On a recent chat with a trainer, she was expressing her concern and difficulties when dealing with guest interacting with our animals. This is very common in our profession, just need to be patient and find the best way of dealing with it and making sure everyone is happy during this activity.
It is lovely to see when trainer have a genuine concern and really care for their animal!
Trainers main concern:
People touching the animal blowhole and eyes on animal guests-animal interactions.
Many times, this scenario can turn into an awkward situation, but never forget you are the one in control of your session or program…if you are having difficulties with the way the guests are petting your animal, even after you have given your instructions and you see it done incorrectly by touching the animal’s eyes and blowhole, you must call your animal to your platform. Explain again to the guests the correct way of doing it…then you send your animal one more time… mostly people listen and respond positive at this stage…if the guest continue petting in an incorrect way…you call your animal again…then you need to take measurement to protect your animal…be patient, do not take it personal, sometimes people are very excited, this is a big event for them, some people have waited their whole life for this kind of activity and they just can’t control themselves…remember how you felt the first time you touched a dolphin!
How to handle this situation
Some trainers would get distressed and worry and they tend to make the petting time shorter and as a result the guest end up missing out on the magic of this lovely experience…what I would do is in this case, if I have an assistant in the water I ask for help. If not, in a very friendly manner with the guest I would help them by bringing the animal and the guest closer to my platform, where I can closely observe and direct that particular petting session…making sure the animal’s blow hole is away from the guest’s reach. This way the animal is comfortable, the guest is relaxed and petting the animal and everyone is a winner!