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How to become an animal trainer in Australia: careers in animal training

Animal trainers teach animals new behaviours to assist, protect or perform for their owners. They can specialise in obedience training, performance coaching, behavioural conditioning or security. Animal trainers have a range of employment options available to them, from working with household pets, service animals and show animals through to wildlife in zoos and marine parks. Some animal trainers specialise in a specific animal such as dogs or horses.
Pathways

Being an animal trainer: daily duties

The daily duties of an animal trainer will vary depending on the types of animals they work with and the environment they work in. In general, animal trainers work with animals and their owners to develop or correct specific behavioural characteristics of animals. They can be involved in the general care, feeding and wellbeing of animals In their care in certain contexts such as zoos. They may teach obedience, discourage unwanted or antisocial behaviours, prepare animals for competitions and build trust.

Tasks:

  • Correcting undesirable behaviours
  • Developing animals’ skills
  • Training for performances or service duties
  • Communicating with pet owners
  • Providing nutritional requirements of animals
Skills

Being an animal trainer: skills for success

Animal trainers need to interpret the needs, behaviours and moods of animals and respond to them as appropriate. They need to have an affinity with animals and a genuine love of them, as well as patience and a calm but forceful demeanour. Good planning skills are also necessary, as animal trainers need to plan tasks, routines and modes of training and tailor them to suit individual animals. These roles can be very physical, so a good degree of fitness and a willingness to work in a physical role are essential.
Skills/attributes
  • Calm, patient and forceful demeanour
  • Excellent planning skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Patience
  • Genuine love of animals
Specs

Specialised roles within animal training

There are a number of different career paths available for animal trainers to explore, tailored to suit their strengths, interests and desired working environments. From technical training of service animals like guide dogs, to helping families better control their pets, the employment options are varied.
  • Horse trainer
    Working exclusively with horses, horse trainers are experts in the dietary requirements, training methods and grooming necessary to have happy horses performing at their peak. Horse trainers are most commonly employed in the racing industry, improving the speed and stamina of horses in their charge. Others work in dressage or stunt training roles, or performance training.
  • Animal wranglers for film sets
    Animal wranglers for film sets possess both an understanding of the film industry’s health and safety requirements as well as the temperament and abilities of the animals they work with.
  • Guard dog trainer
    Guard dog trainers are experts in training dog breeds that are used for security purposes such as Dobermans and German Shepherds. They use their skills and knowledge to channel the dogs’ natural strengths, loyalty and aggression to allow them to provide protection for families, individuals and property.
Pathways

Educational pathways for animal trainers

There are a variety of ways to get started in animal training, from cadetships, diplomas and on-the-job training.
  • Start your career
    An entry level course can help you break into the industry and point you in the right direction.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Reach your goals by choosing a course relevant to the particular form of animal training you want to specialise in.
  • Build your resume
    Get noticed in the industry by deciding on an educational pathway.
  • Industry requirements
    An industry-recognised qualification will demonstrate your skills and commitment to potential clients and employers.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your animal training career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    Animal training job prospects are tipped to remain steady over the next decade.

Resources for Animal trainer

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