What Does an Animal Trainer Do? Your Expert Guide

animal trainer

Using their expertise, patience, and positive reinforcement, an animal trainer is vital in ensuring the emotional and physical health of a wide range of animals. These experts are essential in strengthening the link between people and all kinds of animals, from everyday household pets to rare and exotic species. In this in-depth article, learn more about what it takes to become an animal trainer and the skills you’ll need.

Animal Trainer Job Overview

The primary role of an animal trainer is to teach animals how to obey human commands, act in a certain way, and complete predetermined tasks. Many animals could be involved, from birds to dolphins to dogs and horses. Strong communication skills, knowledge about animal behaviour, and the capacity to build trust with the animals in their care are all essential qualifications for this position.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities of an Animal Trainer

  • Designing and Implementing Training Programs: Animal trainers create and execute training programs tailored to each animal’s individual needs and characteristics. They use positive reinforcement techniques to boost desired behaviours and discourage unwanted ones.
  • Observing and Assessing Animal Behaviour: Constant observation of an animal’s behaviour is critical to the trainer’s role. It allows them to identify signs of stress, discomfort, or health issues, ensuring the overall well-being of the animals they work with.
  • Providing Enrichment Activities: Trainers engage animals in various activities to stimulate their minds and keep them physically active. This may involve introducing new toys, puzzles, or exercises to prevent boredom and encourage mental stimulation.
  • Collaborating with Animal Owners: Effective communication with animal owners is essential. Animal trainers maintain training techniques at home, seamlessly integrating learned behaviours into the animal’s daily life.
  • Addressing Behavioural Issues: In cases where animals exhibit behavioural problems, trainers work to identify the root causes and develop strategies to address and rectify these issues. It may involve working closely with veterinarians and other animal behaviour professionals.

animal trainer

Animal Trainer Job Requirements

  • Education and Training: While formal education requirements may vary, a background in animal science, psychology, or a related field is advantageous. Practical experience, such as internships or apprenticeships, is highly valued in this profession.
  • Understanding Animal Behaviour: A deep understanding of animal behaviour and psychology is crucial for a good trainer. This knowledge enables them to develop effective training techniques and respond appropriately to behavioural cues.
  • Patience and Compassion: Dealing with animals requires immense patience and Compassion. Professional trainers must approach their work with empathy, understanding that each animal is unique and may require different approaches to Training.
  • Physical Fitness: Working with animals, especially larger ones, often demands physical strength and agility. Trainers should be capable of handling and controlling animals during training sessions.
  • Practical Communication Skills: Clear communication with both animals and their owners is vital. Animal trainers must be able to convey instructions and guidance effectively to ensure the successful implementation of training programs.


How Do I Become an Animal Trainer in the UK?

Becoming an animal trainer typically requires a blend of education, hands-on experience, and specialised training. While there is no singular path to becoming an animal trainer, you can start with courses in animal behaviour, biology, or animal psychology to gain a foundational understanding of animal cognition and learning processes.

Additionally, gaining practical experience through internships, volunteering, or entry-level positions at animal facilities such as zoos, aquariums, or training centres can provide invaluable insights and skill development. Certification from recognised organisations, such as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) or the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), can further enhance credibility and career prospects in the field.

How Much Do Animal Trainers Make?

The salary of animal trainers can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, employer, and specialisation. In the UK, entry-level animal trainers may earn around £16,000 to £20,000 per year, while experienced professionals working with high-profile clients or in specialised industries like film and television production can command significantly higher salaries, ranging from £25,000 to £40,000 or more annually.

Those employed by zoos, aquariums, or theme parks may receive additional benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. Freelance animal trainers often negotiate rates based on the specific services they provide, with potential for higher earnings depending on demand and reputation within the industry.


Beyond just teaching tricks, an animal trainer’s job description also includes creating a stimulating and supportive atmosphere where the animals can flourish. Someone can have a fulfilling career helping animals thrive as an animal trainer if they have the right mix of education, experience, and a true passion for animals.

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