Certification is not a requirement for dog trainers, but there are many training programs and internships that offer certifications to enhance a trainer’s credentials. Some of the most popular options are worth considering for those hoping to work in the business.
Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is perhaps the best-known program for dog trainers and offers two certification levels: CPDT-KA and CPDT-KSA. Exams are administered each spring and fall to qualified applicants.
The CPDT-KA (Knowledge Assessed) requirements include documentation of at least 300 hours of dog training within the last three years, passing a 250-question multiple-choice exam, submitting an attestation statement from a CPDT member or veterinarian, and signing a code of ethics.
The CPDT-KSA (Knowledge and Skills Assessed) requirements include holding a current CPDT-KA credential, uploading a passport photo, submitting a video of four designated training exercises (using four different and unfamiliar dogs), submitting a video of the candidate coaching three clients with different dogs, and maintaining continuing education requirements.
International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) offers two canine-focused certification levels: Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (ACDBC) and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC). Continuing education hours are required to keep a trainer’s certification current.
ACDBC requirements include at least 300 completed hours of animal behavior consulting with clients, 150 hours of education, two case studies, species-specific knowledge, assessment skills, and letters of recommendation. CDBC requirements include three years (500 hours) of animal behavior consulting with clients, 400 hours of education, three written case studies, discussion of four case scenarios, questions relating to species-specific knowledge and assessment skills, and letters of recommendation.
Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP)
The Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP) offers a Certified Dog Trainer program (AABP-CDT). Requirements include 300 hours of professional training within the last five years, 30 hours of supervised skills development, proof of insurance, a proficiency exam, and two references. A Behavior Consultant certification path also is available.
Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor (CBATI)
The Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor (CBATI) program is offered in several countries around the world, including the United States, Europe, and Australia. It is designed for trainers working with aggressive and fearful dogs. Certification is valid for three years.
To become a Certified BAT Instructor, a candidate must have at least 200 hours of training experience, submit a practical skills assessment on video, and pass a written exam with essay components. Trainers who complete a five-day BAT Instructor course do not have to pay the $300 exam fee.
International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)
The International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) offers a Certified Dog Trainer certification (IACP-CDT). Applicants for certification must have at least two years of experience in dog training and at least six months of membership with the IACP. After passing the CDT exam, a candidate becomes eligible to take the CDTA (Certified Dog Trainers Advanced) exam which includes a video evaluation of the trainer’s skills.
National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)
The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) was established in 1965 and is billed as the oldest certification organization for dog trainers. Certified membership involves a minimum of five years experience in obedience training (with at least with two years as a head instructor), experience working with at least 100 dogs, documenting time spent teaching groups for at least 104 hours or private lessons for at least 288 hours and passing a written essay test. Additional specialty certification areas include Puppy, Novice, Open, Utility, Tracking, and Basic Agility.
Karen Pryor Academy
The Karen Pryor Academy (KPR) offers a six-month Dog Trainer Professional program leading to the KPA-CTP (Certified Training Partner) designation. The course includes both online coursework of approximately 10 hours per week and four intensive weekends of hands-on learning with a professional trainer.
Tuition is significant at $5,300, but some scholarship funds are available. KPA courses do count for continuing education credit with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).