What, you ask, in the world does CPDT-KA mean? And why do I have those letters behind my name on my signature?

WELL….. it is because I passed my exam to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal. I passed a test. Whoopie.

But it is a huge deal. Especially to me. I have been training dogs since about 2003. I actually got into dog training because I was determined to never do harm to a dog, especially mine. It took a lot of research, calls, auditing classes and talking to people to finally find a class for me and my then pup, Charlie, that did not utilize choke chains. Positive reinforcement was an anomaly in 2003. I had never used choke chains on my dogs. But I had also never trained a dog per say until Charlie. My previous dogs Samantha and Aspen, were wonderful dogs, a shletie and a husky respectively, but I was never involved with them like I really wanted to be. They were not taken out for walks much nor did they go places with me. They were great dogs, but not what I was determined to make my new dog into. And I was going to train this dog doing no harm, even if it killed me.

I started teaching classes in 2008. It was scary thinking I was going to be utilizing the knowledge I had gained: reading books, going to seminars and workshops, going to training classes with my dogs, joining training organizations, and imparted that to other people as knowledge. The dog training world has no perimeters. Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, and many do. And here I was, trying to drop my one little seed into an ocean of water.

I was determined to help other folks find a way to train their dogs in a positive way, no choke chain, no prong collars, no shock collars, no hitting, no pushing, no leash yanking or screaming at their dog. It was so hard for me to find a positive trainer, that I wanted to be the resource others who thought like me, could go to for assistance and guidance. Business started small. Really small….I was changing the world, one dog owner at a time.

Business started to grow a little at a time, by word of mouth. To me,that was fabulous because I knew other people enjoyed learning without adversive techniques. So I kept on learning. More and more books, videos, workshops, and training classes for my dogs and I. Pouring every ounce of knowledge I was gaining into teaching other humans how to work with their dogs.

Many folks ask what school I went to. Well, it was the school of hard knocks. There are not a lot of accredited schools out there for Positive Reinforcement Dog Training. And the ones that are out there are in different states, require you to be there to take their classes and it is very, very  expensive. So most dog trainers like me, teach ourselves.

A few years ago, I starting looking into certification. Oh my, the requirements were so beyond what I thought I was capable of at the time. I didn’t know if I could ever do it. But I continued to push my knowledge base. I expanded on what I was helping other folks with and I put the certification to the back of my mind. I now have the pleasure of having some really good friends that are also positive reinforcement trainers. And we do have this discussion about certification. Is it important? Who is it important to? Will our clients care?

This last year I looked at the certification parameters again and decided it was time for me to try. I felt I had gained enough knowledge and enough training hours to sit for the test.

Here are the requirements that need to be met before you can be granted a spot to test:

CCPTD requirements (I’m providing the link as it is 5 pages of requirements)

Plus a log with a minimum of 300 hours of teaching in a 3 year time period. The good news is, I had about 1000 training hours since the last part of 2009. I lost my tracking of classes from 2008 to Oct. 2009 so I counted my hours from there forward.

And of course, a hefty fee.

The test is only offered twice a year. It is 250  questions and you have 4 hours to complete it. It takes approximately 6 weeks for you to get the results. I have to say, the test was grueling. There were things on there I have never heard of before. And there were questions, that for me, there were no good answers for.

I was sure I had failed. Even so, I was not going to be detoured from being the best trainer I could be.

I LOVE training. I am proud to say I am a completely force free, positive reinforcement trainer. My heart wants to explode every time I see a pair, human and dog, start to really communicate with each other. And to see the changes that the dogs can go thru to become happy and love training and playing with their human is such happiness, sometimes it makes me cry. It makes me proud to see a partnership happen, right before my eyes of human and canine when they are all enjoying what they are doing.

And it does my heart proud when I have returning clients. Not only do I adore the dogs, but I have met many friends thru my classes.

I’m passionate about what I do, I believe it what I do.

Interestingly enough, last month I received my notice in the mail from the Certification Council of Profession Dog trainers. It confirmed that I actually  knew what I was doing and I passed that 250 question, grueling test.

I am very proud to say I am now Robin Terrell, CPDT-KA.

It’s because of you, my friends and clients, that I continue to push forward with learning all that I can. I strive forward with your dogs in mind and the dogs that will continue to be brought  into all of our lives. And for the rescues that need our help.

Yes, there are a lot of dog trainers out there.  And I am very proud to be able to be one of a select group of trainers that vows to do no harm and do my very best at helping you learn. And to be able to add those 6 crazy letters behind my name. There is no time to sit on my laurels. Now that I have my certification, I have to have 36 hours of continuing ed points every three years to keep those crazy letters. So…. I am off. To my next workshop……….