As an almost entirely unregulated industry, dog training has no uniform standards that professionals must meet or adhere to. That means no licensing body, no official oversight, and as such, no accountability. Now on one hand, I believe it’s a serious drawback to the profession as a whole that anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves a dog trainer, regardless of skill or education. On the other hand, I've come to feel that it's been a great boon for me personally to be able to develop and adjust my own standards for what it means to have a “trained dog” as I acquire more information and experience.
If you talk to multiple trainers, you'll get multiple answers on what a properly trained dog actually is. An agility dog trainer has one set of standards while a show dog trainer has another. Police k9s must perform different functions than service dogs. Search and rescue dogs are trained to different standards than bomb detection or diabetic alert dogs. All of these dogs are amazing, and it takes great trainers to shape them into what they are.
I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted to do as a trainer coming out of school. Police k9, service, and search and rescue were all notions that I babbled about incessantly to my wife and anyone else who would listen. Though I still keep up on those areas of training in my personal quest for continuing education, I know now who I am as a trainer. I am a pet dog trainer. My standard is to ensure the health and happiness of dogs, and to foster healthy and clear communication between a dog and their human.
While training pet dogs may not require the strict standards that some of the other fields of training I mentioned before demand, it is to my mind the best standard for satisfying my primary impulse for leaping into this business in the first place-- to keep more dogs in safe and healthy homes, and out of shelters.