Adequate background knowledge about dogs and skills in dog handling are basic requirements to be a dog trainer. Practically, anyone can become a dog trainer if he or she has leadership capabilities but if you want to be a certified dog trainer, you have to earn your certificate by gaining experience and passing examinations.
- No formal education is required. Most dog trainers are self-educated and learn from reading books and research, as well as gaining hands-on experience. Dog training schools may be helpful and they offer structured learning programs for aspiring dog trainers.
Spending time in local dog shelters or veterinary clinics may be beneficial in order to gain much needed experience in actual dog handling. Apprenticeship and spending time with local breeders are also ways to gain more knowledge and practice your skills.
The Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers is the most respected body in the United States that offers a national dog trainer certification.
- Certification is voluntary but it offers extra credentials that are needed in job applications.
- As of April 2011, there are more than 2000 certified dog trainers in the country.
- Examinations are given to assess the applicants. These tests are offered in the spring and fall of each year.
- Titles are given to the dog trainers after passing the exam. CPDT –KA (Knowledge Assessed) or CPDT – KSA (Knowledge and Skills Assessed)
- Continuing Education Units (CEU) are offered thru lectures and seminars. They are needed for recertification.
- Recertification is done every 3 years. Knowledge Assessed (KA) recertification require 36 hours of CEUs. The same is true for Knowledge and Skills Assessed (KSA) but additional 12 hours hands-on time is further needed.
- Recertification also ensures that dog trainers maintain high standards in their profession. Through CEUs, dog trainers will have opportunities to learn and be updated with new innovations in dog training.
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