Joseph, Nicole - Animal Trainer

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[edit] Job Title [Nicole Joseph]

Animal Trainer

[edit] General Overview

Animal trainers are needed to teach animals and humans techniques to gain desired responses from animals in certain situations. This career requires people to work with animals to train them in areas of obedience, disability aides, competitive competitions, security and entertainment shows [1] .Trainers can work with animals of all shapes and sizes and these animals can be domesticated wild or exotic. Animal trainers have been needed since animals have been domesticated; they teach animals basic skills, such as stopping them from urinating on furniture to more needed benefits, such as protection or sighted guides for people with disabilities.

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

Animal Trainers are responsible for creating programs that allow for teaching and maintaining desired behaviours in animals. They do this by creating cues or signals for the animals to learn, and provide additional care for specific breeds of animals. They also need to be aware of any conditions the animal may be suffering from that would prevent learning, as well as needing to know the optimal conditions for learning skills and teaching behaviours. Animal trainers need to work well with animals as well as with people. They need to be able to clearly articulate information to owners. It is their responsibility to observe the animals’ behaviour and identify changes that need to be made and how to make those changes. They need to also be able to give accurate advice to the animal's owners and may need the skill of patience; teaching or changing behaviours requires repetition and continuous interaction[1].

[edit] Typical Workday

An average work day for a trainer can start with the following steps but it is important to note that repeat clients may not need to be assessed then reassessed, they could continue from any previous step they accomplished and return to that step if their training technique did not work. To start, a trainer must speak to the client about what behaviours they want their animal to learn or to change then they must meet and become familiar to the animal and assess them. This means they look at their background and physical situation for any additional information as well as if training can be done in a healthy, safe way. The trainer then must take time to study their behaviour and create a plan or program to change that behaviour. They will share that information with the client and from there they will either continue to train the animal or will supervise the client training their animal. Changing behaviour could take as little as a day or months to complete. A typical full time work day for trainers working within companies is usually an average 8 hour between 9am-9pm, Individuals who are applying to these positions should be aware that they are not always between 9am-5pm and may take longer depending on how difficult a client is to train.

[edit] Educational requirements and other qualifications

There are no specific certifications or education needed to be an animal trainer. However, a skilled trainer should have background knowledge in behaviour and learning. They should know classical and operant conditioning, reinforcement, punishment, habituation, sensitization, blocking, motivation, and emotional responses for both animals and humans. They should also know the animal’s specific needs and characteristics, this could involve learning differences in breeds, body language, social signs, fixed action patterns, mating patterns, development, genetics and influences the environment has on their behaviour[2] . There are some schools dedicated to animal training but it is not a requirement for any job placements. A typical job posting requires an individual to have 1-2 years work experience but it’s not always necessary for that experience to be with animals. Pet Smart and Sea World trains their groomers and trainers but prefers to find individuals who already have some experience in the area they are applying for. Here are a couple resources if you are looking to become educated in how to train animals (it is not required):

[edit] Related skills, interests, and abilities

Animal trainers need excellent communication skills and a great deal of patience. They need to be able to work as a team or by themselves and have to be able to handle working with difficult or stubborn animals[3] . They need to show initiative and problem solving in high stress situations. It may require the trainer to be physically fit, many positions involve outdoor activities or physically demanding training programs[3] [4] .Animal trainers need to be able to handle any response that comes from the animal they are training; this could include vomiting and unwarranted waste excretions. Lastly, trainers need to be able to handle difficult human and animal clients and their human clients may refuse to listen or may hinder the training of their animals.

[edit] Relevance of Psychology Undergraduate degree

Animal training requires understanding and interpreting animal and human behaviour. A psychology Undergraduate degree would provide the necessary background information in making this a successful career. This degree teaches you the basics of conditioning and conditioning strategies, motivation, differences in learning and understanding. It teaches you the basics in how to motivate and handle individuals and can teach you how to counsel others. It can teach you differences in personality, interests, ability and performance. It can also teach you the basics in disorders and research methods. Lastly, this degree teaches techniques in leadership and planning. All of these skills are used often in animal training. Brock University offers many courses on learning, perception, brain and behaviour, abnormal behaviour, understanding data, statistics, etc. Animal trainers may need to look up data on different breeds and this career helps them decide which data is appropriate and reliable and their psychology knowledge could show them how to use that knowledge[1].

[edit] Salary potential

Wages vary depending on location and skill of the trainer. The average salary for domesticated animal training could be anywhere between 25,000 dollars- 40,000 dollars annually[1][5] [6]. per full time position. The average salary is in the 30,000 dollar range for a skilled, successful trainer. A successful trainer requires having impressive, accurate references and demonstrates skilled training for a variety of animals. The part time positions usually involve more animal care than animal training so the salary is roughly 10,000 dollars annually[4]. The salary depends largely on the skill of the trainer and the animal they are training[7] . Exotic animal trainers in the United States have a slightly higher salary of between 30,000- 54,000 dollars[8] .

[edit] Job outlook

The number of animals being used for services and the number of pet owners have increased over the last few years; because of this more animal trainers are needed for both basic training and service training. This number is likely to continue to grow because of the continually growing population. With the population increasing more people will be adopting and caring for more pets and that will require additional pet needs[6].

[edit] To know more provides a detailed summary report of what skills are needed to have a successful career as an animal trainer.

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 O*NET (2015), Summary Report for: 39-2011.00- Animal trainers. Retrieved from
  2. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (2015), So you want to be a Dog Trainer, Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 Career National Career Service, Assistance dog trainer (2015), Retrieved from
  4. 4.0 4.1 Government of Canada (2015), Job Posting: Dog Handler (Dog Handler/Cleaner part time), Retrieved from
  5. Government of Canada (2015), Job Posting: Animal Care Worker (Except Farm) (Zookeeper/Animal Trainer), Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 Government of Canada (2015), Pet Groomers and Animal Care Workers, Retrieved from
  7. Inside Jobs (2015), Lion Trainer, Retrieved from
  8. Candace Whiting, Want to be a Whale Trainer? What your life is worth, Part two (2015), Seattlepi, Retrieved from
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