified that the evaluator may need additional training on the scoring items. Evaluators must also disclose if they know the candidate and can opt out of scoring the candidate if they do not think they can be objective. Further, videos are scored using a rubric to make the judging as objective as possible.

How many people have taken the test?

As of December 2021, 8,622 candidates have taken the knowledge assessed (-KA) examination.

What is the pass/fail rate?

As of December 2021, the cumulative pass rate for the knowledge assessed (-KA) examination was 88%. As of September 2021, the cumulative pass rate for the knowledge & skills assessed (-KSA) examination was 97%.


If I’ve earned excess CEUs, can I carry them forward to the next recertification period?

No. One of the requirements and objectives of certification is for trainers to stay current on new research and training methods.

Taking classes is expensive. How else can I recertify?

You don’t have to recertify by way of continuing education units (CEUs), you can instead re-take the examination prior to expiration. We allow this alternative because we continually keep our examination up-to-date with the latest techniques, methods, and equipment, so candidates have to be current in their field to pass it.

I missed the recertification deadline. What should I do?

You can apply for recertification up to 30 days past your Recertification Application Deadline. A late fee of $100 applies. After your certification expiration date, you have to reapply for certification through the same process as when you originally became certified.

Can I get an extension on the recertification due date?

Under certain unusual or extraordinary circumstances, yes. To get a one-year extension, send a written explanation via email of why you need one to the CCPDT board at least 30 days before your certification expiration date.