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The Importance of Continuing Education

By Pia Silvani, CPDT-KA, CCBC

Dog training is a quite diverse and continually evolving industry where trainers have different philosophies and utilize different techniques. What were once acceptable philosophies and methodologies years ago may not necessarily be accepted in today’s ever changing society where the western world has developed an increasing sensitivity towards the environment and animals. Dog training has been impacted and owners and trainers may be reluctant in employ techniques which were once utilized. Trainers are embracing reward-based training methods that can be easily applied, effective and marketable to the general public.

The general public will be inclined to select trainers who exhibit professionalism, good business practices and compassion for the animals. Trainers must realize the importance of keeping up their credentials through continuing education.

Gaining access to the latest thinking can lead to inspiration for improved skills and help to avoid burnout. In addition, keeping yourself at the top of your game by attending conferences, workshops, seminars and more enhances professional development in the field. Continuing education can help trainers acquire both theoretical and practical knowledge to assist them in improving problem-solving skills so as to be certain they won’t do harm to the dog or its human. By improving skill sets, trainers will be able to encourage and help develop the best techniques possible to achieve success.

Knowledge and competence go hand in hand. Through ongoing advanced education trainers will understand:

  • how to develop a training program

  • how to become a better problem solver

  • how to decide on using different techniques for different situations

  • how to decide on the right/wrong piece of equipment to use

  • how to determine why something may not be working in a certain context

Increasing trainers’ levels of competence should not be limited, however, to scientific studies on canine and human learning explored in journals, books, trade publications and workshops. Nor should continuing education consist of only of practical knowledge. They are of equal importance. Practical knowledge and experience without the study of science and new information does not necessarily guarantee that a trainer is using humane training techniques. One methodology will not work for all humans and all dogs.

Working with dogs of different breeds and various ages, with a variety of temperaments and backgrounds, is necessary to help trainers gain a better insight into how dogs interact in their environment. Having an understanding of canine social behavior enhances trainers’ abilities to develop methods that will be most effective for each particular dog.

While upholding the highest standards through continuing education, trainers should also embrace a basic philosophy whereby they treat dogs and humans with kindness, compassion and respect. Effective, humane trainers use critical thinking about the technique and equipment they are using for a specific task.

Trainers should be open to trying different approaches and equipment with the understanding that not one approach or tool will help all dogs. Having advanced knowledge about how equipment fits and works and being aware of the benefits, limitations and risks are critical for achieving success while avoiding undue harm.

Humane dog trainers with advanced education are able to make people and their dogs feel mentally, physically and emotionally safe, comfortable, supported and respected.

Please visit the Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers’ website at to find a certified trainer in your area.

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