All dog trainers are not created equal

All dog trainers are not created equal

Spray bottles, rolled-up newspapers and "No! Bad dog!" not your training cup of tea? Make sure your veterinary practice works with the right trainers with tips from behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta.
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Jan 28, 2016
By dvm360.com staff

You're probably not into the spray-bottle-and-newspaper-swatting technique for dog training. Behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta explains below how she looks for something different from her dog trainers. (Photo: Troy Van Horn)With behavior issues sending many pets to shelters and voluntary euthanasias, it’s no wonder the Wild West of anything-goes dog training in America today has behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta a little frightened.

“Nobody’s certifying dog trainers in the eyes of the law,” says Radosta, DACVB, owner of Florida Veterinary Behavior Service in West Palm Beach, Florida. “This is scary stuff.”

Radosta now relies on two programs for trainers at her specialty behavioral practice. If you’re trying to find a trainer to recommend to pet owners or interested in dog training certification for yourself in practice, these get Radosta’s thumbs-up:

1. Karen Pryor Academy of Animal Training and Behavior, which Radosta says “requires coursework” and gives graduates a “good working knowledge of operant and classic conditioning” so they can adjust methods to match the individual animal.

2. Academy for Dog Trainers, founded by Jean Donaldson, whose six-week program was good and now offers an even more rigorous two-year program, according to Radosta. “These trainers learn ethology, research and dog breeds and making detailed training plans,” she says.

Radosta says two other credentials—CPDT-KA and CPDT-KSA—are acceptable alternatives for hospitals without nearby graduates from those two schools: “Those graduates have taken a voluntary exam, and in the case of the KSA, they’ve submitted videos showing their teaching of dogs they didn’t know beforehand.”

And that’s it, Radosta says: “Those are the only ones I’ll consider.” Well, or a related master’s degree. But who’s got time for that?