12 May 2021
Animal Behaviour student Holly Boardman has demonstrated the capability of Harper Adams students – by taking on a management position just two months into her placement year.
Holly, who is on the BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare (Clinical) programme, is spending her year in industry with dog walking and behavioural training company, Canine Capabilities.
At first, Holly, 21, conducted initial consultations with new clients and formed the clients’ training plans, as well as running general puppy training classes and, of course, the occasional dog walk. Her work inspired such confidence from her employer, that two months after starting she was promoted into a temporary manage role, to cover maternity leave.
Holly admits that she was “both excited and nervous to take on this management position.” But it was this experience that confirmed to Holly that this is the career she wants to pursue.
“What surprised me most was just how exhausting and mentally draining it is! I’ve been involved in all aspects of the business, including recruiting and training new staff and implementing new procedures.”
Working with dogs was once an unlikely career choice for Holly because, she explains, “as a small child I was terrified of dogs, so it is quite ironic that I’m now often working with dangerous dogs!”
Having cured her fear of dogs, Holly, from the age of 14, undertook paid and voluntary placements and found improving the welfare and the quality of life of difficult dogs “really satisfying”.
She routinely experienced such satisfaction on placement but cites one particular case as the most rewarding: “I worked with one particular dog who was aggressive towards people and other dogs. The situation became very serious, and the police had been involved.”
“After working alongside this dog and his owners, putting in place a behaviour modification course and working out the root causes of his behaviours, we made great progress in his confidence in a variety of settings.”
Holly’s experiences on placement combined with her own passion for dog training is going to shape her future at Harper Adams and beyond.
“For my dissertation I’d like to study the change in socialisation and behaviour patterns of dogs and puppies through the Covid-19 pandemic and when I graduate, I want to set up my own business and become a self-employed dog behaviourist”. Holly will be qualified to do this because through the Clincial degree route she will be able to qualify as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist accredited by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).
Holly, who is a Fourth Dan black belt in Taekwondo and represented Great Britain and Harper Adams at the EUSA 2019 championships in Croatia, said Harper was her first choice of University because she was “impressed with the facilities on offer and the experience of the senior lecturers”.
Going into her fourth and final year in September, Holly says her favourite part of her university experience has been “meeting lifelong friends” and advised all prospective and current students to “join a society within the Students’ Union, volunteer or join a sports club – it’s really important to get a balance.”
To unlock your canine capabilities, take a look at the animal courses we offer.