top of page

Diploma Course Content

The chapters included in our Diploma in Canine Behaviour, available here.



The evolution of the dog from furthest ancestry. The wolf-dog theory. The village dogs theory. Research into juvenile traits. The wolf pack. The dog pack. Reversion to instinct. Leadership. Case history: Lulu. It’s a dog’s life.


Canine Character And Personality

Assessing basic character. Introverts. Extroverts. Imprinting and conditioning. Classic (respondent) conditioning. Operant (instrumental) conditioning. Case history: Jess and Jo. The dog’s past conditioning. Getting to know a new dog and his background. Coping with new stimuli. Matching the dog and the owner. When the match is all wrong. The characteristics of different dog breeds. The dog’s role. Redirection. The importance of socialisation. Encouraging socialising. What to look for in dog classes.


The Physical Needs Of The Dog

The dog’s essential needs. Shelter and comfort; healthy eating, food allergies, protein, raw food, dried food, wet food, home cooking, foods to avoid. Deterring parasites. Health insurance. A special relationship. Dogs as genetic life-savers. The work of geneticist Elinor Karlsson and her team.


The Emotional Needs Of The Dog

The chemistry of bonding. The scientific proof that loving interaction between a person and their dog releases bursts of the nurturing chemical oxytocin in both. Meeting a dog’s emotional needs. The research of Japanese biologists Miho Nagasawa and Takefumi Kikusui. Emotional barometers. How dogs read our emotions. The research into left gaze bias by Professor Daniel Mills, Dr Kun Guo, Dr Kerstin Meints and their team at the University of Lincoln. The dog’s emotional needs. The signs of a happy, unhappy, uncomfortable, and frustrated dog. Meeting a dog’s emotional and mental needs. The importance of play.



The story of Betsy. Cognition. The research of Dr Juliane Kaminsky. The research of Professor Brian Hare. Social partners: an ideal partnership. How even puppies from the age of 6 weeks are hard-wired to communicate with humans. A two-way street: how dogs read and imitate us. Rogue intelligence; the manifestations of a bored dog. The importance of mental stimulation. Case history: Skye.


The Language Of The Dog

The signals dogs use. A two-way street. Body talk; interpreting body language. Confident, nervous, anxious, frightened, excited, happy, angry, aggressive, relaxed, depressed, concerned. Vocalising. The research of Dr Ádám Miklósi. Subtle signals: staring, averting the eyes, low body posture, upright body posture, urine marking, scent marking. Do dogs wear perfume? Reading the subtle cues. Using your body language to communicate.


Calm Guidance

Starting from the moment you meet a dog, how to give clear, compassionate signals that you can be trusted to be in charge. How to promote acceptance and respect: calm guidance means positive stewardship. Boundaries, not punishment. Rewards, redirection and discipline. Case history: Sally. Calming signals. The basics of good dog guardianship: rewards, redirection, positive association, dealing with an issue. How we unconsciously condition dogs, positively and negatively. Switching to conscious conditioning.


The 'D' Word

Until recently it was thought that dogs needed to be dominated, as otherwise they would try to dominate us. Do dogs really display dominant behaviour towards humans? The pitfalls of aggressively dominating a dog: creating fear and aggression instead of trust. Case history: the story of Gyp. The rules of guardianship. Human leadership: the cloak of confidence. Why dogs disobey. How to persuade a dog to want to follow your wishes.


What Is Normal?

Why dogs jump up, roll on their backs, bark, bite, play-fight, chew, sniff rear ends, throw toys in the air, pull on the lead, bark at the postman, chase, eat grass. Although much of the dog behavior we witness is normal, there are also a number of abnormal issues which can be seen and interpreted early enough to be diagnosed and counteracted: how to spot these and encourage dogs to overcome challenging or undesirable habits or traits.


Confident Dog, Sensitive Dog

There is a great deal of difference between much-confused dominance, confidence and rank, which is easily read through the signals your dog displays. Why some dogs are more confident than others. The top dog. The underdog. Passive submission. Active submission. Personality. What happens when a dog’s status changes? Defusing tension between dogs. Case history: Four dogs. Teaching the dog to relax and trust. Caring firmness and consistency as vital traits to be developed in dog owners.


Stages Of Life

Puppyhood; toilet training; nipping; bothering other dogs. Puberty; unruly behaviour; neutering and spaying. Hormones: testosterone; oestrogen; progesterone. Behaviour changes due to the mating urge. Pregnancy and birth; postpartum. Life stages: the neonatal period; the juvenile period; the adolescent period; maturity; old age. Supporting elderly dogs.


Emotional Issues

Do dogs experience a similar emotional life to people? Addressing emotional issues. The main emotional problems which can affect dogs, with signs and guidelines for each: Fear; food aggression; fear-aggression; dog to dog fear-aggression; dog to human aggression; anger; nervousness and anxiety; depression; grief; case histories for grief; jealousy; hyperactivity; hyperkinesis; obsessiveness; case history; excessive attachment. Is the emotional or physical environment causing emotional issues? Terms used in behaviour modification.


Medication And Complementary Therapies

The dog’s need for reassurance and compassion. A whole entity rather than a collection of symptoms. A brief look at the medication groups and some of the complementary therapies which can be helpful in tandem with behaviour work. Drug groups. Complementary therapies.


Rescue Dogs

Rescue dogs. Life in kennels. A new home. Developing trust. Step by careful step – how to ease the settling in process. Health issues. The dog’s perspective. Adoption. The differences between adoption, giving a permanent home, fostering, and sponsor fostering.



Contributing factors to ageing. Living with an elderly dog. Maintaining health; exercise; diet; health conditions; Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. The hardest decision. Letting go; what you can do. An end, a new beginning.


Dog Law

The important laws to be aware of concerning dogs and their breeders and owners. A description of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1871. Breed Specific Legislation.


Your Thesis 

The two options you can choose from for your final thesis.

bottom of page