Category Archives: Train the Dog Trainer

What does CPDT-KA Mean?

In my field of pet services there are not any hard and fast rules as to who can put out their shingle advertising their services as a dog trainer.  Sometimes you luck into finding a wonderful trainer who has read everything under the sun, has mIMG_2623any years of experience and has a wonderful rapport with the animals.  And sometimes you find a “trainer” who taught her own dog to sit so therefore she’s a dog trainer. So I became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).

Since there is no legal standard, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) was established in 2001.  The CCPDT is the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession. The CCPDT is the leader in the development of rigorous exams to demonstrate mastery of humane, science-based dog training practices. Thousands of dog training professionals worldwide maintain the CCPDT’s certifications as a mark of high professional distinction.

Before I could even sit for the test, I had to prove I had the following qualifications:

  • A minimum of 300 hours’ experience in dog training within the last 3 years.
  • Provide a signed attestation statement from a CCPDT certificant or a veterinarian

The last requirement was to sign the CCPDT’s Code of Ethics.  This, to me, was one of the most important pieces of becoming a CPDT-KA.

A certificant of the CCPDT pledges to abide by the following:

  1. To operate as a certificant without discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, physical limitation, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, religion, or political beliefs.
  2. To assist clients in establishing humane, realistic, training and behavior goals in accordance with the CCPDT Humane Hierarchy Position Statement.
  3. To understand and fully comply with the CCPDT Training and Behavior Practices Policy.
  4. To use training and behavior modification methods based on accurate scientific research, emphasizing positive relationships between people and dogs and using positive reinforcement-based techniques to the maximum extent possible.
  5. To always provide for the safety of clients and animals in training programs and behavior consultations.
  6. To act with honesty and integrity toward clients, respecting their legitimate training and behavior goals and the autonomy of their choices, provided they conform to societal and legal standards of humane treatment for their pet.
  7. To refrain from public defamation of colleagues, respecting their right to establish and follow their own principles of conduct, provided those principles are ethical and humane according to the CCPDT Humane Hierarchy Position Statement.
  8. To provide truthful advertising and representations concerning certificant qualifications, experience, performance of services, pricing of services and expected results; to provide full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest to clients and other professionals.
  9. To refrain from providing guarantees regarding the specific outcome of training.
  10. To use properly authorized logos and credentials provided by the CCPDT when marketing in print or electronic media.
  11. To obtain written informed consent from any client prior to photographing, video or audio recording a dog training session.
  12. To work within the professional boundaries of the CCPDT certifications and individual expertise and refrain from providing diagnosis, advice, or recommendations in areas of veterinary medicine or family counseling unless certified to do so. This does not preclude referring the client to a veterinary or behavior consulting professional.
  13. To maintain and respect the confidentiality of all information obtained from clients in the course of business; to refrain from disclosure of information about clients or their pets to others without the client’s explicit consent, except as required by law.
  14. To be aware of and comply with applicable laws, regulations, and ethical standards governing professional practices, treatment of animals (including cases of neglect or abuse), and reporting of dog bites in the state/province/country when interacting with the public and when providing dog training or behavior consulting services.
  15. To keep accurate and complete records of clients, their animals and the training and behavior services provided; to ensure secure storage and, when appropriate, confidential disposal of such records.
  16. To continue professional development as required for maintaining the CCPDT credentials in accordance with the policies of the CCPDT.
  17. To refrain from making material misrepresentations as part of the application for certification or recertification.
  18. To maintain and respect the confidentiality and security of the contents of any and all certification examinations of the CCPDT including, but not limited to, refraining from: stealing portions of, or the entire, examination(s); removing written examination materials from a test or meeting site without authorization; reproducing and/or disseminating examination materials without authorization; using paid test takers for the purpose of reconstructing an examination; using improperly obtained test questions to prepare person(s) for the examination; cheating during an examination; impersonating an examinee or having an impersonator take an examination.

If you are looking for a dog trainer in your area and you can’t come to see me please go to the CCPDT website to find a certified dog trainer in your area!


Day 1 and I’m still here!

st. Elizabeth home-backgroundDay one of class was fun! We got to meet each other and find out a little bit about each other. St. Hubert’s is beautiful and they do such good work there. Our classroom also holds about 35 bunnies that the Sanctuary is putting up. They are evidence in a lawsuit so I can’t take pictures or show you the set up. There were volunteers in and out cleaning cages, feeding and watering. Even when had some of the rescue dogs in the room with us, the bunnies didn’t make a peep!

We worked with 10 dogs today — mainly just observing and trying to guess what their genetic make up is.  Most of them were obvious pit mixes but unless we do a DNA test, it is anyone’s best guess.  One of my favorites from today was a white pit mix with brindle patches on his ears named Caesar.  There was definitely something else in there, maybe lab.  Another fav was Tiger who looked like a mastiff/boxer mix.  He was brindle and lived up to his name as he had tiger stripes.

My first dog we took out was named Faith.  She was a seal colored pit lady who looked like she had just had some puppies.  This girl was so sweet but was very anxious around the rabbits.  My partner and I were able to calm her a bit by taking her into a hallway away from the rabbits.  After a little head and neck massage, she calmed down enough to lay on the cool tile floor.  It was then that I knew I was in the right place at the right time.

Up until that moment, I must say I’ve been a little dubious.  St. Elizabeth’s campus is beautiful and has a college as well as a convent.  Dorm life is, well, different.  There is a reason why the young go away to college and not 50 year-old ladies.  First of all, I had to go to Target and buy a step stool to get up on the bed.  I’m deathly afraid of turning over and falling out of the bed.  No TV, no mini fridge…not even a curtain!  But I have an air conditioner, wifi, a bed and a desk and chair.  I also have a sink and vanity so I don’t have to go anywhere to brush my teeth.  I do have to walk across the hall the the showers and the toilet and the kitchen (not all in one place).

dorm roomYou don’t realize how plushy life is until you change your surroundings.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this and I know it will change my life!

I’m driving in a Kia Soul…to the wilds of New Jersey

The title above should be sung to Leaving on a Jet Plane by the formidable John Denver.  Today, I’m embarking on my drive to dog training school!  I’ve made a list and checked it 1.5 times…I didn’t make it through the second check because a squirrel walked by while I was reviewing it!  Six weeks of classroom and hands-on training in New Jersey hosted at St. Hubert’s Animal Sanctuary.  I can’t wait to meet the dogs we are helping!



So Dirk and I are about to depart.  He’s loaded to the sunroof!  I’m staying in a dorm at St. Elizabeth’s College in Madison.  It’s a dry dorm.  But having only spent a single night in a dorm before getting an off-campus apartment in my college years, I’m just not sure what to expect! I have to bring my own linens and towels.  I packed every single pair of underwear I own!

I’m going to be six weeks without my own dogs…it will be ok during the day when I’m working with the shelter dogs but what about at night when I’m all snuggled in with everyone having to touch at least a part of me?  How am I going to sleep on a twin bed????

Maybe I’ll just lay the seats back in Dirk and sleep in the familiar with the sunroof open under the stars of…New Jersey?  New Jersey gets a bum rap but it is actually a very nice state.  i’ll be in central Jersey that has some very nice communities. I’m pretty sure I won’t see a lot.  I just got 11 emails from Amazon for all the books included in this course!

Last night I sat in the middle of piles of clean laundry and just didn’t know what to pack.  If I pack for cooler weather, it will be hot.  If I pack for GA weather, I’ll freeze. I know I’m just going to Jersey and they have stores there but I was having a major panic attack!  Of course, I feel this way anyway when I jump into the unknown.

More to come on the Adventures of a Dog Trainer in Jersey to come…today I just want to get at least half way there!