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What's with all the letters?

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

We joke in my family that the letters after my name look like alphabet soup.

They do, I'm sorry. I know many people don't know or may not care what the letters mean, but they are important to me. There are a few reasons why I choose to have alphabet soup after my name, and they are not to make your eyes roll back in your head, I promise.

When needing help with a dog and researching different certifications, the "best" certifications are unclear. Dog training and dog behavior consulting is unregulated. There is not one certifying body that ensures your trainer has the knowledge and skills to be successful helping your dog. With all the media on TV and the Internet, it's hard to know who or what to trust.

Fortunately, a few organizations have been making strides in consolidating resources, training and certification. I choose to align with those with foundations that embrace science and kindness, and follow the humane hierarchy. I have sought membership, education and certification through these organizations because (1) I value their commitment to safe and effective training (2) I want to be aligned with them and (3) I want to be found by people who value education and training in someone trusted to care for a beloved pet.

Check out the details below.


The Letters in the Soup


CTC: Certificate in Training and Counseling from the Academy for Dog Trainers

Known as the "Harvard" of dog training schools, the Academy offers this two year comprehensive program with in- depth education in dog training, behavior modification and client counseling. I graduated with honors from this rigorous program. Learn more about the CTC designation.


To achieve certified status, the IAABC recommends 500 hours of experience in animal behavior consulting and 400 hours minimum of coursework, seminars and mentorships. The process includes a rigorous application requiring the demonstration of knowledge in learning science, case studies and scenarios. Applications are peer-reviewed by multiple respected practitioners and scientists. The IAABC Application Handbook details the requirements of and differences between certification levels.


Dip. CBST: Diploma of Canine Behavior Science and Technology from Companion Animal Sciences Institute

This 500 hour, 1 year program focuses on all aspects of canine behavior modification at an in-depth, Master's level. Learn more about the Dip. CBST requirements and curriculum.


The Accredited Dog Trainer credential requires submission and approval of an in-depth application that demonstrates knowledge and competency in dog training. This peer reviewed, anonymously scored program recognizes trainers practicing LIMA and requires following the humane hierarchy


Fear Free Certified Professional from Fear Free Pets

This education and certification program helps trainers partner with veterinarians and pet owners to alleviate fear, anxiety and stress during veterinary and home care. Click here to learn more about the program.


This program focuses on shelter behavior, including how to recognize how animals feel in the confined shelter environment, understanding how they learn, understanding body language, and fear free handling.

This master course for trainers and behavior consultants is taught by renowned aggression expert, Michael Shikashio who also holds the CDBC credential..


The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers offers twice yearly multi-hour exams for candidates to demonstrate broad knowledge in dog training.


Below are links to my other degrees and courses completed on my journey to becoming a Canine Training and Behavior Consultant:

PMP: Project Management Professional from the Project Management Institute


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