Certified Dog Trainer Exam

Revised September 7, 2020
Contact: [email protected]

Welcome to a dog trainer certification that tests hands-on skill and uses client feedback to measure the competency of dog trainers. The IACP recognizes that the evolving nature, multitudes of methods, and variations of dogs and owners create challenges in establishing criteria to evaluate trainers’ dog training skills. The art of canine training cannot be synthesized into a rote performance. The IACP CDT exam takes these factors into consideration. IACP developed a test to accurately assess the skills of the applicant by using case studies, client feedback, and review by a panel of professional peers.

The IACP, acknowledging the many ways to become an accomplished dog trainer, develops examinations that all trainers can take and be appropriately recognized at their level of ability. The IACP also acknowledges all methods of humane training as valid and welcomes various methods to be used by its members. The intention for developing certifications is to create a valid evaluation to assess an individual dog trainer’s capability and proficiency. The CDT exam is designed to assess well-rounded basic Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) by recognizing a dog’s temperament, how to shape their behavior, and the ability to educate the dogs’ owners. 

Questions? Contact [email protected]
Who is eligible to take the CDT Exam? 

IACP Professional Members are eligible to take the CDT exam. Associate Members are eligible when they have completed a minimum three (3) years of experience as a practicing canine professional at the time of the CDT Exam Application. 

How do I take the CDT Exam? 

First please read the complete Certified Dog Trainer Exam Instructions and Guidelines: Version 1.9 (September 7, 2020)_updated 9/25/20. Then follow the instructions below.

Eligible IACP members must first be approved to take the CDT exam by submitting the IACP Exam Application and Registration Fee to the IACP. Upon application submission, the IACP member is identified as an “applicant” seeking certification as a dog trainer.  IACP will then review the application and process the registration fee. Application discrepancies or missing fees will result in the application’s rejection and will be returned to the applicant. 

Applications that are accepted by IACP will result in a welcome letter via email notifying the applicant they are officially registered. The welcome letter will identify the CDT Exam’s official start and end dates and link to a website page that contains exam instructions.  


The CDT exam includes three case studies. 
You may be wondering, "What is a case study?" 

Case studies are popular learning tools in the social sciences, medical, and educational fields. A case study is a factual narrative that requires all writing to describe what happened. In its simplest form, a case study’s story consists of a “Problem > Solution > Results”.

The IACP case study format affords the applicant the opportunity to showcase their Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) in the dog training industry. The case study requires you to explain how you changed a dog’s current set of behavior(s) to a different set of behavior(s) as a direct result of your training program. The case study requires the applicant to demonstrate the KSA’s by answering questions in a methodical order. The responses will provide IACP Certification Evaluators with an in-depth insight into the applicant’s competency of:

  • Knowledge on how to recognize canine temperament and behavioral issues
  • Assessing the client's wishes and dog's needs in the selection of the appropriate canine training program
  • Skills in dog training technique and methods used during the training program
  • Ability in teaching and educating clients

The CDT also includes client feedback on the case studies submitted.

To see the complete CDT Instructions and Guidelines, click here.

To submit your paperwork and certification fee, click here.