There are no legal certifications or education requirements for dog trainers. That means that anyone can say they are a dog trainer, even if they have not actual experience, education or training. This can make it difficult to know if you are hiring a true professional or not. If you find yourself looking for a dog trainer but cannot decide who to choose, there are a few tips that can help you find a qualified trainer.
A true professional dog trainer should have some type or formal education and should have experience training dogs other than their own. There a few reputable dog training groups that can help you find a good trainer.
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer (Knowledge Assessed or Knowledge and Skills Assessed) – these trainers have a required number of hours they must complete before they take a standardized test. To renew the certification, the trainer must get 36 continued education units within three years. (this means they must continue their education all of the time!)
- Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner- these trainers take a 6 month course that involves hand on skills as well as written on-line course material. To become certified, these trainers must pass quizzes and tests based on the on-line material and they must demonstrate their skills in person with a dog (they also must demonstrate their training skills with another animal). To renew, these trainers must also continue their education every year.
- Pet Professional Guild- this is a group of people that all believe in positive, force free training. To be in the group you must show that you are a positive, force free animal professional.
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. This group has a variety of levels of membership and they have many educational opportunities.
Any trainer you hire should be kind and compassionate towards you and your animals. They should use positive, force free techniques when training dogs. The trainer should allow you to observe them training before you work together and should be willing to give you references. A professional trainer should belong to at least one dog training organization and should take continuing education courses regularly.