Animal Trainers

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Also known as:
Animal Trainer, Dog Handler, Dog Trainer, Dolphin Trainer, Guide Dog Instructor, Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, Guide Dog Trainer, Horse Breaker, Licensed Guide Dog Instructor, Lion Trainer

Video transcript

People love animals, and animals are even more lovable when they're well-trained. Professional animal trainers teach animals new behaviors, whether it's a complicated routine at a live animal show, a search and rescue operation, or simply training a puppy not to jump up onto visitors.

Animals such as dogs, birds, and monkeys have been trained to assist individuals who are deaf, blind, or mobility-impaired. Many types of animals can be conditioned to live and work with people, but dogs are by far the most common.

Trainers use a variety of techniques. The simplest is rewarding the correct action with food or praise. The type of animal and the purpose of the training dictate the working conditions. But every trainer must possess incredible patience and be able to maintain their composure when animals misbehave.

A love of animals may direct you to this field, but you need to love every aspect of their care and upkeep as well. Animal handling can be physically strenuous, especially with large animals. Some vocational schools and colleges offer coursework and degree programs, but apprenticeships to more experienced trainers are usually required too.

The pay is generally low - many trainers also find work at kennels, stables, and grooming services to make more money. The more exotic jobs, such as those in live animal shows, movie or T.V., zoos, and research facilities, tend to be difficult to find. Some of these, such as marine mammal trainer, may require a bachelor's degree and additional skills such as swimming and scuba diving.

Good communication skills - with owners and their furry or feathered friends - is a necessary asset to building a reputation and a career in managing animal behaviors.

Train animals for riding, harness, security, performance, or obedience, or for assisting persons with disabilities. Accustom animals to human voice and contact, and condition animals to respond to commands. Train animals according to prescribed standards for show or competition. May train animals to carry pack loads or work as part of pack team.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Advise animal owners regarding the purchase of specific animals.

Evaluate animals for trainability and ability to perform.

Evaluate animals to determine their temperaments, abilities, or aptitude for training.

Keep records documenting animal health, diet, or behavior.

Administer prescribed medications to animals.

Conduct training programs to develop or maintain desired animal behaviors for competition, entertainment, obedience, security, riding, or related purposes.

Talk to or interact with animals to familiarize them to human voices or contact.

Feed or exercise animals or provide other general care, such as cleaning or maintaining holding or performance areas.

Observe animals' physical conditions to detect illness or unhealthy conditions requiring medical care.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Training and Teaching Others Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Sales and Marketing Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Personnel and Human Resources Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
Instructing Teaching others how to do something.
Learning Strategies Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.