Updated: Apr 28, 2020
One of these things is not like the other:
Your doctor graduated from medical school.
Your hairstylist has a license.
Your HVAC repairman has a certificate.
Your dog trainer hung out a shingle.
Well that's kind of weird, right? I mean, I definitely don't want to hand over my hard earned cash to someone that isn't going to be able to accomplish the task at hand (and possibly make matters worse).
It's not only weird, it's scary. Don't forget that dog trainers often work with aggressive dogs, dogs that can pose a threat to public safety. Do we want someone who's only binge watched The Dog Whisperer taking on that kind of responsibility? I certainly don't.
The most commonly cited credential is "I've had dogs my entire life." Well, you know what? I've been driving a car for over a decade and I know nothing about fixing one. My favorite credential I've ever seen for a dog trainer was "Registered Nurse." Talk about skills that don't transfer!
In the name of promoting true competency, I'll list some of the resources you can use to find a reputable dog trainer:
Remember, if you can't find a reputable trainer in your immediate area, there are great trainers out there that do remote consulting. Also don't be afraid to reach out to the closest trainer you can find, they may be willing to travel to your area or provide you with a referral you wouldn't have found otherwise.
Anyone that calls themselves a dog trainer and takes money for hire should have an understanding of how animals learn and the science behind changing behavior, as well as the necessary mechanics to do so.
Unfortunately we are currently living in a society in which no education is legally required of dog trainers. Hopefully this will change in the future. Until then, the onus is on the dog training industry to try to advance the cause of licensing requirements, and owners to seek out the professionals who have obtained an education.