NADOI is an organization for experienced dog obedience instructors. Not only does an aspiring member need to show experience in training, but in teaching people to train. The application for membership is a certification test, and the process of evaluating that test is one that NADOI takes very seriously.
The actual process has been in place almost as long as the organization has existed; forty-six years. When an application is received by the Administrator, she then forwards it to three Evaluators. The Evaluators each thoroughly go over the application and makes his/her recommendation to the Administrator. The application along with the recommendations is then forwarded to the Membership Chair, who presents the application materials and Evaluator reports to the Membership Committee. After review, discussion, and voting the Membership Chair notifies the applicant of the result. Evaluators are handpicked to serve in this capacity because of their own experience and impartiality and a desire to make the right decision for NADOI.
As times changed, the process became challenged. In the beginning, the only game in town was AKC obedience, and that was what the entrance exam was based upon. In those days, evaluating the tests was not as complicated as it became in the mid ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, when pet trainers entered the picture. It was during these times that the process floundered, at one extreme allowing membership to some that shouldn’t have passed, and at the other extreme rejecting some who should have passed. As time went on, a new entry level test was designed that more accurately tested instructors of pet owners. Later that evolved into a more sophisticated entry level test, a version of which is used today. Presently, some of the certification questions are being reworded to make their meaning better understood. The test is constantly being reviewed for improvement.
Meanwhile, the Membership Committee has been using modern technology to improve the system. In 2011, NADOI began accepting applications electronically. The evaluation criteria have recently been standardized so there is more consistency in evaluating the tests. There is better communication with the Evaluators and the feedback to applicants is becoming more informative.
We believe that a certification system in which applicants are evaluated by dog trainers/instructors trained to objectively judge their merits makes good sense. Because dog training and instructing are both an art as much as a science, NADOI believes that requiring applicants to answer questions in their own words is the best way to assess his/her knowledge and abilities.
If you have the knowledge, the test is not hard. It does take some time and thought to thoroughly cover some of the “how do you” and “what do you” questions. You can’t get around that. The questions require critical thinking skills as well as the ability to convey instructions in writing. One criticism of this system is that the applicant could get the answers out of a book. With the Internet, it would be very hard for an applicant to plagiarize someone else’s material; all an Evaluator need do is Google a passage. If that passage is in published form, Google will pull it up.
NADOI is founded on the belief that training methods be humane and effective, and that members be open to alternatives in training. We need for this to show up in a prospective member’s application. NADOI does not endorse any particular method of training. We recognize that some applicants offer “specialized” training only; i.e. pet only, competition only, private lessons only, or group classes only. Our aim is to identify whether or not the applicant has knowledge in dog behavior, can apply that knowledge, and can communicate it to others.
Certification can mean personal validation, or it can give credibility if teaching dog obedience is your business. NADOI has always had a demanding entrance exam, but now it’s called what it is – a certification test. Soon continuing education requirements for members will be put into place. We continue to try to identify weaknesses and fix them. We are working very hard to make NADOI an organization that YOU will want to belong to!