What is an Animal Trainer?

Also known as: Service Animal Trainer, Show Animal Trainer, Obedience Trainer, Animal Obedience Trainer.

An animal trainer is someone who will get an animal accustomed to human contact in order for it to behave in a certain way and to respond to specific commands. Training may be for protection, detection, companionship or entertainment. An animal trainer may work with service animals, family pets or show animals.

What does an Animal Trainer do?

An animal trainer can work in several areas of training, as well as work with a variety of animals. Each type of animal training serves a different purpose. Here are a few examples:

Service Animal Trainer

Guide dog trainers train dogs to assist people with disabilities, who need extra assistance with poor eyesight, or who are blind. Some dogs are trained to help people in emergency situations, for example an epileptic seizure. They may also be trained to fetch medication, alert a caretaker, or activate an emergency call system by pushing a button. Other dogs work with law enforcement to help detect people or drugs. They may also be trained to attack and protect when necessary.

Show Animal Trainer

Show trainers work with animals that perform in front of an audience of some sort. A horse trainer may be needed for horse shows or for racing. There is also animal training for the more adventurous type. For example, some people work in zoos or aquariums and train exotic animals. These trainers teach the animals tricks, care for them, and put on shows for zoo audiences. 

Obedience Trainer

One of the more common animal training techniques is in obedience. Often dog owners will bring their pets in to a dog trainer to have them learn how to behave, listen to commands, walk on a leash, and to get them house-broken. These types of trainers will also educate owners on how to work with their pets after the classes are over.

Animal trainers work one-on-one with animals and typically give them rewards when they do something correctly. The animal learns that when they behave a certain way, they will receive positive reinforcement and a treat, so are more likely to obey a command.

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What is the workplace of an Animal Trainer like?

An animal trainer might work in a zoo, aquarium, circus, research facility, or a movie set. Animal trainers need to be very patient and know how to communicate and relate with the animals they work with. Animal trainers that work with marine animals need to be physically fit and be good swimmers, as well as be trained in scuba diving.



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Further Reading

  • Animal Trainer Interview myfootpath.com

    Ken Ramirez has worked at the Shedd Aquarium for the past 20 years and has been an animal trainer for almost 35 years. His excitement for training animals has never faded.

  • Animal Trainer: Career Information careerplanning.about.com

    Animals have minds of their own. They behave however they want ... that is until they meet up with animal trainers.

  • What Are the Different Animal Trainer Jobs? www.wisegeek.com

    Among the many jobs working with animals, animal training can be one of the most difficult, yet enjoyable, jobs available.

  • "A Day in the Life" of a Marine Mammal Trainer www.marinelandcanada.com

    The average day for a marine mammal trainer is usually very eventful, full of many different tasks and challenges.

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