Let’s talk plainly about “Certified” and or “Accredited”dog training. Over the years I’ve heard of way too many piss-poor, God-awful dog training and behavior modification methods coming directly from genuine “accredited” and “certified” trainers. The wise dog or puppy owner would NOT let these buzz words fool them because they would understand that all animals don’t give a fig about human organizations and they don’t care whether a person has initials after their name. The wise person would understand that not all trainers are created equal and that each have differing personalities, differing gifts and talents, differing strengths and weaknesses, and vastly differing levels of experience – which result in different results and experience for their clientele.
If you could glance at my business email inbox you’d see several emails from organizations like the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) or the CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainers) and others wherein they desire to “refer potential new clients” my way in exchange for my coming under/into their organization. They do this so they can put their initials on my website and so they can grow their organization. I could easily become “certified” under any number of these made-up “institutions.”
My question…who the heck are they? What gives them, or almost any organization for that matter, any credence as far as proper animal husbandry and, more specifically, dog language and behavior training goes? Just because a few people came together, did some paperwork, got a website and sent many emails to try and make money off of many people doesn’t mean in the slightest that they can deliver real world results for dogs and for people! Did you know that Petsmart has “accredited” training? People, Petsmart and Petco are the some of the lowest levels of dog training that exist on the earth.
The point of this post…Don’t be fooled by random initials when looking for help with your dog’s behavior instead look at family, friends, and neighbors and talk to them about their dog’s behaviorist or trainer. Word of mouth is and always will be the absolute best. Next look at the work the trainer has done. Examine their website and really read the thing. Check their philosophy. After that look at the reviews online and read between the lines because not all reviews are the same either! There is a massive difference between a raving review about an aggressive dog being transformed into a gentle pooch versus a review about how great the local puppy group class was. The dog trainer or behaviorist should also have reviews from other professionals in the pet industry (dog daycare owners, vets, groomers, etc). Pay attention to the details, Friends, or you’ll really pay with your money and your time if you end up hiring a bad trainer or another cookie-cutter behaviorist no matter their level of man-made “certification!”
Am I totally against certification? No. In fact, if the organization actually does real work (you know that thing that many folks shun these days) and if they have a great, hard-won reputation for success and for professionalism within the industry it may be something to check out but make no mistake…dogs don’t care about any of this. They care about touch, space, movement, and energy. And human clients care about results. That’s it.
(Here at Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center we have actually begun certifying qualified individuals in the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior training. Thus far it’s only been one guy that’s made the cut, my young apprentice, Jesse. I’m not sending out mass emails and telling people they can become a “certified” or accredited” trainer for just twelve easy payments of $99.00 bucks a month. Don’t cheapen my art you clowns!
This is a pic of me and my first dog, Bosley, working the bite sleeve many moons ago.