An internet search for a dog trainer can be confusing and overwhelming. How do you choose between the clicker trainer and the pack leader? Or the lady with 30 years experience and the guy with vague details about his six week "boot camp." With copious amounts of clashing dog training philosophies, some with their own "certifications" it's hard to know right from...not exactly right! Luckily, there IS a leader in science-based dog training. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) was assembled almost two decades ago to "provide a certification program meaningful to trainers and to the public."
So what is science-based dog training? Science-based dog training relies on up-to-date behavioral science. In other words, when you hire a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) you're getting current, as well as humane training techniques that are dependent on the science behind learning and behavior. The CCPDT is committed to certifying trainers who understand how to apply these techniques to a wide variety of behavior problems from fear to impulse control to aggression. To ensure you're hiring a certified trainer look for "CPDT-KA" behind his or her name and visit www.ccpdt.org/ to check their credentials.
"The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) established in 2001, is the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession. The CCPDT is the leader in the development of rigorous exams to demonstrate mastery of humane, science-based dog training practices. Thousands of dog training professionals worldwide maintain the CCPDT’s certifications as a mark of high professional distinction."
Dogs are a resourceful species with the capacity to think, learn and feel. While scientific research continues to uncover new findings about the evolution of the domestic dog, what we do know is that dogs and wolves are not all that alike. By comparison, dogs have a level of social competence that is a result of thousands of years of cooperation with humans. This involves the ability to form attachments, follow rules, regulate aggression and provide assistance. The wolf does not share these abilities in regards to their relationship with humans. So why do some still insist on viewing and treating their dog as a wolf? The subject of dominance and social hierarchy has become a hot topic in the dog world thanks to some outdated ideas and television. Does the domestic dog believe when he’s being held down that his owner is “alpha?” Dominance is defined as a relationship between individuals in order to gain priority access to resources. It is subtle and is most often displayed not by force, but in an act of submission. Sure, this definition can be applied to wolves as well as dogs, but it doesn’t make much sense in the human-dog relationship as access to resources is not a major concern. If your dog steals your steak from the kitchen counter it’s because he had access to a delicious, mouth watering meal. If he charges through the door before you it’s because he hasn’t learned to wait for the cue to go. If he growls at you when he has his favorite toy it’s because he’s had it taken away and hasn’t learned to feel comfortable sharing with you. All of these things can be corrected, not with dominance, but with training. Dogs perceive human attempts at dominance as threatening and the only outcome here is a damaged relationship. If you lead with benevolence your dog will follow willingly. Isn’t this why we love dogs so much? They are our companions and protectors, they give us a reason to go for walks and they sense when we’re distressed. Over time dogs have learned to collaborate with humans better than any other species and for this they are very special. It’s time dogs are respected, not as wolf, but as the human loving, face licking, tail wagging, happy-go-lucky individuals that they are.