Dog Training Certifications

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About Certifications

The School for Dog Trainers at Highland Canine Training LLC prepares our students to go out into the vast industry of dog training with the knowledge and skills they need to become active members in the dog training community. 

Although we cannot guarantee our graduates certifications through other organizations, we can guarantee our students have the foundation and practical abilities to feel confident and capable to join other organizations. Over the years, we have had many graduates successfully obtain multiple certifications after they graduate.

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We encourage our students to get involved and take the initiative to intertwine themselves in the dog training world. Continued education is an important part of any dog trainer’s life. With the industry ever changing and constantly growing, joining associations and organizations dedicated to the betterment of dog training is highly suggested.

The industry leading instructors and trainers at the School for Dog Trainers currently hold, or have held, certifications through many different organizations and can testify to the benefits and networking qualities these certifications provide. Perspective and incoming students historically ask for ways to stand out and be recognized as hard working, knowledgeable, and professional individuals. Gaining certifications through dedication and a love for education can do just that.

Each certification has different requirements related to skills development and real-world experience. Most certifications also require annual dues/fees along with continued education units (CEUS) to maintain their membership status. There are a number of certifying bodies both national and international; determining the right certification depends on the individual and their interests.

There is no limit to the number of certifications a dog trainer may hold and the benefits are endless. Holding a certification with any organization will provide you a network of professionals with common goals and interests along with a number of membership benefits to include industry publications, access to some of the largest dog training conferences, up to date practices, research and development, membership discounts, and so much more.

Highland Canine Professional Trainer (HCPT)

Since 2006, the School for Dog Trainers has been producing industry leading professional dog trainers worldwide. Upon graduation from their program, students from the School for Dog Trainers at Highland Canine LLC receive a graduate certificate and designation as a Highland Canine Professional Trainer (HCPT).

Graduates of our school receive unmatched support after they leave our school. Alumni have access to private social media groups and a secure website designed for their continued success in the industry. Certified graduates not only have the opportunity to attend continued education classes and events but they also get continued business support well after they leave.

Those who leave our school as graduates have gone on to successfully begin their own businesses and acquire jobs at some of the largest companies in the industry. A major benefit of our certified programs is the graduate job posting page on our Alumni Website.  With our programs being the most innovative through the use of science-based proven methods, our graduates are highly sought after. Companies from all aspects of the industry contact us specifically to dip into our pool of graduates seeking to employ them.

In addition, our graduates have access to a variety of opportunities to help them succeed, including:

  • Professional development materials and resources for building a better business and training methods
  • First access to Continued Education courses
  • Internship opportunities at our facility in Harmony, NC
  • Professional and reputable referrals and recommendations
  • Access to our worldwide network of industry leading professionals
  • Up to date information on all research and development

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) was founded in 2000. This certification measures a trainer’s competency in ethology, canine learning theory, different dog training techniques, and their ability instructing others. There are two forms of CPDT certifications through this council. The CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed) and the CPDT-KSA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge and Skills Assessed).

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The CPDT-KA Exam:

  • This exam is computer generated and must be taken at one of their testing locations. This exam contains a total of 250 multiple-choice questions on topics including canine learning theory, ethology, husbandry, instruction skills, and training equipment.

The CPDT-KSA Exam:

  • Formatted as practical training exercises, this exam can be submitted by video recording. You will have three weeks to submit four video recordings demonstrating your knowledge and skills in training, instructing, training equipment, application of modalities, and the CCPDT policies and position statements.

Recertifications for the CPDT-KA/-KSA must be performed every three years to maintain certification status. Educational events earn you continued education credits (CEUs). During recertification periods you must obtain 36 CEUs as a CPDT-KA trainer. As a CPDT-KSA trainer you must obtain 12 CEUs of hands-on time and 36 CEUs of lectures and seminars.

The CCPDT also offers a Certified Behavior Consultant Canine – Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) exam for those who are looking to hold a certification in canine behavior modification.

  • The CBCC-KA exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions. Just like the CPDT-KA exam, you must schedule an appointment at one of the designated computer-based testing facilities.
  • The exam covers subjects including applied behavior analysis, consulting skills, best practices, ethology, canine body language, observational skills, health development, life stages, and anatomy and physiology.

As a CBCC-KA trainer you must recertify every five years to maintain your certification. During your recertification period you must obtain 36 CEUs. These CEUs must be in the areas of training and/ or behavior to count towards you CBCC-KA. Hands- on credits are highly recommended and will count towards your CEUs but they must be in behavior. CEUs earned in hands-on training will not count towards you CBCC-KA.

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Evaluator

The American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen program began in 1989 and is designed to evaluate dogs for good manners at home and in their communities. The foundation of the program is to encourage good pet ownership and basic obedience. Dogs and owners who pass this ten-step exam will receive a certificate from the AKC.

As a dog trainer it greatly beneficial to you and your clients to become an AKC CGC Evaluator. There are many benefits to certifying dogs as Canine Good Citizens. Insurance companies have used the CGC as a prerequisite to insure breeds that would not otherwise be covered under their insurance. Likewise, some apartment complexes and condominium associations require dogs to pass a CGC test to live in the housing.

If you meet all the minimum requirements you must submit an application and processing fee for new applicants. Upon approval you will receive a CGC Approved Evaluator number, name badge, certificate, and introductory kits for the Canine Good Citizen program, STAR puppy program, Canine Good Citizen Advanced program, and the AKC Urban Canine Good Citizen program.

You must reapply every two years to remain certified as an evaluator. To renew you only need to submit your renewal fee and your updated contact information.

National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)

Since 1965, the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, has made it their mission to certify dog obedience instructors who not only train dogs but are also proficient in instructing dog owners. NADOI is the oldest certifying organization of its kind with an emphasis on continued education and humane training methods from its certified instructors. The minimum requirement for either of their membership applications is at least two years of training dogs and instructing group or private lessons.

NADOI offers two different Memberships, a Certified Membership and a Provisional Membership.

If you do not meet the criteria for the Certified Membership, the NADOI does offer a Provisional Membership. Provisional members cannot vote or hold office but, they will receive all the publications and other benefits included with a Certified Membership. This membership may be held for a maximum of three years while the individual works towards completing their requirements for a Certified Membership.

Additional certifications are available after 6 months of membership. Members must apply for further certifications including Puppy, Novice, Open, Utility, Tracking, and Basic Agility.

Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT)

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) was founded in 1993 by Ian Dunbar. Since then, it has grown to be the largest association of dog trainers world-wide.  As an APDT member you will gain access to their job bank to give you the most opportunities at finding the job you’ve always wanted or to post job listings and help you hire the employees your company needs. Members get free subscriptions to APDT’s monthly publication, Chronicle of the Dog.

The membership you choose will determine the level of access you have to their member benefits.The APDT offers 3 Annual Memberships.

  1. Professional Premium Members
  2. Professional Members
  3. Supporting Members

APDT offers multi-employee discounts based on the membership level and number of employees.

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International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)

In 2004 the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, IAABC, was founded in response to the ever-growing need of assistance for those who own pets with behavior problems. The IAABC is a network of professionals including veterinary behaviorists, veterinarians, behavior consultants, animal trainers, animal shelter employees and volunteers, academics, and other professionals.  This organization has over 1,700 members world-wide.

The IAABC has a variety of membership enrollment divisions for many species. As a dog training professional, the IAABC Dog Species Division gives members access to education materials, updates on current practices, care protocols, and discussion groups related to canines. Members interact through a closed email listing, Facebook group, and LinkedIn.

The IAABC has four levels of memberships:

  1. Supporting Membership
  2. Affiliate Membership
  3. Associate Certified Membership
  4. Certified Membership

Membership fees and benefits are based on the level you choose.