That's exactly it. The person can say "I'm a certified dog trainer" and it automatically gives them credibility to someone who doesn't know better and doesn't know how to check those credentials. And even if they do, when they look at that website and see "300 hours of experience" it looks like a LOT.
From the PetSmart website:http://training.petsmart.com/accredited ... tors.shtml
PetSmart Accredited Pet Training Instructors
Expertise makes all the difference between getting an okay and an exceptional education. That’s why our PetSmart Accredited Pet Training Instructors complete a rigorous education in problem solving, canine ethology, genetics, behavior and learning theory, with a curriculum developed by both leading trainers and animal behaviorists. By combining these two disciplines, you’re able to first understand why your pet behaves a certain way, and then how you can take that information and teach your pet consistent, healthy behaviors using a combination of verbal cues, hand signals and positive reinforcement.
But I can't find anything about the actual process, though other areas of the site talk about not training using "pain and fear" so, of course, to Joe Pet Owner, it sounds like PetSmart is the best place to go because who wants to hurt and scare their dog?
The problem with credentials and dog training is that there is not a governing body, and it would be very very difficult to create one. Who would oversee it? There are so many different methods of training and different philosophies of what constitutes "good" and "bad" training, let alone what is ethical. One woman in the training club I'm in would ban everything but clickers and treats from the building if she had her way, another instructor puts prongs on 16 week old puppies in her beginner classes. There is no right or wrong answer, so how would anyone ever actually get certified? One trainers "abuse" is another trainers "normal training."
You really can't even go by the titles that a dog has earned because people have others train their dogs, have others handle their dogs, send their dogs out to be trained and titled, buy dogs with titles, etc. Someone with a dog with the alphabet after its name might have not have done one single thing with that dog - but still pass themselves off as a trainer, yet someone who does not have a single title on any dog ever may have trained other people's dogs to dozens of titles.
Really, the only way to know if a trainer is any good is to go and watch them with dogs they have trained or they are currently working with - and not necessarily dogs that they own.