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Competency Assessment Programme (CAP)


Clicker Training is a fast growing teaching method that has evolved into thousands of different classes and interests around the world.

Essentially the definition of a "clicker trainer" is a person who trains using a clicker. Competency is not directly measurable by the description. Some clicker trainers are reaching for the sky and able to achieve astonishing results, some clicker trainers are simply adding the clicker to an existing program of training, which may or may not be coercive.

To gain access to this powerful method the teacher (clicker trainer) needs to be skilled, very self aware, observant, able to analyse, adjust the teaching to suit that particular dog at that particular time. As they develop their skills their understanding of the process deepens and they are able to transfer the learning to other animals, other fields of interest and have genuinely learned to communicate with another species through skilled use of the clicker.

I believe the true power of clicker training is seeded in allowing the dog to self-teach and in particular through the method of capturing the behaviour. The canine ownership of the learning results in very secure cue association and reliability of quality. The dog truly becomes involved in the learning process, becomes highly motivated and teaches us poor humans a thing or two about learning.

The Competency Assessment Program (CAP) is designed to serve two purposes:

  • to provide a clear pathway, with marked steps for learners to gain their skill, knowledge and understanding
  • to provide a certification system validating the competency of clicker trainers

The handler’s skills, not the dog's, are assessed.  It is the handler’s responsibility to provide evidence to the assessor that he/she has achieved the CAP criteria.

The assessment system is intended to highlight what a person has accomplished and give confidence at their achieved level, as well as to identify what skills might be the focus for practice and refinement to achieve the next level.


Assessment is given at three grades:

    1  Pass. Demonstrates some skill, knowledge and understanding, but many areas in need of further development

    2  Merit. Demonstrates good skill, knowledge and understanding, some areas in need of further development

    3  Distinction. Demonstrates excellent skill, knowledge and understanding, in need of little, or no further development

All criteria must at least achieve a 1 to pass.

Achievement in the lower level with Distinction of Merit is required to progress: ie to take Novice Level 2 you will need Merit or Distinction at Foundation Level 1.

Assessors are required to have Distinction in the higher class to assess, ie Distinction in Level 2 to assess Level 1, and will need to shadow assess to gain experience before being a certified assessor.

The assessor will be looking at the process of clicker training through the trainer's technique, ability to be flexible, meet the needs of the dog, develop positive learning experience for the dog and communicate effectively. At no time will the dog be under test. The dog is not expected to be perfect, the assessor will only be looking at the trainer's competency as demonstrated by the behaviours.

The trainer will be expected to take responsibility for selecting the exercises or behaviours to suit the dog and the environment and prove to the Assessor the requirements of the criteria for that level.

Achieving Foundation and Novice level is quite sufficient for most dog owners. They will be able to train the basic behaviours required of society, with reliability in a range of situations. For those wishing to enter sports, train dogs for work or develop behaviour modification programs should follow the curriculum and be assessed at Intermediate and Advanced Levels.

Results of all assessments are kept on a central database at Learning About Dogs. To respect your privacy this is not accessible outside the Approved Assessors.

Successful trainers may use the initials: CAP1, CAP2, CAP3, CAP4 after their names to indicate certification.

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24 March 2013