How to manage animal/guest behaviour during interaction

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!

Find out if you have what it takes to be a dolphin trainer

If you think you have it, then there are some things you should know.

Many of you have the passion, but you have been told, that you need to have a degree or any number of courses to become a dolphin trainer. If anybody told you that, don`t let it stop you!

In my opinion many persons even with degrees, who try very hard, are not successful. Sometimes the job is too hard, because they cannot deal with the high level of customer service skill that is required. They may not have the stamina or the charisma, which is so important for the job and worse of all, they cannot make a connection with the animals! Don’t get disheartened and do not give up so easily. I know it`s very hard to find all these characteristics in one person, but believe me, there are many people out there who come pretty close and don`t forget, if you are open minded, then you are trainable…ha-ha.

I will acknowledge a degree is commendable, we all know the importance of having a good educational background, but consider the following; what if you study for three or four years, only find out after you have invested so much effort, that this is not the job for you? Better to try out the type of career, with hands on experience.

I believe the best way to find out is, take a part time job, work experience, perhaps take a gap year before you start your studies and give it a try.  You will soon find out if it is for you or not. If this is really your passion, if you really want to be a dolphin trainer, you should be sure before you commit to it. Remember striving for what you enjoy and really want, usually results in achieving it faster.

If you are still in doubt or are not sure about what to do, just write to me and I can help advise you with tips or experience that can help guide you.