Groomer and behaviourist Tracy Mcrindle examines the benefits of bringing behaviour into a salon’s professional development plan

With a busy client list to run, you may be wondering how on earth you could fit in more learning, but if you have a real interest in behaviour and are keen to take it to the next level then there are options to fit most busy schedules.

In an ideal world, those who want to delve right into behaviour would have the time and means to engage in full time study where practical training is included.

This is an option for those with minimal commitments or the ability to take a career break, and if that sounds like you, I would suggest looking at Bishop Burton college (http://www.bishopburton.ac.uk/), who offer an Animal Training and Behaviour degree.

This would definitely be the most expensive option however, and would still require you to find sufficient real world experience so let’s look at the other ways we can access education more conveniently.

Online study is one of the easiest ways to fit learning around work and family commitments with its flexibility in when and where you do your coursework.

The downside is that it leaves you to seek suitable ways to expand your practical skills, but a good course will certainly set you up with sound theoretical knowledge, which is the backbone of any career in behaviour.

It’s important to be cautious when looking for a course online as there’s a myriad of training providers and not all of them offer the same quality of learning. I can personally recommend Compass Education (http://www.compass-education.co.uk/) as I have studied with them myself. Compass offers a wide variety of courses, which allows you to test the water with an introductory level short course, and the pricing is very reasonable. A Google search will often turn up forums where others on the same course meet to discuss their assignments – a godsend for those who find home study to be a lonely experience.

The final piece of the jigsaw is to gain good practical experience to back up your theoretical learning. There are some behaviour seminars for groomers now taking place but the hands-on element doesn’t have to be purely grooming related.

Widen the net and knock on doors at the large rescue organisations to see if there are volunteering opportunities that would allow you to be mentored by their behaviour experts.

This is the time to cash in on your grooming experience and offer your services in exchange for learning time. It may take a bit of asking around to find a suitable placement but the more you get out there the easier it will be to make the right contacts.

You could also gain practical experience by booking yourself on a few courses run by a reputable provider like The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (http://www.imdt.uk.com/).

Whichever route you decide to take, be assured that all your efforts will benefit your career and be worth the hard work.

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