Qualifying for a Certificate in Training and Counseling

What does it mean to earn a Certificate in Training and Counceling (CTC)?

Successful completion of The Academy program qualifies graduates to use the designation CTC, which stands for Certificate in Training and Counseling. Our CTCs have a well-earned reputation as being comprehensively trained for the job of pet dog training, able to achieve outcomes humanely and efficiently. They get the job done, and without force – or any use of aversive stimuli –  where others often flounder.

How does The Academy achieve this? Firstly, because of the complexity of our work, the program is two years long (in fact, our support extends beyond the two-year program, with supervised practice and graduate support in our many active communities). This time is essential for our students to learn, to rehearse application from multiple angles, and to “marinate in” the amount of material necessary for our multifaceted jobs as pet dog trainers. From learning theory to its application in training to concrete, step-by-step procedures for training standard behaviors pet dogs need, to the weaving of these principles into behavior modification and case wrangling, The Academy is unparalleled. The curriculum has been continuously honed over twenty years.

Another strength is our focus on client counseling. In-depth modules, core and guest-speaker webinars, case studies, case discussion and case support ensure that CTC holders are able to successfully train dogs and coach and counsel their human clients through all manner of behavior issues. Differences from other programs include:

  • Comprehensive training in case triage, prognosis estimating, approaching cases and counseling skills for clients whose dogs display aggression, fearfulness, and other behavior problems.
  • Provision of and training in the use of field-tested standard operating procedures and training plans for common behavior problems. CTCs also learn to create new behavior change plans that are both incremental and efficient. The use of plans and protocols prevents the trainer from re-inventing the wheel with each client.
  • Self-care is a focus throughout the program. Dog training is a helping discipline, practiced in an environment without regulation, and this climate often adds to the general stress of our profession. We recognize the prevalence of compassion fatigue and burnout in helping professions, and we support our practitioners with self-care and best practices information, expert speakers and, most importantly, a thriving community of like-minded, compassionate colleagues. Academy students often make friends for life.   
  • The program does not rely on surface-level learning. Graduates understand canine ethology, applied behavior analysis, evolution, learning theory, breeds and genetics and the effect of these on behavior, and more.
  • Carefully vetted, evidence-based practices and materials, and training in critical thinking and how to evaluate evidence. Dog training is unregulated in most countries, as is how dog trainers are educated, and so our profession is rife with fads and shiny-object methods and practices. The Academy curates information so that students can feel confident that what they are being taught is grounded in sound science. And our “teach to fish” philosophy trains students to read academic literature as well as unpack methods and ideas put forward for themselves.

The Certificate in Training and Counseling prepares graduates to embark on a successful career as a dog trainer through an unparalleled, carefully honed program that builds on skills and knowledge gained at each level. Learn more about the curriculum and levels program here.

Completing The Program

Our program generally takes two years to complete. While it’s not designed as a full-time program of study, it does call for commitment. Most students work between 15 and 20 hours per week at the program.

Your progress through The Academy is organized in four levels, modelled after the US college system.  You’ll have six months to study for each level. At the end of six months, you must demonstrate you’ve achieved the required standard before you progress to the next level. If you find you’re flying through the material, and your training skills are in order, you can progress faster if you wish, or roll time forward to subsequent levels. Six months is the maximum for each level.

You’ll start as a Freshman, progress to Sophomore, Junior and then Senior, qualifying at each level, before taking the final exam to achieve a CTC.

To progress from level to level you must:

  • Submit videos that demonstrate your skills in training specific behaviors. The videos don’t need to be polished in production values, just clear enough for us to see your technique, including your decision-making process.
  • Pass the required assignments.  The assignments are designed to show you can translate your knowledge into professional-grade training and modification plans for clients and their dogs.
  • Pass the knowledge test for that level.

Student Support

The Academy is known for its support of both students and graduates.

Continuous coaching: We coach you intensively to develop your training technique. You will submit training videos as you study for each level. We’ll review it and shape your training technique. With steady feedback, you’ll never wonder how well your practical skills are developing. We’re constructive throughout (we walk the R+ walk) and this models the approach we teach you to adopt with your own clients.

Group study and mentoring: Aside from The Academy Café, where students, staff and graduates hang out and connect, you can join the study groups for each level and get guidance from your peers as well as the Academy staff on the material and practica for that level.  Our discussion forums are without parallel in the world of applied dog behavior. Everybody’s game is raised through critical thinking, dialog and friendly debate. And because dog training is a helping profession where burnout and compassion fatigue are high risks, we encourage self-care and plenty of fun.  Nobody gets into dogs to increase the drudgery in their lives.

Quizzes and practice tests: The modules have embedded quizzes on all topics, and we have an accumulation of quiz webinars you may access on a variety of germane topics, and new quizzes are offered regularly.

What if I don’t make it?

We will do all we can to give you help, but ultimately your success is up to you. We are aiming for excellence and our graduates have to meet a high standard. High standards are exactly what the dog training industry most needs and we will not compromise on this.

At each level, you can submit the required training video as early and as often as you like. We’ll keep on giving you feedback until you submit video that meets the standard or until the six months for that level has passed. After that point if you have not completed your work, you will have dropped out of The Academy.

For written assignments and knowledge tests, you get two tries at each. If you do not pass the first, you can make a second attempt within a month.  If you fail on your second attempt, you will have dropped out of The Academy.

If you drop out, you will be free to continue to study the materials as you wish, but you won’t have access to coaching, webinars or our online platform and discussion groups. We are unable to refund the cost of the course if you drop out.

We carefully screen all applicants and only accept a small number who we believe have the aptitude and determination to succeed. However, the course does require a high degree of personal application and dedication.