Can you ever really learn too much? How much “subject matter expert” status is too much? While it may be impossible to know everything about your hobbies or interests, there’s certainly no harm in trying. When passion, drive and enthusiasm intersect with a person’s chosen career path, quenching the thirst for knowledge is nearly impossible. One of the many things I love about the path I’ve chosen in the field of professional dog training is that it demands practitioners to stay current and be educated. No relying on outdated forceful techniques that were used to work with dogs in decades past. Hello learning theory and science, good-bye cave man.

The field of dog training is an unregulated industry, which means that anyone can print up business cards and claim to be a “dog trainer.” Maybe they’ve taken a dog training class with their own dog, read a book or two or watched a “reality” TV program. Or maybe they have even less education than that. What a dangerous set of circumstances for poor dependent, unsuspecting dogs and their well-meaning owners everywhere.

Thankfully, in 1993 Ian Dunbar, DVM, Ph.D. founded the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, APDT as a professional organization of individual trainers committed to becoming better trainers through education, while promoting dog-friendly training techniques and encouraging their use. In an effort to apply standards to the field of professional dog training and legitimize humane dog training practices based on science and learning theory, the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers, CCPDT was formed in 2001. Leaders in the field of progressive positive dog training got together and developed the first independently offered credentialing process in the field of dog training. The first credential available was the CPDT, or Certified Professional Dog Trainer designation. Applicants must prove that they have trained hundreds of dogs prior to applying for the test in addition to providing veterinary, client and colleague references.

Unlike many dog training “credentials” offered by companies with a vested interest in applicants passing via unmonitored take home tests, the CPDT credential is applied for and tested completely independent of any dog training company or business. CPDT application, testing and continuing education processes are rigorous and meaningful. The testing process itself is administered and monitored by the Professional Testing Corporation, PTC. Applicants are tested at Universities or other academic locations with a test proctor under very strict timed conditions. Believe me, it’s not something I want to do again anytime soon! Once you achieve the CPDT title, you must continue to evolve and learn and attend classes to earn continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain the designation within specified time periods. With such a prestigious title available, why wouldn’t someone interested in a career as a professional dog trainer earn it?

Now back to the thirst for knowledge. I earned one of the early CPDT designations back in 2003 and I’m just getting ready to renew it for the third time. Over the past 3 years I needed to earn 36 CEUs for my CPDT-KA renewal. I must be dehydrated or something because as of this writing, I have 85 CEUs for this three year renewal alone and I’m thirsty for MORE!

Here’s the full list: Dog Genie Continuing Education Classes

Pictured Here: Genie Tuttle, BA, CPDT-KA and Dr. Ian Dunbar

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