If you’ve ever dreamed of working with animals, take a look at today’s fantastic blog by local pet behaviour consultant and trainer, Rosie Bescoby BSc (Hons), PG Dip CABC who runs Pet Sense.
Rosie is a fully qualified Clinical Animal Behaviourist with a degree in Zoology & Psychology – from the University of Bristol – and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling.
At Pet Sense, Rosie provides behaviour consultations for dogs, cats and rabbits in and around Bristol and North Somerset, problem prevention consultations and puppy training sessions as well as educational talks and workshops. Over 20 veterinary practices in the area also refer to Rosie as their preferred behaviourist.
Here’s what she told us …
What motivated you to take the career path you chose?
Like so many people, I started with A-level subjects that I enjoyed, but with no plan as to where this might take me.
The same then applied for my joint undergraduate degree course at the University of Bristol. And it was the individual and more detailed units on the course that made my interests more specialised.
Initially, I started to look at a career in wild animal behaviour/conservation and went on a couple of research projects abroad – one studying marine turtles in Northern Cyprus and one studying Chacma Baboons in Namibia.
However, whilst away I decided that I didn’t want to spend my career travelling around so decided to look into other options, which is when I came across my post-graduate diploma.
I then started to gain more work experience that specifically related to companion animals – and once I started learning more about behaviour and the specifics of running my own business, I was sold!
What are the challenges in your industry?
There is no regulation – and this means that anyone can call themselves a trainer or behaviourist – and they do!
Unfortunately, this then has quite serious welfare implications for the animals involved. Scientifically outdated perceptions of dog ethology, for example, will lead to some people labelling dogs as “dominant” rather than looking at the emotions driving a behaviour which can result in harsh – or sometimes plain ridiculous – training methods to try to force the dog to submit
Other times, well-meaning newcomers to the industry attempt to relay correct information and force-free training methods but often just don’t have the full knowledge or experience which can also cause issues.
So, I have always been passionate about doing this career properly.
Personally, I see it as a similar career to a doctor or vet, where the training should be as intense and the experience should be sought whilst training.
I wouldn’t want to take my pet to a vet who wasn’t properly qualified – and dealing with behaviour is no different in my opinion.
What does your role involve?
When I first set up Pet Sense I offered training classes and 1-2-1 training but the behaviour side got so busy I decided to stop offering this service.
Now, my work consists of 4 or 5 initial consultations per week which are conducted at the owners home and involve me obtaining information about the animal and the problems the owners are experiencing.
I help the owners understand why their pet is exhibiting unwanted behaviour and devise a plan to help them change the emotional response.
The rest of my week consists of follow-up visits, which are practical training sessions, phone consultations for cats or rabbits, rescue centre work, talks, veterinary staff training, article writing, plus the other more boring parts of running a business!
What would you say to young people interested in working with animals?
I wouldn’t look at it as working with animals. Our job is actually working with people.
You need training in human psychology and counselling skills and naturally good people skills.
Look into the Animal Behaviour and Training Council which is the regulatory body for trainers and behaviourists.
Don’t take short-cuts and avoid “2 day courses to become a dog trainer” or online courses.
Expect your training to take a long time, gain as much experience as possible, and gain the theoretically knowledge required.
What is it like running your own business?
I love that my passion became my job, and I would always advise people to initially choose subjects that they actually enjoy – rather than those they don’t enjoy but that take you down a route you think you want to take.
However, sometimes when your passion is your job it can lose the magic, so it is also really important to take regular breaks throughout the year, learn to say no if you need to (you can’t help everybody), have a strong network of co-professionals and look at them as colleagues rather than competition!
It can be lonely working on your own (though there are also benefits to this) and the human counselling side of the job means it is really important to look after yourself.
And finally …
I hope the next generation of animal behaviourists and training instructors continue to push towards some sort of regulation in our industry to help the emotional welfare of our pets.
A huge thank you to Rosie at Pet Sense.
Rosie is a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (No. 1006), and registered as both a Clinical Animal Behaviourist & as an Animal Training Instructor with the Animal Behaviour & Training Council (the regulatory body that represents trainers & behaviourists to both the public & to legislative bodies). She is also a member of the Pet Professional Guild (an organisation representing individuals who train using force-free methods).
Details of the Pet Sense educational talks for schools and colleges are also on Careersnearhere – https://www.careersnearhere.com/inspiration/entry/10511/
Careersnearhere.com: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started.
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