Gentle Spirit Dog Training

Creating Lifelong Friendships Through Mutual Understanding and Respect


What does being a certified dog trainer mean?

There are no licensing or mandatory educational requirements for dog trainers, so it can be difficult to determine which trainer has the experience and knowledge to best help your dogs with training and behavior concerns. The certifying organizations presented below maintain humane standards of competence for animal training and behavior professionals and require strict adherence to those standards.  Trainers who have earned certification have demonstrated commitment to improving themselves and their profession.  That commitment sets us apart!

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT®) is an independent certifying organization, and the industry leader in defining and maintaining competency in the dog training profession.  It offers the only international, standardized certification for professional dog trainers and behavior consultants that is both psychometrically sound and independent of any course of study.

Certified Professional Dog Trainers - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and C
ertified Professional Dog Trainers – Knowledge and Skills Assessed (CPDT-KSA) are required to provide recommendations by other professionals, pass an independent, psychometrically sound and science-based exam, and demonstrate their knowledge of training.  Certificants are required to accumulate continuing education for recertification every three years.

Certified Behavior Consultant Canine - Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) certification recognizes the advanced knowledge and skills of professional canine behavior consultants.  Certificants must demonstrate extensive hands-on experience in the field (e.g., treating fear, phobias, compulsive behaviors, anxiety, and aggression in dogs), provide references that attest to their work, and pass a written exam that focuses on the science behind dog behavior and the application of behavior modification techniques. CBCC-KA certification provides an independent, scientifically valid measure of an individual's understanding of the field of canine behavior modification.  Certificants are required to accumulate continuing education for recertification every five years.

CCPDT certification requires adherence to its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics and certificants must engage in on-going continuing education to maintain the credential.  These rigorous standards ensure that certificants are actively engaged in professional development and applying the most current science and techniques with their clients.


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The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) is a certifying professional organization.  It provides networking and educational opportunities for members through on-line discussion groups, guided studies, webinars and conferences.


Certified members are required to demonstrate competency in six core areas including assessment and intervention strategies, consulting skills, knowledge of animal behavior, and species-specific knowledge.  Certification is based on an applicant's current knowledge. The IAABC does not provide the coursework or educational requirements needed to become certified.  Certified members are required to accumulate continuing education for recertification every three years.

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The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) is a professional organization of individual trainers who are committed to becoming better trainers through education.  It was founded in 1993 by Ian Dunbar, PhD, BVetMed, MRCVS.  A renowned veterinarian, animal behaviorist, dog trainer and writer, Dr. Dunbar created the APDT as an inclusive forum for trainers to network with each other and provide educational opportunities and grow the profession.  With a goal of helping trainers improve their knowledge and skills through education, the APDT provides an industry standard of excellence for our profession.  Early on, the APDT recognized the need for certification for its profession.  Professional dog trainers needed a credible means of measuring their knowledge and skills, and the dog-owning public needed a credible barometer for choosing a trainer.  The APDT created the CCPDT in 2001.  Today, with almost 6,000 members, the APDT has grown to be the largest association of dog trainers in the world.

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