Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals

Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals
Dog Blogger

Naughty dog? No worries! Because Trainer Nic is here to help!

Nicola Anderson will help your dog behave, eat right and integrate, when you think there is no hope for your unruly pooch. In fact, this highly regarded trainer has worked with canines for over 20 years and written many articles for various pet magazines regarding dog training and canine behaviour problems.

She has trained under Australia's own 'Dog Whisperer’ (where she won ’Rookie of the Year’) as well as studying with various other esteemed veterinary behaviourists. She has won multiple industry awards and speaks at many forums about dog behaviour to help veterinary nurses and other staff understand their clients’ needs with their dogs.

The Dog Blog is her little corner of the digital world dedicated to helping dog owners and dog lovers care, train, help and enjoy their pets.

Nicola spoke to Open Colleges about the challenges and rewards of small business, training humans and preparing for a day on the job - all in between pooch appointments.

Dogs in the Park
1 Nic, it sounds like you are in high demand! Tell us in a few short sentences about a typical day in the life of a dog trainer?

Well, you have your training bag packed and put on your gear, which includes well covered shoes and clothes you don't mind getting dirty. In your bag, you are armed with your equipment, treats and anything else you think you will need, including business cards. Then you are off, visiting each client one after the other, either at their house or at the park, depending on what type of lesson they are having. Organising days ahead is important, as you must remember what lesson you are up to for each client!

2 You are seen as one of the foremost Australian experts on dog behaviour. What did you study and how has your career path evolved?

I actually didn't do any formal study until I had been in the industry for years! I eventually did a degree in Animal Science (majoring in Animal Behaviour), but found I gained most of my knowledge simply from experience and working with the animals over the years. For instance, I learnt so much from a veterinary behaviourist I know, as well as from a franchise I purchased. The owner of it had a lot of experience working with dogs and training them for over 30 years.

Dogs in the Park
3 A lot of people think they have a magic touch with animals. What advice would you offer students looking to get into the industry?

A formal qualification of some kind in Animal Care definitely wouldn't hurt. Then get out there and work with animals - volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! I did years of this and it gave me invaluable experience with handling, understanding, nurturing and treating all types of animals.

Dogs in the Park
4 You’ve been in the game for a long time now. What’s the most important thing you have learnt in all your years as a dog trainer?

Honestly, I’ve learnt you can't have it all at once. You have to work really hard and it can be a very challenging time starting your own business. You have to have patience with all the owners out there - as it takes a lot of work to train them, not the dogs…

Dogs in the Park
5 Sounds like you have been through a lot to come to the place you are today. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

My biggest initial challenge, without a doubt, was finances. Starting your own business takes a lot of hard work, commitment and long, long hours. At the same time, the monetary reward is very little. I needed to supplement my income initially to pay the bills, as there was no guarantee of any returns in dog training. I changed my mindset and cut down my debts - this made me freer to take the good paying weeks with the not so good ones!

Dogs in the Park
Are you interested in getting into the animal care industry? Read more real life stories from a range of industry professionals here.