Do You Have To Be Certified To Train Dogs?

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If you have a passion for dogs you might have considered pursuing a career in dog training, but do you need any certification first?

There are no laws that require dog trainers to obtain certification. However, many dog training companies will require employees to get certified before hiring. Anyone wanting to become a dog trainer should seek certification so that they can learn best practices and proper training techniques.

This article will answer your questions about whether you need to be certified to train dogs. We will tell you how to become certified to be a dog trainer, and what you should know before pursuing certification. We will discuss the importance of using certified trainers if you are looking for professional help in training your dog, and tips for how to pick the right trainer for you.  

I am a long-time dog owner and lover and have done a lot of research about dog ownership and training. I can tell you with certainty the importance of using a certified dog trainer to help you train your dog. I hope that this article will shed some light on the importance of regulation and proper knowledge in the field of dog training.  

In this article

‍Do You Have To Be Certified To Train Dogs?

There are not any state or federal laws in the United States that require dog trainers to have a license or certification. Anyone can start a dog training business with no real experience or qualifications. This is dangerous as people may be entrusting their dog to people that could handle their dog improperly or put them into dangerous situations.

Since there is no formal certification process for becoming a dog trainer, the entire industry is unregulated. It is highly recommended that people wishing to become dog trainers seek certification from a reputable organization.

Dog trainers that are certified have proof that they learned proper techniques and best practices and performed them to a certain standard. Certified dog trainers, while still not regulated, can evoke a sense of authority within the industry.

Certified dog trainers should advertise the fact that they are proven capable through their training and certification. They should also educate their client base as well so that the general public can learn to seek reputable dog trainers.

The certification of dog trainers is important in the same way that certification for any other profession is important. Certification shows that the person has demonstrated their capabilities in the profession and skill of dog training.

How Do You Become Certified To Train Dogs?

There are a few steps to become certified to train dogs. The certification process requires the person to exhibit knowledge, skills, and dedication to dogs and training them. This process requires effort and study but is worth it in the end. At the end of the certification process, a person will come away with knowledge of the proper ways to train dogs.

In the United States, you should become certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers or the CCPDT. This organization is recognized by the American Kennel Club and is known to be a reputable source for dog training certification.

There are two levels of certification with the CCPDT. The first level is “Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed,” or (CPDT-KA). To achieve this level, the applicant must:

  • Complete at least 300 hours of dog training in the three years leading up to the application
  • Have a CCPDT certified trainer sign a statement attesting your knowledge and eligibility
  • Sign and file forms acknowledging and pledging to uphold certain standards, ethics, and behavior intervention techniques
  • Pass an exam that consists of written questions

If the applicant completes all of these steps, they will have proven their dedication, demonstrated their knowledge, and pledged to use safe and ethical practices in their training.

The second level of certification with the CCPDT is “Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge and Skills Assessed,” or (CPDT-KSA). To achieve this level, the applicant must:

  • Hold a current CPDT-KA credential
  • Complete training exercises
  • Confirm compliance with the organization’s standards, ethics, and behavior intervention techniques
  • Pass an exam that consists of hands-on exercises

If the applicant completes all of these steps, they will have proven their skills in addition to their knowledge of dog training. This highest level of certification proves that the applicant knows what they are doing and that they are good at it too.

What To Know Before Becoming Certified To Train Dogs

If you are considering a career in dog training, there are some things that you should know. Dog training can be an incredibly fun and rewarding career. However, it can also be challenging and heartbreaking. As a dog trainer, you will meet people and dogs of all kinds and in all situations.

The first thing that you should know before becoming a dog trainer is that people will often come to you with “problem” dogs. These are dogs that are either high energy with no training or who have shown aggression or even hurt another dog or a person.

You will be dealing with dogs that have learned routines that include no discipline or boundaries. These habits can be hard to break. As they say, it can be hard to teach an old dog new tricks (though it is not impossible!).

You will need to master the best practices used for teaching and re-learning with adult dogs. You will also need to learn how to communicate these best practices to pet owners and encourage them to implement the training at home.

As a dog trainer, your work can be sad and heartbreaking too. You might encounter an owner who recently adopted a dog that was abused in a previous home. The dog might be scared and weak, and you will need to teach it discipline, routine, and how to receive love and affection.

Dog training is not all bad, though. You will also encounter new pet owners that want to start training their dog or puppy early or people who are realizing that their dog is high energy or difficult to train. Most of the time, you will meet pet owners with the best intentions and love for their dogs.

We want to tell you about the potentially bad situations so that you can be aware of them before jumping into this career. It requires not only skill, knowledge, and dedication, but people skills, empathy, and a love for dogs.

What To Look For In A Trainer

If you are a new pet owner, or even if you have had your dog for years and now want to train them, you may be shopping around for a dog trainer. There are certain qualities that you should look for in a dog trainer. Of course, you should make sure that you feel comfortable with the person and feel like you will be able to learn training techniques from them. You should also look for the following requirements.


As we have tried to emphasize in this article, certification is a crucial part of becoming a good dog trainer. Make sure that your dog trainer has up-to-date certification. This will prove that they are properly trained and are upholding best practices and ethics in their business.

Member of an Organization

Check to see if they are a member of a professional dog training organization like the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Members of organizations like these usually need to abide by a separate set of ethics and need to prove their knowledge and skills to their peers. These organizations also help members stay up-to-date with new research findings in the field of dog training.

Good Reviews

Finally, make sure your potential dog trainer has good reviews from other customers. You want to make sure you have a good experience with your dog trainer. Reviews are a great way of learning about the experience and results of other customers.