What Does An Animal Trainer Do?
Animal trainers are professionals who train animals to perform different tasks. Whether they are teaching the animals to become obedient house pets, perform for an audience, do security inspections or assist people with disabilities, the gist of the work of animal trainers is in getting the animals comfortable and familiar with human contact and voices so that they will be able to follow commands.
Animal trainers are commonly seen working with dogs. They may also train other terrestrial animals like horses and tigers as well as marine animals like dolphins and whales. Through various methods and techniques, they are able to hone the protective instincts of dogs so that they can guard children and their families and guide the blind and other persons with disabilities so they are able to live as independently as possible.
They may also be trained to do police work, so that they can smell drugs, bombs and other illegal items and as tracking dogs that aid in rescuing and tracking people. In zoos, circuses and theme parks, animal trainers don’t only train animals to provide entertainment, they also keep these animals healthy by making them follow commands when a veterinarian performs their routine checkups on them.
When an animal is first brought in to be trained, the first task that a trainer does is to evaluate the animal to determine its disposition, skills and aptitudes. This preliminary evaluation will enable the trainer to decide on the approach to be used and the kind of training that the animal needs. After the animal’s behavior and needs have been assessed, the trainer then starts the session. They use their voice and gestures to interact with animals so that they get comfortable around people.
Certain types of training require different kinds of strategies. The trainer may employ clickers, food rewards and treadmill workouts. They use various methods to train dogs to respond to emergencies. When working with guide dogs who can lead the blind, for example, the aim of training is to enable them to lead a person from one point to another, stop when the elevation changes and avoid obstacles. Trainers working with police dogs, on the other hand, use strategies that will allow the dog to find a suspect using its sense of smell, detect explosives and protect its handlers.
Positive reinforcement is a tactic that animal trainers use in their interaction with the animals they are working with. By using praises and treats when the animal performs a task correctly, the dog, dolphin or other animal is more inclined to repeat it until it becomes a part of his behavior. This is considered as an animal trainer’s most effective tools for directing behavior and one that trainers use in good measure. There are still some trainers who employ what are termed as “corrective” training methods but the trend is now going towards the positive reinforcement approach.
Trainers who work in theme parks train the animals to perform in public. In these cases, they don’t normally use voice but hand gestures, whistles, rubdowns and food. Some trainers also work with animals like lions and bears and train them using their own methods. But in the presence of such dangerous animals, there is no guarantee that they remain safe or that they can indeed train these animals to obey every command. In zoos, lions are tamed so they can be fed with less risk to the caretakers.
While an animal is under the trainer’s care, animal trainers also take care of providing the exercise, care and mental stimulation they need to be healthy. They also see to it that the animal gets the adequate nutrition his or her body needs.
Animal trainers need to be able to handle animals firmly but gently at the same time. They also need to have the uncanny knack for reading animal behavior and body language. They also need to be physically fit since the job will entail running or swimming with the animals. They also need to have patience since not all animals are able to catch commands right away.
They also need to love working in the outdoors since training animals isn’t done inside the laboratory. They must also be able to work well with other people since they will be handing over the canines and other animals they have trained to their handlers and owners. It’s important for them to be able to explain the things that their animals can and cannot do and how they should be handled once they are turned over to them.