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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Do you love dogs? Learn about caring for dogs

  • Our animal specialist course developers have designed a fantastic practical program to take you through all general aspects of dog care.
  • Learn the science of dog care - the anatomy, physiology, nutrition and health care of these wonderful creatures.
  • Consider practical strategies for breeding. Recognise breeds and their characteristics and apply relevant practical training tips to work with those breeds effectively.

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Learn to understand and care for dogs

A course for:

  • Dog Owners.
  • People who work with dogs.
  • Anyone wanting to work in the canine industry.

Dogs are evolved from wolves and share some similar characteristics with wolves. No matter how cute you think a dog is, and how much you feel you connect with it, it does not have the same brain patterns as a human. It does not think like you!

  • Learn how dogs behave and how to understand their behaviour.


There are 9 lessons in this course, as outlined below:

Lesson 1. Introduction to Dog Care

  • What dogs need.
  • Food.
  • Water.
  • Physical and psychological environment.
  • Exercise.
  • Hygiene.
  • Importance of routine.
  • Potential problems and owner error.
  • Uncertainty of pack position.
  • Neglect.
  • Escape.
  • Attacking other people and animals.
  • Physical damage.
  • Illness.
  • Which breed is best.
  • Choosing a puppy or adult dog.
  • Outside living or inside pet.
  • Restricting and confining a pet.
  • Dealing with holidays.
  • Training dogs.
  • Socialising with other animals.
  • Scope of Dog care industry.

Lesson 2. Canine Biology

  • Anatomy.
  • Mouth.
  • Teeth.
  • Ears.
  • Eyes.
  • Skeletal system.
  • Digestive system.
  • Normal physiological values.
  • Circulation.
  • Respiratory rates.
  • Thermoregulation.

Lesson 3. Dog Health Part 1 Nutrition

  • Introduction to nutrition and feeding.
  • Nutritional components.
  • Carbohydrates.
  • Proteins and fats.
  • Minerals.
  • Vitamins.
  • Water.
  • Changing requirements through different life stages.
  • Growth period.
  • Working and high performance period.
  • Pregnancy and lactation period.
  • Geriatric period.
  • Feeding patterns - time controlled or free choice.
  • Feed products.
  • Commercial foods.
  • Medicinal/veterinary foods.
  • Home cooked foods.
  • Snacks and treats.
  • Foods to avoid.
  • Common nutritional disorders.
  • Allergies.
  • Poisoning.
  • Preventative health.
  • Diet supplements.
  • Immunisation.
  • Worms, tick and flea prevention.
  • Exercise.
  • Dental care.
  • Skin and nail care.

Lesson 4. Dog Health Part 2 Illnesses and Treatments

  • Introduction.
  • Haemobartonellosis.
  • Babesiosis.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease.
  • Aortic Stenosis.
  • Heart failure
  • Heart murmurs and arrhythmias.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Heartworm.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Giardia.
  • Intestinal worms.
  • Enteritis.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
  • Diabetes Mellitus.
  • Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism).
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Postpartum Hypocalcaemia (Eclampsia).
  • Conjunctivitis.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Cataracts.
  • Ear mites.
  • Deafness.
  • Anaphylactic Shock.
  • Lupus.
  • Hip Dysplasia.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Canine Degenerative Myelopathy (CDM).
  • Canine Distemper.
  • Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough).
  • Asthma.
  • Mange.
  • Ringworm.

Lesson 5. Dog Breeds

  • Gun dogs, Hounds, Pastoral, Terriers, Toy, Utility, Working.
  • English Setter.
  • Irish Setter.
  • German Pointer.
  • Golden Retriever.
  • Labrador Retriever.
  • Cocker Spaniel.
  • Hungarian Vizsla.
  • Beagle.
  • Dachshund.
  • Greyhound.
  • Irish Wolfhound.
  • Bassett Hound.
  • Australian Cattle Dog.
  • Border Collie.
  • German Shepherd.
  • Old English Sheep Dog.
  • Corgi.
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
  • West Highland Terrier.
  • Parson (Jack) Russell Terrier.
  • Australian Terrier.
  • Scottish Terrier.
  • Chihuahua.
  • Bichon Frisé.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
  • Pomeranian.
  • Dalmatian.
  • Poodle.
  • Schnauzer.
  • Shih Tzu.
  • Alaskan Malumute.
  • Great Dane.
  • Mastiff.
  • Newfoundland.
  • St Bernard.

Lesson 6. Breeding

  • Introduction.
  • Female reproductive system.
  • Male reproductive system.
  • Sexual behaviour.
  • Mating interaction.
  • The management of reproduction.
  • Desexing/neutering/spaying/castrating.
  • Pregnancy and birth.
  • Parturition (labour).
  • Suckling.
  • Weaning.
  • Factors influencing puppy size.
  • Puppy development.
  • The breeding industry.
  • ‘Back-yard’ breeders & breeding for fun.
  • Illegal commercial puppy breeding enterprises (puppy mills).
  • Breeding for profit.
  • Legislation and licensing.

Lesson 7. Dog Behaviour and Training

  • Understanding dog behaviour.
  • The importance of training.
  • Practical training techniques.
  • Technique for recall.
  • Technique for sit (in front).
  • Technique for sit (at the side).
  • Technique for stand (beside).
  • Technique for stand (beside).
  • Technique for leave.
  • Technique for down/lay.
  • Technique for stay (beside).
  • Technique for heeling.
  • Behaviour problems present opportunities for business.
  • Attributes of successful dog trainers.
  • Practical for business start-up.

Lesson 8. Grooming

  • The importance of grooming.
  • Grooming tools and equipment.
  • What to groom, why and how.
  • Skin.
  • Bathing.
  • Coat (hair).
  • Brushing.
  • Claws (nails).
  • Teeth.
  • Teeth brushing.
  • Ears.
  • Professional grooming.
  • Long haired dog breeds.
  • Short hair breeds.
  • Other breeds.
  • Styles and clips.

Lesson 9. Other Dog Services

  • Health and related services.
  • Training and related services.
  • Day care and long term stay services.
  • Assistance dog services.
  • Professional dog handling.
  • Retail related services.


Behaviour Problems Present Opportunities for Business

Some dogs exhibit behavioural problems at some point in their lives. You should know that an unwanted behaviour is often a symptom of an underlying problem and the unwanted behaviour that is displayed is the dog’s way of coping with the problem. It is important to remember that the behaviour may be unwanted for us but may be completely natural for the dog. Therefore, when thinking about the behaviours of dogs you should have an understanding of natural dog behaviour and dog’s instincts. The natural behaviour of dog shouldn't be ignored but can be controlled.

As a rule, all dogs that display a behavioural problem should first be checked by a vet to make sure that there are no physical ailments that may be causing or exacerbating the behaviour.

Setting up your own dog training or dog behavioural business can be all that you dream it can be but it takes a lot of hard work setting up a successful business. It also takes thorough knowledge of dogs and your own professionalism.

Some of the benefits of starting your own dog training consultancy business include:

  • An opportunity work with the knowledge you have accumulated from study and/or industry experience.
  • An ability to enjoy the freedom and independence of doing something you’re passionate about.
  • The possibility of achieving high financial reward.
  • The flexibility to take on cases or assignments that are stimulating and rewarding, and conversely the option of refusing to do something you don't enjoy.
  • The chance to meet new people in other companies and industries.
  • The satisfaction of working with the best resources you can find.


The digestive system is basically a long tube extending from the mouth to the anus. Its function is to take in food, grind it, digest it, absorb the nutrients and eliminate the solid waste products that result from the process. Digestion reduces the nutrients in food to compounds which are simple enough to be absorbed and used by the animal for energy and the building of tissues. Dogs have a similar gastrointestinal tract to humans, which is comprised of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestine and large intestine.

The mouth does not play as large a role in masticating food as it does in humans as dogs tend to swallow their food almost immediately after it has entered the mouth. The food is passed from the mouth via the oesophagus to the stomach. The oesophagus is a thick, muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. It passes through the diaphragm (the partition between the chest and the abdomen). The tube is lined with mucous membrane and the walls are made up of involuntary muscle.

Once a ball or bolus of food has been forced into the oesophagus from the mouth by the process of swallowing it is automatically pushed down the tube by an action known as peristalsis. This process is also found in other organs of the digestive tract.

The inside of the stomach is lined by a membrane of specialised cells. This lining consists of many folds, which increase the surface area that is in contact with the food inside the stomach. In addition, the stomach lining contains many gastric glands (small pits). These glands secrete substances that help in the process of food digestion. These include enzymes are which help to dissolve proteins.

The food passes out of the stomach into the small intestine. This is a long, muscular tube leading from the stomach to the large intestine. The small intestine is divided into three parts. The stomach leads into the duodenum, which leads to the jejunum and the last part is called the ileum. Food enters the small intestine through the sphincter in the stomach and is pushed along by peristalsis.

The pancreas release enzymes into the small intestine to further digest carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The lining of the small intestine contains many glands which produce mucous. The glands also produce enzymes that are required for the further digestion of food that has passed from the stomach. In addition, the lining contains many small stalk-like projections called villi. Digested carbohydrates and proteins pass into the bloodstream while digested fats pass through the villi into the lymphatic system. The large intestine then absorbs some water from the remainder of the food and moves waste (faeces) to the anus.

An important organ that is linked to the digestive system is the liver. The liver is a large, irregularly shaped organ which is made up of lobes. The liver lies below the stomach and next to the duodenum in the same proximity as the pancreas. It is the organ that functions include detoxification, glycogen storage, and plasma protein synthesis. The liver produces liquid called bile. This collects in the hepatic ducts, which are channels running through the liver tissue leading into an organ called the gall bladder.

Bile is collected into and released from the gall bladder through the cystic duct. The cystic duct leads into the common bile duct which empties into the duodenum near the pancreatic duct.

The structural anatomy of dogs is very different to humans, however the component tissues and many of the physiological processes are the similar to human biological science so if you have studied any human biology before some of the terms and processes we discuss may be familiar to you. 



Vomiting is not a disease or disorder in itself; it is a clinical sign of some type of digestive disturbance or as a result of another disease or disorder. Occasional bouts of vomiting can be considered normal but if the vomiting persists and is accompanied by severe or bloody diarrhoea, lethargy, weakness, depression, pain or fever then this is a sign that something is seriously wrong and veterinary attention is required.  Vomiting can be caused by something the dog has eaten (e.g. rotten food), ingestion of toxins, adverse reactions to drugs or an allergic reaction to something in the environment.

Vomiting can cause dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, muscle weakness, tremors, inflammation of the oesophagus, aspiration pneumonia and severe malnutrition. Treatment includes identification and removal or treatment of the initial cause of the vomiting. Fluid and electrolyte therapy may also be required in serious cases.


Diarrhoea is similar to vomiting in that it is a clinical sign rather than a disease itself. Diarrhoea can be a sign of a mild digestive upset or of something more serious e.g. food poisoning or ingestion of other toxic materials. Acute and chronic diarrhoea can be life threatening, particularly in puppies or older dogs. If the diarrhoea lasts longer than a couple of hours, contains blood and the dog appears to be in pain and has a fever then veterinary attention is required immediately. Treatment in this case will include identification and appropriate treatment for the underlying condition causing the diarrhoea as well as fluid and electrolyte therapy. Mild cases can be treated at home by removing food for a period of 12 hours and then re-introducing small amounts of bland food (e.g. chicken and rice). Probiotics can also be a useful addition to improve the overall health of the affected dog’s intestines.


Giardia intestinalis and Giardia duodenalis are single celled protozoan parasites, which inhabit the affected dog’s small intestine, causing clinical signs of Gardiasis. The protozoa attach themselves to the intestines and multiply. They may be directly swept through the intestines and appear in the infected dog’s faeces or they may develop into a tougher more durable ‘cyst’ form, which is again passed in dog faeces but is able to survive for long periods in the external environment. Dogs are infected by ingesting the cysts from contaminated water and the environment. Infected dogs may not show any clinical signs of Gardiasis, but they can still shed the protozoa from their systems, spreading the infection to other healthy animals.   Infection and subsequent illness is more commonly seen in younger animals. Signs of infection include: chronic or intermittent diarrhoea that may appear ‘fatty’ and slimy, accompanied by a very foul smell. Weight loss is also possible if left untreated. The condition is treated with anthelmintic drugs. A vaccine against infection is available in the USA, but it is generally not thought to be particularly effective.

Intestinal Worms

Dogs frequently suffer from infestations of intestinal parasites – commonly known as worms. The most common types are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Each different type of worm has its own specific lifecycle and can damage a dog’s health in different ways. Clinical signs of an excessive worm burden include: diarrhoea, vomiting, poor coat condition, weight loss and general lethargy. Some types of worms can remain in a dogs system and no outward signs of infestation will be apparent. Intestinal worms can be treated with anthelmintics (de-worming medication). Regular use of appropriate anthelmintics every 3 months is recommended.


  • Do you want to understand more about how to care for dogs?
  • Do you want to know more about dogs and work with dogs?

This course provides a rich source of learning about dogs and can help your care better for your own dogs, or give you a foundation of knowledge for working with dogs.

You can enrol today, or if you have any questions and want to know more, get in touch with our specialist Pet Care tutors.

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.

Check out our eBooks

Animal PsychologyExplore how animals think and comare how this differs between different animals (and humans)
Working with AnimalsIf you enjoy interacting with animals, are interested in biological science, or are passionate about wildlife, pets or farming; you may thrive in the type of jobs outlined in this book. Get to know more about the industries and the occupations that you could do. The Working with Animals ebook is a comprehensive catalogue to inspire you in your career in working with animals!
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.
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.