First, I'd like to announce that after 4 years and 9 months in business, I finally created a Facebook page (for better or worse). You can follow my page here.
Thanks to all of you who have already liked and joined WindyWalksPDX on Facebook. It’s hard to believe that I started this business back in January of 2016. So, why start a FB page now, you may be wondering? Mostly because I wanted to officially announce my intention to move into the sphere of dog training. It seems a natural progression from the animal work I already do, and it also gives me a chance to expand upon the knowledge and skills I’ve gained over the past 4 years and 9 months of working with everyone’s pets.
What does it take to be a dog trainer? Can anyone be a trainer? The answer is a bit complicated. It’s important to understand that dog training is currently an unregulated industry, as is dog walking and pet sitting. But, just as responsible dog walkers/pet sitters try to get as much training and education as they can, in addition to acquiring a business license and insurance, responsible dog trainers work toward certification by seeking out independent organizations that can assess their professional knowledge and skills. While certification is NOT a requirement for dog trainers, there are reputable organizations trying to change that (here are a few).
I have decided to work on getting the Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), offered by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. I believe and support their force-free, positive reinforcement training methods with all my heart. But becoming a professionally certified dog trainer requires more than just a love of dogs, it also requires a bit of hard-earned work, like obtaining a minimum of 300 hours’ experience in dog training within the last 3 years, submitting an attestation statement from a CPDT member or veterinarian, signing a code of ethics, and passing a 250-question multiple-choice exam.
One of the eligibility requirements I’m currently working on is gaining hands-on dog training experience. This can include private lessons, group classes, consultations, shelter work, private lessons, and workshops. I’ve already done one-on-one training with some of you and your pups... though, always careful to advise that I’m NOT a trainer, but put to practice training techniques I've learned, with your prior approval. And, I’ve recently reached out to a few trainers who have graciously agreed to mentor me and provide me with the hands-on training hours I’ll need.
Since this is a knowledge-based test, I’ve also got a lot (more) studying to do. Always the consummate learner, I grab learning opportunities whenever I can. As some of you can attest, I’ve gone so far as to borrow friends’ dogs to take to obedience and training classes. I’ve also obtained and kept current my certification in Pet CPR & First Aid. And I continue to educate myself with all the up-to-date reading material I can find, related to pet health, care, and training. In an effort to be the best dog walker I can be, I use any opportunity I can to put my reading-based knowledge into practical, hands-on use.
So, circling back around, I’m really excited to announce to you all my journey into dog training. Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, but I want to prove to you that I take this work seriously by earning the certification I need to call myself a “certified professional dog trainer.” Do you have any questions for me? Please head on over to Facebook and join the discussion! Hopefully, others can benefit from the FB Q&A forum and get their questions answered too. Thank you ALL for your continued support of WindyWalksPDX!