ANNOUNCEMENT: The Newly Formed Alliance for Professionalism in Dog Training Pursues Licensing Legislation

About the Dog Training Profession

It is important that the public understand that there is a difference between a professional dog trainer and someone who calls themselves a dog trainer but does not have the formal training of a professional. Professional dog trainers are trained and tested members of the business community who are dedicated to ethical and methodological behavioral training of our canine companions.

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT), is the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession. The CCPDT, along with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers® (APDT), the leading trade association and provider of dog trainer education, created the Alliance to advance dog trainer licensure.

Only dog trainers who have received proper training and regularly take part in continuing education are truly qualified to nurture the bond between dog and owner.

The Need for Licensing Legislation

Licensing benefits the public and the dog training profession in ways that voluntary certification alone cannot. Most importantly, licensing boards have the legal authority to set eligibility requirements for entry into the profession and to enforce standards of practice. By developing model legislation, our Alliance can promote higher standards across the country.

The dog training profession is undermined when owners encounter an unqualified or unethical dog trainer. Consumer protection and animal cruelty laws are insufficient safeguards, since a damages award can’t reverse harm to an abused or traumatized dog. Despite the development of voluntary certification programs such as CCPDT and resources such as APDT’s Locate A Trainer website, many dog owners may not know how to determine whether a dog trainer or behavior consultant is qualified, reliable, and humane. Every state in the U.S. has licensing laws for teachers and counselors for people; dogs deserve a similar level of protection.

Why Now?

If the dog training profession does not develop its own licensing framework, the professionalism of certified dog trainers will continue to be underappreciated, and ill-conceived licensing regimes may be implemented. In 2020, legislators in Massachusetts and New Jersey introduced bills to require licensing of professional dog trainers. Although the bills were created without any involvement by CCPDT, both bills incorporated CCPDT certification as a requirement for licensure. The Alliance views this as too restrictive a path for licensing. The model legislation we have drafted calls for licensing boards to publish a list of approved certification programs, rather than limiting the options to CCPDT’s certification alone, as well as a list of approved dog trainer education programs that would meet any minimum education requirements for those certification programs.

A move toward licensing of the profession could very well happen with or without our involvement. By proactively developing and advocating for licensing legislation, we can ensure that our profession influences the legislative process, and we can promote a consistent and sensible approach to licensing.

How will the Alliance operate?  

Our efforts include sharing our model bill with state legislators and encouraging them to advance it through the legislature, coordination on advocacy with other like-minded stakeholders, and, as appropriate, asking dog trainers to engage in grassroots advocacy for dog trainer licensing by contacting their elected officials. We will begin in a few initial states that will serve as pilots for the legislation, but ultimately aim to have the model legislation adopted across the country.