Animal Trainer jobs(Also known as Pet trainer, Animal behaviourist, Animal whisperer)
An animal trainer is responsible for psychological (and to some extent, physiological) conditioning of animals. The animal is typically a horse, cat, dog or service animal, and is kept for show purposes, disability assistance, or as a pet. An animal trainer is a person who is employed by the animal’s owner to apply a series of mental conditioning techniques and behavioural improvement methods to train the animal effectively. The reasons are numerous: the animal may be aggressive, nervous, confused or territorial, it may be that the animal has a strong sense of balance but is lacking in discipline or requires “toilet training" or sometimes, the animal may even be taught routines for the purposes of showing (itself the result of “discipline recurrence” training). The animal trainer will typically have to spend a great deal of time with owners, as often it is the owner’s behaviour that requires adjustment. The trainer may also be involved with developing training aids and products to benefit animal owners, or they may be asked to contribute advice columns or advertorials for magazines and TV shows.
SalaryThe possible salary range is very large, as the role can span from part-time instruction all the way up to the manager of a successful behavioural centre, with several staff being direct employees of the company. Those candidates who start unskilled and join established training centres as assistants can expect to receive only minimum wage. In the UK, this is currently £5.93 per hour for workers aged 21 and over, £4.92 for those in the 18-20 age category, and £3.64 for young workers aged between 16-17. Salaries for established, well-known behaviour specialists grow exponentially, and can be augmented with seminar speaking, product development and magazine article publishing.
- Fix a timescale which fits round the animal, their owners and the problems
- Isolate symptoms. For example, aggression may be the result of fear, or a territorial, reactive, maternal, frustrated or depressed state of mind
- Ascertain what type of dog is being dealt with, and how best to deal with it. Is it pushy, sensitive, dominant, mentally immature, stubborn or bold?
- 75% of time is allocated to working with owners, rather than the animals
- Administer effective training through technique and communication
QualificationsAt present, there are no academic requirements to prevent anyone calling themselves an animal trainer or behaviourist. However, the PAACT (The Professional Association of Applied Canine Trainers) in conjunction with the CAWC (The Companion Animal Welfare Council) have been holding regular meetings in an attempt to tighten up the laws specific to dog training. Other areas of animal conditioning remain open and prone to unregulated individuals calling themselves experts. It is recommended that all practising trainers join a professional body to demonstrate their level of accredited professionalism within a given area of training.
- Have an empathy towards the greater cause of animals
- A magnetism for the animal species in question can be beneficial, though it is not essential
- Must be a people person, as most of the work is with owners, not the animal
- Must be able to learn from one’s own mistakes and alter teaching methods to suit
- Consistency of approach is vital, as animals become conditioned to better behaviour by use of “classical conditioning” techniques (e.g. repetition)
- In-depth knowledge of the behavioural tendencies for the animal/species being trained