Why seek becoming a Certified Dog Trainer with IACP?

This title verifies competence as a dog trainer with advanced skills.  The IACP acknowledges the struggles dog trainers face when seeking assistance to help them further develop their dog training skills due to lack of reliable referral. The CDT portfolio assessment is designed to assess well-rounded Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) by recognizing a dog’s temperament, how to shape its behavior, and the ability to educate the dog’s owners.  The portfolio assessment itself is a combination of written narrative reports and written client feedback that are reviewed by a panel of professional peers.   ​Examples of topics and skills addressed in the portfolio are listed below with the most common elements listed in bold. Certificants are provided feedback at the end of the process from this peer review that maybe used to shape and improve their personal training approach.

  • How dogs learn
  • Social behavior and communication
  • Dog sensory abilities
  • Physical Conditioning
  • Applied dog behavior
  • Dog testing and selection
  • Housetraining and crate training
  • Canine training tools and equipment
  • Puppy development
  • Behavioral problems
  • Training through play and recreational activities
  • Canine health, basic veterinary issues
  • Canine environmental habitat such as schedules for cleaning, grooming, feeding, exercises on a day-to-day basis.
  • Knowledge of dog breeds
  • Basic understanding of different types of dog sports and working purposes such as hunting training, assistance dogs, agility training, search and rescue training, etc.
  • Dog training business practices such as legal issues, customer services, and communication skills. 

Applicants passing the CDT Portfolio Assessment may add the initials IACP-CDT to their name.


How do I take the CDT Portfolio Assesment?

Eligibility: Professional dog trainers must  have three (3) years of professional dog training experience to be considered  eligible to take the CDT Portfolio Assessment.  

Application: Trainers  must first apply to take the exam by submitting the following materials. To apply for the CDT Portfolio Assessment and pay Registration Fee, click here. If you experience online registration difficulties, please contact certification@canineprofessionals.com.

  • CDT Portfolio Assessment Application Form and Registration Fee of $100.00 (US)
  • Three (3) Letters of Reference
  • Employment Resume
  • Blank copy of Client Contract, Registration, or Intake Form 

Once an application has been approved, you will receive an official CDT Welcome Letter that will identify when you may start your exam and when your exam is due.  The official exam dates will allow you one (1) year to complete the exam and submit your completed portfolio materials for grading.

Portfolio Materials: The CDT Portfolio Assessment consists of three (3) written Case Studies documenting dog training sessions with three different dogs.  The case study narrative requires you to describe the situation of the dog and owner when you first meet, what training plan you developed or classes you offered, how you implemented or applied that plan, and 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.  Each case study includes:

  • IACP Intake Questionnaire (prepared before the training program begins) 
  • Written narrative explanations for each lesson (actual training), a minimum of 3 lessons and maximum of 6 lessons per dog  
  • Reflection (end of training program)
  • Photographs
  • Handouts
  • Client Feedback Form

What Language is the CDT Portfolio Assessment In?

The primary language for the CDT Portfolio Assessment and supporting documents is English.  CDT Portfolio Assessment packages written or spoken in languages other than the English language must be accompanied with a translation in English.  Other languages currently available for the CDT Portfolio Assessment, not requiring an English translation are,

  • Spanish (effective September 1, 2021)
  • ​​French (to be announced)

What accommodations will IACP provide if I have a disability? 

IACP is committed to making sure that applicants with disabilities can take tests with the accommodations they need. The CDT Portfolio allows each applicant to select the preferred dog training of their choice.  All reasonable requests are considered. 



IACP Certificant Code of Ethics Policy


Certificants are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of ethics, exceeding legal minimum, through self-regulation of their personal conduct.  Certificantes are required to sign and adhere to the IACP Code of Conduct Affidavit for Certificants and the Certificant Code of Ethics.  These affidavits are required during certification exam application, initial issuance, and/or renewal.   

To see, download or print a copy of the complete:

IACP  Certificant Code of Ethics Policy (July 22, 2020), click here.

IACP Certificant Code of Ethics Affidavit, click here

IACP Certificant Code of Conduct Affidavit, click here                        


To see, download, or print a Spanish copy of the complete:

Política Sobre el Código de Ética del Certificador (julio 22, 2020), haga clic aquí
Código de Ética del Certificador-Declaración Jurada de Certificante, haga clic aqui
Código de Conducta del Certificador-Declaración Jurada de Certificante, haga clic aquí



CDT Disputes

Any person who feels the need to dispute any parts of the CDT application, portfolio assessment, or final grade are encouraged to initiate a formal dispute in accordance with the IACP Education and Certification Dispute Policy (September 1, 2020).


To see, download, or print an English copy of the complete:

CDT Resource Manual-English, click here.
IACP Intake Questionnaire (word), click here.
IACP Intake Questionnaire (pdf), click here.
CDT Portfolio-3 Lessons-English, click here.
CDT Portfolio-4 Lessons-English, click here.
CDT Portfolio-5 Lessons-English, click here.
CDT Portfolio-6 Lessons-English, click here.
Client Feedback Form (word), click here.
Client Feedback Form (pdf), click here.

To see, download, or print a Spanish copy of the complete:

CDT Resource Manual-Spanish, click here.
CDT Resource Manual-Spanish, click here.
IACP Intake Questionnaire-Spanish (word), click here
IACP Intake Questionnaire-Spanish (pdf), click here
CDT Portfolio-3 Lessons-Spanish, click here.
CDT Portfolio-4 Lessons-Spanish, click here.
CDT Portfolio-5 Lessons-Spanish, click here.
CDT Portfolio-6 Lessons-Spanish, click here.
Client Feedback Form-Spanish (word), click here.
Client Feedback Form-Spanish (pdf), click here.


Please direct any questions about the CDT Portfolio Assessment or Resource Manual to IACP Certification at certification@canineprofessionals.com.