How to Choose a Professional Dog Trainer or Behavior Consultant

Working with a qualified professional can, in some cases, mean the difference between a harmonious life with your dog and having to give up your dog for re-homing or euthanasia.

But the search process can be confusing. Dog training is a science, but the industry is (as yet) unregulated with no licensing requirements or regulatory oversight. This makes it difficult to know what to look for.

That’s where independent certification comes into the picture. Our certifications give you a way to hone in on dog training professionals whose knowledge and skills have stood up to a rigorous, standardized test. Here’s a guide for your search:

Step 1: Look for our certifications

The designations are: CPDT-KA®, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®.

CPDT-KA® indicates that a dog trainer has passed a comprehensive exam and has at least 300 hours of dog training experience.

CPDT-KSA® indicates that a dog trainer has passed a comprehensive exam and an objective skills-based assessment along with at least 300 hours of dog training experience.

CBCC-KA® indicates that a dog behavior consultant has passed a comprehensive exam on behavior modification and has at least 300 hours of of dog behavior consulting experience.

Step 2: Assess the trainer

Browse the trainer’s website and any other marketing materials. Does everything look and sound professional? Do the messages appeal to you? If so, set up a phone call or in-person meeting. Can the trainer answer your questions about training, behavior, and methods knowledgeably and clearly? Are they patient and thorough in their replies? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do they have experience working with the problems you need help with? Can they provide references from clients?

Step 3: Beware of red flags

A couple of things should raise a red flag in your assessment. If the trainer focuses on a model of dominance and submission—using language like “dominant” and “alpha” —or uses primarily punishment based methods, that trainer doesn’t meet the standards of science-based training.

Find a certified trainer today

With certified members all over the world, there is bound to be a great trainer to work with in your area!