Letters behind our names…..are they a measure of our worth? Do they tell you anything about who I really am? Are they really important? The answer to all of these questions could be yes and it could be no.
Yes, they may show that you have studied and were able to retain the information long enough to pass a test. They can tell you what organizations a person may deem significant or important to learn from and associates to that system of beliefs. And, yes, they can be important, they can differentiate that one person is continuing to learn and adjust their training to keep abreast of the current scientific information on learning from the one who has been teaching the same way for 10, 20 or even 30 years.
What they can’t tell you is how much knowledge the person has retained. Is that person following the scientific and/or belief systems of the certifying organization or were they just looking for the “legitimacy” of letters behind their name? Do they really give you a true idea into who the person is?
With these questions at hand, it is important to know what organization is certifying the person, what is that organizations methods, what do those letters stand for? What did it take to earn those letters? And, how do you know that the individual retained the information, or adheres to the methods learned?
You can find out who issued the certification for those letters by googling “dog training certification xxx” (xxx being the letters behind the name). With the name of the organization involved, you can search that organization. Look to see what the course cost. Who teaches it? Is the teacher recognized by their peers in the dog training world (do they speak at the Professional Pet Guild, Association of Professional Dog Trainers or Karen Pryor Clicker Expo conferences?) Have they written any training books? How long was the course? Is there hands on evaluation, or just video? Are they tested, if so, what is tested…knowledge, teaching, training? Is continuing education required to keep the certification?
Armed with this information, you can now call and talk to the trainer. Ask questions about the education provided by those courses, talk to them about the faculty or instructors. Ask how they handle a situation where the dog is not learning. Ask what type of corrections they use and equipment they use. Be wary of the words “balanced”, “when used correctly” and “commands”. Notice an emphasis on solving unwanted behavior that does not introduce teaching a different behavior (if jumping is the problem, are they wanting you to knee the dog, and/or tell the dog “no” or “off”)? Or are they suggesting ignoring the unwanted behavior and training a sit or down (the dog can’t jump and sit at the same time) or possibly changing the environment to make it easier for the dog to sit instead of jump.
Now you have information to make a choice. Follow your instincts, if it doesn’t feel or sound right, then look farther. You owe it to yourself and your dog to find a trainer who will help you build a great relationship, one where your dog is eager to take part in training and one where you can’t wait to work with your dog.
If you have questions or would like more information about building a great foundation with your dog that will allow you both to thrive, please contact me and let’s see what we can do!
Jan Gould, KPA CTP
KPA, CTP: Karen Pryor Academy, Certified Training Partner
Knowledge, training and teaching assessed.