Interview with Kathy Reidy from Petucation
Kathy Reidy is dedicated to passing on her love and knowledge of animals to others, through training adult students, pet owners and even business entrepreneurs. Kathy has an extensive list of qualifications against her name and has over 25 years of experience in the animal industry, including running boarding kennels, working in the retail pet industry, operating a goat dairy and running dog training classes.
Kathy now operates ‘Petucation’ to fulfil her true passion, which is training. Petucation provides advice for pet owners, animal training classes, as well as small business support for people who are interested in the industry.
If that’s not enough, Kathy also teaches students at Richmond TAFE College in Animal Science, has developed seminars on ‘Starting your own Pet Industry Business’ and writes articles for industry publications, including for the Australian Companion Animal Council, where she is a board member.
We were lucky enough to be able to pull Kathy away from her very busy training schedule, to ask her a few questions about what it’s like working within the industry...
“Volunteering is a great way to prove that you are serious about working in this field.”
1. You should mentor under a qualified trainer, as you will gain valuable experience, knowledge and the skills to become a great trainer.
2. You should study hard and gain good qualifications, as it is important to have current industry best practice to obtain a job as an animal trainer.
3. Also, volunteer at a facility that trains animals, as it may turn into a paid position and volunteering is a great way to prove that you are serious about working in this field.
My father is a second generation farmer and my mother a second generation dog exhibitor, trainer and breeder and so I was around animals from a very young age. I also helped out on the family hobby farm and worked part-time in a Boarding Kennel whilst at school.
I later went on to gain qualifications in book-keeping and administration and worked as an Administration HR Manager in the Retail Pet Industry for 15 years. Opportunities for paid work in the industry have definitely increased over the last 15 years and so I have been lucky to combine my hobby with a career path that I can earn a living from.
In 2010, I decided to start my own small business, running training classes and giving pet selection and care advice. Three years ago, I then partnered with Australia’s largest dog training company, Farmer Dave Dog Centre. I now manage the centre which has 10 trainers running classes, as well as a pool of volunteers who assist with day care, canine sports and rehabilitation/retraining of rescue dogs.
When I was getting into the industry, the only qualification you could study was Veterinary Science at University. There are now a whole host of training courses you can take and I have been lucky enough to join them. In 2004, a brand new training package became available in Australia for Companion Animal Services. I decided to do the Certificate IV. This course helped me to realise that even with my lifetime of owning animals, there was still so much to learn. I discovered the science behind animal behaviour and have been applying what I learnt ever since.
I had a couple of wonderful teachers who saw something in me as an educator and I was lucky enough to be offered a job in 2006, teaching the same qualification, two weeks after I graduated! This has definitely helped my career path evolve, from a hobbyist animal worker, to a trainer of both people and animals.
One of the best ways to manipulate our animals to behave the way we, as a society, need them to behave, is through positive reinforcement. The latest research shows that the use of aversives in dog training actually causes aggression in dogs.
I continue to attend short courses, industry conferences, seminars, hands-on workshops and networking events with other professionals.
Training dogs is the easy part, after all, we bred them to work for us. In pet dog training, the other end of the lead is the most difficult. The main area that owners need assistance in is helping them to understand that what you reinforce is what you will get.