Dog training has changed immensely over the last 20 to 30 years. It pays to know a bit about the history of dog training so that you can make the most informed decision about the training philosophies and techniques that will be used to train you and your dog.
In the “old days,” most trainers followed the military style of training, which resulted in a misguided belief in physically and emotionally intimidating dogs in the quest to teach them “obedience.” Equipment such as prong/pinch collars and choke chains are commonly used by trainers subscribing to the use of, at some time in their training, intimidation, compulsion, or force. Some trainers still use these techniques today, but call them “balanced” training, and some even call them positive reinforcement (yikes!).
Additionally, research with captive wolves erroneously led us to believe that domestic dogs’ behaviors were motivated by the desire to “be dominant.” These beliefs have been debunked. Whole Dog Journal - Alpha Dogs
There is also a confounding belief system that supports the notion that dogs act from some kind of inner “desire to please” us. If you think about it, it’s a pretty strange idea that a dog would to try to dominate someone and please them at the same time. APDT Dominance and Dog Training. Even on its own, a belief in dogs’ desire to please results in frustration by people who think their dog should be more compliant or “obedient” simply because dogs should have a desire to please us.
At long last, in the 1970s lure-reward training was introduced, and we found that you did not need to physically push, prod, and “correct” your dog to train him. Training could now be fun and effective. Dog Star Daily - Lure Reward Training
Then, in the 1990s clicker training, in use by animal trainers of other species since the 1940s, finally successfully made its way to dog training. Clicker training is one of the most effective and fun ways to train a variety of behaviors and has been embraced by positive reinforcement trainers while being misunderstood and maligned by some trainers who don’t understand how it works. The history of clicker training is a fascinating story that has enriched many animals’ lives for over seven decades! Dr Sophiayin - The Best Animal Trainers in History - Interview with Bob and Marian Bailey.
Now, some of the most exciting changes in dog training come from the area of human behavior analysis. If you are interested in exploring how applied behavioral analysis is used across a broad spectrum of species, check out behaviorworks.org. On that site, Dr. Susan Friedman’s Written Works pages are a great place to immerse yourself if you are a behavior junkie.
DogPACT is proud to actively participate in the continuing quest to make dog training force free and fun for both dogs and people. Our trainers earn continuing education units by attending industry conferences and workshops, and are excited to bring state-of-the-art dog training to our clients and dogs.
Be an informed consumer. Educate yourself about effective, positive reinforcement training and do your due diligence before choosing a trainer. Ask trainers to be specific about how they would address a particular problem you are encountering with your dog. For example, if your dog is barking at people walking past your home, what would the trainer recommend?
If the trainer asks questions first, and then talks about training “alternative behaviors” such as coming to you (come when called), or settling on a mat, or another behavior that is incompatible with barking, you are on the right track. If, however, the trainer doesn’t care about why your dog is barking (fear? boredom? separation anxiety?), and starts talking about all the ways you can punish your dog, thank them for their time, and keep looking.
All the trainers at DogPACT adhere to dog-friendly positive reinforcement training techniques. We do not use physical corrections or intimidation. Thousands of satisfied clients will tell you that these techniques work.
Not all “certifications” are created equally. Although there are some exceptions, certification that includes objective credentialing process is the professional standard. Certification assigned by a for-profit enterprise might have a conflict of interest. That is, is their interest to produce high-quality, experienced professionals, or to produce an additional revenue source for their enterprise? Due diligence is needed to answer that question for each kind of certification. For example, one for-profit training school (an online course for those aspiring to become professional trainers) is sponsored by a company that sells shock collars.
DogPACT is committed to the highest standards of professional training practices and methodologies. Our programs are based on solid science, the input of veterinary and applied animal [behaviorists], and hundreds of hours of continuing education. Each of our trainers is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and our interns are working toward meeting that certification’s standards. In addition to achieving this widely respected certification, each trainer has hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of hands-on experience in a broad spectrum of canine training from dog sports to behavior modification to building a strong foundation of pet manners in our family dogs.
Please contact us if you have questions about our methods, our philosophies, and our credentials. We invite scrutiny.
This information is taken verbatim from the Council’s web site pages, and is presented here for ease of access. You may also find this information by going to ccpdt.org; however, the information is located in a variety of different pages throughout their site.
Certification is a form of credentialing. A credential is a designation which indicates competence in a subject or area. Certification is usually a voluntary process instituted by a nongovernmental agency in which individuals are recognized for advanced knowledge and skill. Certification requires assessment, including testing, and an evaluation of education and/or experience.
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT®) exists to be the industry leader in defining and maintaining competency in the dog training and behavior profession
The CCPDT is a proud member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). ICE is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing educational, networking and advocacy resources for the credentialing community. ICE's accrediting body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), evaluates certification organizations for compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. The CCPDT supports the mission of ICE and strives to meet or exceed the NCCA standards for its own credentialing processes and decisions.
The CCPDT's certification program was the first national certification for dog trainers. Until the creation of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers in 2001, there was no nationally available certification process for dog trainers. Many schools teach dog trainers and offer certification for their specific programs. These certificates, therefore, reflect the teachings and quality of a specific school. Other organizations offer take-home tests for "certification". These tests are not monitored, nor are the testing processes standardized, or checked by a psychometrician. The CCPDT administered its first test September 28, 2001, during the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Annual Educational Conference in Ellenville, NY.
Since then, CCPDT has expanded to offer knowledge and skills based examinations covering animal training and behavior.
Candidates who pass the CCPDT's examinations earn specific designations which may be used after their names. All certificants must earn continuing education units to maintain their designations. They must also adhere to a strict Code of Ethics in their practices.
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers establishes and maintains humane standards of competence for animal training and behavior professionals through criteria based on experience, standardized testing, skills and continuing education, and identifies and markets those individuals to the public.
The CCPDT mission statement reflects the dual mission of The CCPDT:
I am often referred to as a behaviorist since I work with dogs to resolve serious behavior problems such as fearfulness, aggression, and anxieties. When I tell people that I am not a “behaviorist,” they express either surprise or disinterest as I try and explain why I won’t call myself a behaviorist. After all, what matters to them is that I can help their dog, not what I call myself.
But it matters to me. Because, in brief, it is really buyer beware when one purchases dog training or behavior modification services. There is no regulatory body in my state (CA) that licenses trainers or helps the public become educated about who has the appropriate experience to work with their dog, whether that be Pansy the Puppy or Fang, the resource-guarding, child biting Man’s Best Friend. And if someone calls himself a behaviorist, and yet has no advanced education or training in behavior, someone could end up being very disappointed when that “behaviorist” can’t solve their dog’s problem—or worse, makes it worse—because they weren’t qualified. And that makes all trainers and real behaviorists look bad.
I call myself a “dog trainer who specializes in resolving serious behavior problems.” I feel that the title “behaviorist” belongs to two groups of people: 1) a Board-certified veterinarian who has advanced education and experience in behavior in addition to their medical degree, and they have sat for and passed their Board exams in behavior (there are about 48 of these rare creatures in the U.S.; go to www.dacvb.org; and 2) a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) who is a PhD in psychology or animal behavior and recognized by the Animal Behavior Society.
Does this mean that anyone who isn’t one of these rare folks is incapable of helping people with their dogs? Of course not. The more than 100 hours of continuing education I devote every year in keeping abreast of my field, my CPDT-KA certification, and my more than 20 years’ direct experience make me good at what I do. But I still don’t try and impress people with a title that should be reserved for the folks who have advanced degrees and who should be respected for their contribution and commitment to the field.
There’s room for everyone when it comes to helping our dogs live happy, stress-free lives with their wacky humans—as long as we do no physical or emotional harm—and we respect and acknowledge the contributions each other has made.
Terry Long, CPDT-KA
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