The past several years have seen a huge upsurge in people advertising themselves as dog trainers. In many cases these are individuals who have little experience with dogs, other than perhaps their own, and who apparently believe that training one dog or even, simply “loving” dogs, is sufficient to qualify them represent themselves as dog trainers to the unsuspecting public. In some instances, these individuals’ sole qualification is to have completed an on-line course and received a certificate claiming they are a “dog trainer”.
While in the past, qualified dog trainers simply shook their heads and continued on with the task of actually training dogs, this epidemic has now reached such proportions that is having a serious negative impact upon not only the profession of dog training, but also upon dog ownership as well.
The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, Inc. (NADOI) was founded in 1965 by a group of obedience instructors who recognized the need to elevate the profession of instructing dog training. The purpose of the organization was, and is still, to gather together those individuals who are interested in dog obedience training and the instruction of dog owners; to advocate training by humane methods and to work to eliminate abusive and inhumane training methods; to improve methods of instruction for all breeds of dogs; to provide a means of training individuals as competent obedience instructors; to establish standards of qualifications for obedience instructors and finally, to provide a means of exchange of ideas, methods and techniques in connection with dog obedience instructions.
While other organizations have come into existence since NADOI was founded, NADOI has remained the only organization that has established and required minimum criteria for members that are designed to ensure that the individual has the requisite skill, knowledge and experience to hold themselves out as a competent obedience instructor.
NADOI has long recognized there is a difference between training dogs and instructing people. Providing competent instruction in dog trainer requires more than just a base knowledge of dogs and training. While it is necessary for a competent instructor to also be a good trainer; the reverse is not always true. Not every good trainer is also a competent instructor. In addition to being knowledgeable about dogs, a good instructor must also be skilled in communicating that knowledge to others and be able to work with a variety of different temperaments in dogs as well as learning styles of their owners.
Limiting oneself to a particular ideology or type of equipment also limits the ability of the instructor to ensure that his or her students or clients are successful with their dogs. Understanding this, NADOI seeks members who have a well-rounded background in dog training and who are, while having his or her own preferences, capable of recognizing when another approach is necessary and who have the knowledge and skill to apply a different approach.
NADOI members, whether paid or volunteers, understand professionalism and that there is an obligation when working with a dog owner to be able to assist that owner to reach his or her goals. This is crucial because it is not the goals of the instructor that matter. At the same time, it is important to realize that in many cases the dog owner does not know what constitutes a trained dog. Often, the instructor has to be able to impart this information, which can mean demonstrating with his or her own dog what a trained dog is capable of, in order to encourage the dog owner to strive to reach higher goals than the dog owner may initially aspire to achieve.
Membership in NADOI is valuable to the instructor on many levels. The application process is rigorous but an instructor who is accepted by NADOI has the satisfaction of knowing he or she has been evaluated by highly competent instructors from diverse backgrounds and with years of experience and found to have demonstrated the breadth of knowledge and experience that raises that instructor above the “average” individual offering instruction to the public. NADOI believes that exposure to new ideas and expanding one’s knowledge is critical to anyone training or instructing and to further this offers many opportunities for continuing education. While these opportunities are available to non-members as well, NADOI members are able to avail themselves of continuing education sponsored by NADOI at a substantial discount.
Selecting an instructor who is a member of NADOI has value to anyone who owns a dog or has a vested interest in ensuring that the needs of the owner and dog are met. The higher standard that NADOI members are held to should assure dog owners that they are making a wise choice, and give them confidence that their training will produce good results.