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 intention for developing certifications is to create a valid evaluation to assess an individual dog trainer’s capability and proficiency. 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.

  • 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?

Professional dog trainers who have three (3) years of professional dog training experience are eligible to take the CDT Portfolio Assessment.  

Before you can start the CDT Portfolio Assessment, you must first apply to take the exam by submitting the following materials:

  • 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 

To apply for the CDT Portfolio Assessment and pay Registration Fee, click here.
If you experience online registration difficulties, please contact certification@canineprofessionals.com.

Once 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 for grading.

The CDT Portfolio Assessment consists of three (3) Case Studies dog training sessions, each of a different dog.  A case study is a method that requires you to describe the situation of the dog and owner when you first meet, what training plan did you develop 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).  Each case study must have a minimum of 3 lessons with a maximum of 6 lessons using the CDT Portfolio for 3, 4, 5, or 6 lessons. 
  • 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. 

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:


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


To apply for the CDT Portfolio Assessment and submit your fee, click here.

If you experience online registration difficulties, please contact:  certification@canineprofessionals.com 
To submit your CDT Portfolio Assessment, click here
Please direct any questions about the CDT Portfolio Assessment or Resource Manual to IACP Certification at certification@canineprofessionals.com.