MENOMINEE — Meghan Smith of Menominee’s Mighty Pet has just received certification as a professional dog trainer. The dog training program isn’t something new to Mighty Pet, however Smith said that the program is expanding.

“Our mission as a whole is to improve the lives of people and animals in our community, and so Mighty Pet tries to do that through training, lodging and the Day Camp,” she said.

Smith has had an interest in training animals throughout her life. “My mom jokes that my first words were animal sounds,” Smith said, “I’ve trained animals my whole life. I’ve shown horses and raced horses. My husband and I started training dogs to find antlers and wounded deer, and through that we developed a relationship with another trainer, Jeremy Moore. He’s done a lot of work with Mighty Pet, and he encouraged me to step it up from just a hobby to a profession.”

The training program that Smith went through was founded by Dr. Ian Dunbar, well-known dog trainer and veterinarian. She said that one thing he noticed while developing his dog training is that the dog training industry is unregulated, “so anyone can wake up one day and decide that they’re going to be a dog trainer, for better or worse,” Smith said.

She said that he also noticed that, due to the unregulated nature of the dog training industry, there’s not really a standard for certification programs — some are great, some are awful, and the average person might not have an easy time telling the difference at first glance.

In addition, Smith noted that in some programs, a person may pay a substantial amount of money and only ever train two or three dogs through the program. She said, “It’s kind of like a teacher graduating as a teacher having only taught two students.” Because of this, Smith said that Dunbar set up his certification program to add some standardization to the dog training industry. “You’re committed to a code of ethics and continuing education to standardize the process.”

Smith had to log 300 hours of training time, a statement signed by another certified trainer through the program or a local veterinarian and pass a standardized written test compiled by national experts in the field in order to earn her certification.

So far Smith has trained at least 50 dogs for specific clients, “but the number is probably in the hundreds with all of the Day Camp dogs,” she said.