Need Assistance? 01384 442752 (UK)


Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate

Study animal behaviour and welfare by distance learning with this unique course.

  • Learn about how animals behave the way they do and understand why.
  • Study animal psychology in dogs, cats, and horses.
  • Learn about handling animals and how to train them.
  • Learn about animal communication and social behaviour.
  • Elective options enable you to study more about animal health, or use the course as a starting point for starting your own business.

There are six 100 hour modules making up the course, which consist of five core modules - Animal Welfare, Animal Behaviour, Dog Psychology, Cat Psychology, Equine Behaviour.

Followed by one elective module chosen from -Pet Care, Natural Animal Health Care, Animal Health Care, Starting a Small Business


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN ANIMAL WELFARE AND PSYCHOLOGY
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 1 of the following 4 modules.

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Gain a detailed insight into animal psychology and welfare.

  • Understand abnormal behaviour and what the causes of this may be.
  • The course includes specific modules relating to dogs, cats, and horses - learn how to respond to animals, how to look after them.
  • Elective modules provide options for you to learn more about caring for the health of animals, with the Natural Animal Health Care module looking at holistic treatments and the promotion of good health through good nutrition.

Suitable for

This course is a good starting point for those looking for careers in areas such as:

  • Employment in animal protection and rescue services, including roles such as - rescue officers, office staff, animal rehabilitators.
  • Working in pet shops as assistants or carers.
  • Veterinary assistants.
  • Starting your own business in animal services, such as grooming, or training. 


Course Duration: 600 hours.

Start Date: Start at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.

Content: Study five Core Modules and then choose one Elective Module - all modules are shown below, please follow the links in the module titles for more detailed information and lesson listings.

What is Animal Welfare?

Animal welfare is a branch of animal ethics that covers the interactions and relationships between humans and animals and the duty of care that humans must treat them in a manner that cares for their wellbeing. Animal welfare originated more than 10,000 years ago, when humans began to domesticate animals for agriculture purposes. The original intent was to consider the wellbeing of animals to better achieve their own goals. This simple act was the beginning of creating mutually beneficial relationships between humans and animals where humans treat the animals well, and in return, the animals assist humans. This fundamental ethic of animal welfare still exists today and is warmly known as the 'human-animal bond'.

Animal welfare advocates pledge that humans can provide animals with a good moral status by protecting them, providing them with decent care and contemplating their interests, without the necessary provision of animal rights. Animal welfare adopts the policy that, morally, it is acceptable for humans to utilise animals, based on the provisions that animals do not suffer, or that their suffering is minimised; and that there is no other way of reaching the end goal other than to use animals. The focus of animal welfare is on the suffering of animals, so its purpose is to minimise the suffering animals undergo.

Throughout time we have seen major transitions in land use with massive decreases in agriculture, combined with increased urbanisation and technological advancement.  This has led humans to place animals in unnatural environments and utilise them in ways that they are still able to fulfil their productivity, yet their wellbeing has been jeopardised. Examples of this include factory farming, domestic animal breeding, surplice zoo animals, animal trading etc. 

Globally, human attitude towards animal welfare, and the corresponding treatment animals receive, is notably variable depending on the scenario the animal is being utilised for and the human standard of worth placed on its use. For example, the value put on the life of a pet dog is undoubtedly higher than the value put on the life of a pig being farmed for pork to make an income.  

The main factors influencing human attitudes towards the welfare of animals are:

  • Preconceived attitudes towards animals.
  • The moral values and level of empathy placed on them.
  • Knowledge and experience of types of animals.
  • Knowledge on the procedures and practices involved in the use of animals.
  • The relationship between the type of animal and humans.

Why study with ACS?

ACS is a distance learning school, established in 1979, and completely independent. Our courses have been written and developed by us, and are taught by highly knowledgeable and experienced academics.

Our courses embrace experiential learning - you do not just learn from our course notes, our courses include set tasks and practical elements which enable you to learn from practical experience.

Our courses can be studied online or by eLearning which means you determine when and where you study. But, just because you are studying by distance learning, you will be fully supported in your studies - ACS and its specialist tutors are here to support and guide you through your studies.

What next?

You can enrol on an ACS course at any time. 

If you have any questions or want to know more, please get in touch with our specialist Pet Care tutors. They will be happy to help you.

You can contact us by phone on (UK) 01384 442752 or (outside UK) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

submit a form with your questions on using our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING.

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.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
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.

Check out our eBooks

Animal HealthUnderstand animal health issues, diseases and how identify and manage illnesses and injuries. Animals can become sick for many different reasons -diseases caused by infections, injuries, poisoning, genetic disorders, poor nutrition and other things.
Animal PsychologyExplore how animals think and comare how this differs between different animals (and humans)
Caring for DogsA book for both students and dog owners. This book has been designed to complement our dog care and pet care courses; but also to provide a sound foundation for choosing the right breed, and caring for a dog whether as a pet, or a working animal. Contents cover Breeds, Creating a healthy home for dogs, legal issues, dog biology, recognising poor health, parasites, illnesses, nutrition, reproduction, dog psychology, behavioural development, training tips, behaviour problems, grooming, working in the dog industry, and more.
Cat Care This ebook is a comprehensive guide to caring for and understanding our feline friends. The association between humans and cats—dates back about 5000 years — although this is not long in the history of human life. The exact origin of cat domestication is often debated by historians. It is known that Egyptian populations held cats in high esteem. In fact, cats were an object of worship. Some figures of cats exist in gold and bronze and numerous paintings depict the importance of cats in Egyptian life. The Romans later recognised the useful nature of cats for pest control in grain stores or in military bases for example. It is thought the distribution of cats throughout Europe can be attributed the Roman Empire’s original use of cats. Cats as pets now outdo their canine equivalents today across the globe, and it is estimated there may be around 90 million cats as pets living in homes in the USA. Cats may be considered a better choice of pet than dogs for people living busier lives or who live in relatively confined spaces (e.g. flats or townhouses), as they require less exercise than dogs, and tend to their own needs and are generally more independent. The explosion of pet cats over the recent decades has led to the emergence of many cat care industries. There are specialists across veterinary health, rehoming and adoption facilities, pet boarding properties, grooming, breeding and reproductive health and the behaviour and training industry. If you are going to keep a pet cat, you need to be prepared to provide for its basic needs as an absolute minimum: food, water, shelter, stimulation (mental and physical) and appropriate health care. Additionally, it is responsible to control cats within reason, reducing any impact upon neighbouring property or wildlife. This is called containment.