Becoming a Certified Professional Dog Trainer


As many of you may know, earlier this year I shared the great news that I recently earned the designation, Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). Earning this certification is part of my commitment to providing dog owners in Brandon with dog daycare services and programs based on cutting edge knowledge of dog behavior. Prairie Dog Daycare is now the only dog daycare in Brandon, Manitoba that is owned and operated by a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.

Please read on to learn more about the certification process and requirements.

The Certification Process

The Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers is an independent certification agency. This means that it is not related to any educational institutions and as such is in a position to provide objective testing of Candidates. This also means that certification candidates come from all backgrounds: Some candidates are self-taught, some candidates have followed online education programs, some have gone to dog training school and others have apprenticed under another trainer. In my case, I am self-taught (books, seminars) and have apprenticed with another trainer, Renee Will of Two Brown Dogs Canine Consultants. Regardless of how applicants come to their knowledge of dogs and dog training, they must all demonstrate their experience and skills through standardized testing and continuing education.

In order to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, one must meet the eligibility requirements, pass the exam and maintain certification. Details on each of these steps are below.

Eligibility requirements

  • At least 300 hours experience in dog training within the last five (5) years.
  • A high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • 3 references – one from a veterinarian, one from a canine training colleague and one from a dog training client
  • Completion and filing of an application for the Certification Examination for Professional Dog Trainers – Knowledge Assessed.
  • Signing and filing The CCPDT Code of Ethics.

The exam

In order to become a certified professional dog trainer, each eligible applicant must answer two hundred fifty (250) multiple-choice, objective questions within a total testing time of four (4) hours. Exam questions are obtained from individuals with expertise in dog training and are reviewed for construction, accuracy, and appropriateness by The CCPDT. Questions cover various topics including :

  • Instruction Skills
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Ethology
  • Learning Theory
  • Equipment
  • Business Practices and Ethics


Once an applicant has successfully become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer they must re-certify once every 3 years in one of two ways:

  • Collect Continuing Education Credits
  • Re-take the certification Exam which changes to reflect the most up to date training methods and practices.

Links & Resources

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers Code of Ethics


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