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Pet buddies

An animal trainer is somebody who teaches dogs, horses or even marine animals to behave in a certain way using ­various techniques. He/she accustoms animals to human ­contact and teaches them how to respond to ­their ­commands.

education Updated: Aug 13, 2013 14:51 IST
Hindustan Times
animal trainer,veterinary clinics,pet shops
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The lowdown


An animal trainer is somebody who teaches dogs, horses or even marine animals to behave in a certain way using ­various techniques. He/she accustoms animals to human ­contact and teaches them how to respond to ­their ­commands. Training may be done for different ­purposes such as ­companionship, detection, protection and ­entertainment. Thus, the type of training an animal receives will vary ­depending on the ­method used and the purpose for ­training. For ­example, a seeing eye dog will be trained to achieve a ­different goal than a wild animal in a circus. An ­animal trainer should understand the physiology of the ­animal he is working with, keeping in mind the environmental factors that condition the animal’s behaviour. Animal trainers work in a variety of workplaces such as ­veterinary clinics, pet shops, zoos, ­stables, animal shelters, wildlife parks, reserves and research facilities. Some animal trainers work primarily in feature films, while others specialise in working with animals for commercials or print ads.

Clockwork
As an animal trainer, how many hours you work in a day would majorly depend on the number of clients you have. An average day would be something like this:
5am: Wake up 6am: Take dogs for a walk, this goes on till 9am: Time for their breakfast
12pm: Check and groom each one till 2pm
5pm: Training session that goes on till 7.30pm
8pm: Dinner time, take them out for a walk
11pm: Bed time

The ­payoff
A trainer could make anything between Rs. 20,000 (to start with) up to Rs. 1 lakh a month or even more as one gains more ­experience and expertise

Skills/TRAITS
* Love and passion for animals
* Patient and sympathetic towards animals
* An eye for detail when grooming or identifying minor injuries or changes in animal behaviour
* Teaching animals requires good problem-solving skills. Trainers must have good physical ­stamina that allows them to bend, lift and kneel.
* Self-control is important. One should be able to maintain ­composure, keep his/her ­emotions in check and avoid aggressive behaviour

Getting there
In India, there are no rules as to who can become an animal trainer or what education qualifications are required. While a college degree is not mandatory to enter this field, one should at least pass Class 12. In countries like the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, courses in animal ­science, animal behaviour, biology, zoology, marine biology, and ­psychology are available for ­aspiring animal trainers

Institutes and URLs
* University of Lincoln, UK; www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/course/eqsabwub
* Anglia Ruskin University, UK; www.anglia.ac.uk/ruskin/en/home/prospectus/ugft/c120.html
* University of Chester, UK;www.chester.ac.uk/undergraduate/animal-behaviour
* Macquarie University, Australia;animalbehaviour.mq.edu.au
* COAPE: The Centre of Applied Pet Ethology, UKwww.coape.org
* Colorado State University, US ansci.agsci.colostate.edu

Pros and cons
* It doesn’t pay well unless you are recognised in this field. So, you should only do it if you truly love ­animals
* You get to work closely with ­different kinds of animals and form close bonds with them

Everyday is a challenge because each animal is different. Also, you get to meet people from all walks of life. Passion and love for animals is the key to success --- Delano Henriques, dog trainer based in Mumbai

First Published: Aug 13, 2013 13:05 IST