Need Assistance? 01384 442752 (UK)


Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Learn about Dog Behaviour

What motivates dogs to behave the way they do?

This course will enable you to understand more about what motivates dogs and why they behave the way that they do.

This course is a valuable foundation in dog psychology.


It's easy to enrol...

Select a payment plan:  

Select a learning method  

Learn to understand about the motivations for dog behaviours
  • Learn more about how a dog uses its senses - how they communicate; their senses - sight, smell, sound.

  • Understand dog behaviours.

  • Learn about obedience training.

  • Course duration: 100 hours of self paced study.  Start at any time to suit you and study at your own pace.
This course is a valuable foundation for anyone working with dogs, from breeders and groomers, to kennel attendants, veterinary assistants and dog walkers.
Dog owners who are frustrated by difficult to control animals can learn much from this course.
Anyone seeking to work as a dog trainer; will find this is a great starting point for such a career path.
There are 9 lessons in this course:
1. Nature and Scope of Canine Psychology
  • A brief history of the canine evolution.
  • Self-domestication.
  • Canine industries.
2. Canine Senses
  • Understanding canine communication.
  • Sight.
  • Body language.
  • Smell.
  • Sound.
  • Elimination postures.
3. Understanding Natural Canine Behaviour
  • Social structure.
  • Social behaviour.
  • Aggression.
  • Clinical problems.
  • Biological rhythms.
  • Sleep.
  • Sexual behaviour.
  • Maternal behaviour.
  • Parturition.
  • Suckling and weaning.
  • Eating and drinking.
4. Canine Behavioural Development
  • Nurture.
  • Sensitive periods.
  • Neurological development.
  • Canine temperament testing.
  • How breeds differ.
5. Canine Behavioural Disorders
  • Attention seeking behaviour.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Chewing.
  • Running away.
  • Chasing moving objects.
  • Begging.
  • Digging.
  • Separation anxiety.
  • Aggression.
  • Phobias.
  • Excessive compulsive disorders.
  • Cognitive dysfunction.
  • Calming a dog.
6. Basic Dog Training
  • Forming habits.
  • Conditioning.
  • Classical conditioning.
  • Operant conditioning.
  • Socialisation.
  • House training.
  • The use of visual signals.
  • The use of voice commands.
  • The use of training aids.
7. Dog Obedience Training
  • Practical training techniques.
  • Recall.
  • Sit.
  • Stand.
  • Drop.
  • Leave.
  • Down.
  • Stay.
  • Heel.
  • Seek.
  • Retrieve.
  • Bark on signal.
8. Controlling a Dogs Movement
  • Territorial nature of dogs.
  • Fencing.
  • Dog doors.
  • Kennels.
  • Exercise requirements.
  • Socialisation requirements.
  • Walking on a lead/leash.
  • Electronic barriers.
  • Microchips.
  • Pet registration and licensing.
  • Controlling killing wildlife.
9. Training Working Dogs
  • Training for scent discrimination or substance detection.
  • Training for retrieving.
  • Guarding.
  • Hearing dogs.
  • Herding.
  • Tracking.
  • Controlling attacks on animals and people.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Sample Course Notes - Recognise Dogs are Driven by Animal Instincts

The basic unit of canine social structure is a pack. In the wild, packs generally consist of between 8 and 15 individuals. The pack will contain a number of related adult males, related adult females (not related to the males) as well as a number of their offspring. 

A dominance hierarchy is present within the pack; the dominant members will control the activities of the pack with the rest of the members ‘following’ the dominant members. There will be a dominant male and a dominant female who the other pack members are subservient to. The top male and female are known as the ‘alpha’ members of the pack. The ‘second in command’ are known as the beta members and all subsequent animals are known as omega members. The alpha members will eat and drink first, have the most comfortable sleeping areas and also be the first to mate when the time is right. They are also responsible for warning and defending the pack from dangers within their environment. 

Social Behaviours
Pack members usually interact in a way that maintains their social order. Most behaviours aim to maintain or improve the dog’s social status within the family group. When the alpha dog dies, or is physically unable to carry out his role due to illness or injury, there is competition among the other family members to take on the alpha position. If a new pack member arrives there will also be some competition and re-organisation of the social status within the pack.

The alpha dog will communicate his dominance to other dogs in the pack by physical displays including making direct eye contact, physically standing over and placing a paw on other family members, circling and sniffing the other dogs and urine marking specific areas in the territory as well as ‘overmarking’ other dog’s scents.

Showing submission to the alpha dog is another important part of communication within the pack. The other members of the pack will demonstrate their submission to the alpha dog by lying on their backs and exposing their sensitive abdomen to the alpha dog or simply by lowering their head in front of the alpha dog. The alpha dog will then usually respond with signs of friendliness and acceptance of the subservient pack member.

Aggression is a common natural behaviour displayed by all dogs, although some breeds may have more of a predisposition to outwardly display this behaviour more frequently. Aggressive behaviours in dogs may have stemmed from their wild ancestors who needed to fend off predators and compete with other animals for food and mates. Aggression in domesticated dogs does not normally become an acutely ingrained behaviour until the dog is over a year old.  Before this, signs of aggression may only appear when the dog is placed in a particular circumstance e.g. showing aggression to other dogs only when restricted on a lead or when the dog is involved in play behaviour that escalates into aggression.

Factors that may induce aggressive behaviour:-

  • breed predisposition e.g. Pitt Bull Terriers and Japanese Fighting dogs 
  • a traumatic experience associated with other dogs e.g. being attacked 
  • lack of proper exposure to other dogs during the critical socialization period 
  • lack of essential resources in the living environment e.g. food, water and shelter 
  • disease or ill-health

Whilst aggression can be a natural behaviour for a dog in some situations, it can also be inappropriate. 

Who is this course suitable for?

This course is suitable for -

  • dog owners
  • dog trainers
  • people wanting to train as dog trainers or work in dog obedience
  • pet shop workers
  • dog rescue workers
  • dog breeders
  • dog walkers
  • dog groomers

Really, anyone lives or works with dogs and wants to understand more about how dogs think and behave.

Why Study This Course?

If you would like to -

  • understand dog behaviour and the way in which they think
  • learn techniques to train dogs
  • understand negative behaviour in dogs and how to deal with it
  • gain a detailed and indepth knowledge of dog psychology

Then this is the course for you!

You can enrol at any time.

The course is self-paced.

If you have any questions at all, our dog psychology tutors are more than happy to answer questions about the course -

Please click here to contact a tutor


Request a course handbook here.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.