Do you have the people skills to work with animals?

People skills

Image © Igor Mojzes / Fotolia

So you want to work with animals? Lots of people do. It's a pleasant job, most people like animals and get a great boost from watching, seeing or interacting with them, and their often playful and funny antics.

But veterinary roles are hard work and demand a lot of commitment to both the training and the ongoing workload. People love their animals and will do much to help them before giving up, so you need to keep learning and developing too.

One often unforeseen aspect of working in a veterinary practice is the different people skills you need to manage and liaise with pet owners and the owners of working animals – these are two different beasts.

A pet owner is perhaps only marginally informed about care and needs, while the working farmer, zoo keeper or other animal professional will be well informed about the necessary care and condition of their animals – they will require a more professional and direct approach than an upset and worried pet owner.

Show you care

Can you talk to people? Empathise with their worry about their pet and the costs?

There are vets that are less than empathic with the feelings of the owners when it comes to the crunch. Owners want to help but are not always able to do what's required, financially or practically.

They will also want to see you care for their pet; for instance, if you don't stroke and calm their dog who is feeling terrorised, an owner might not “take to you” and will look elsewhere in future – you need to show you care.

Which type of owner?

It takes flexibility and adaptability to work with pet owners – professional and emotional care combined. If that's for you, go for it, and if not, you can develop these skills as you train and practise or try to work primarily with owners of working animals.

Farmers, horse trainers and other animal professionals generally want action fast and understand their animal's needs.

Yes, they want to see that you care for their animal, but they also know more about what veterinary medicine and care involve, so they will be more understanding of the demands placed on you.

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