Dog Psychology and Training

This course is for anyone working with dogs. This course will help you develop your understanding of canine psychology and how to apply it to dog handling.

Course CodeBAG221
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Truly understand dogs - Build a respectful and responsive relationship - Create wellbeing and health 
Psychology and behaviour is vitally important for anyone who works with dogs or keeps them as a companion animal.
Do you understand why your dog behaves the way it does?  You may already have some sound ideas or knowledge constructed from your own reading and research. If you study this robust 100 hour short course, you can solidify what you know, fill gaps in areas you don't know and gain a professional development qualification for doing so! 
Understanding how the domesticated dog has developed anatomically and physiologically helps us to understand behaviours commonly seen in today’s domesticated dog and therefore allows us to provide an environment in which the dog remains a happy and healthy companion.

Let's do the right thing by our dogs. 

Lesson Structure

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
    • Nature or Nuture
    • 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.


  • Describe how canine animals think and discuss the relevance of understanding canine psychology to people.
  • Explain how canine animals communicate and formulate an understanding of possible ways that a human may communicate with a dog.
  • Understand behaviours that are natural and predictable in canines and learn to recognise and understand signals that dogs give.
  • Explain how dogs develop behavioural characteristics throughout stages of their life.
  • Describe commonly occurring behavioural problems in dogs.
  • Develop a program for training a new pet dog when it is brought into a household. • Explain how to train a dog to perform predetermined actions upon command.
  • Describe how the movement of dogs can be controlled, both through training and other methods.
  • Describe how dogs can be trained to perform tasks required as a working dog, including a sheep dog, tracking dog, blind dog or substance detection dog.


Canine Industries


Dogs fill a variety of roles in our current human society. Working dogs can carry out a variety of jobs from herding sheep, helping the lives of disabled and blind people, to seeking out and detecting explosives and drugs.

In most countries around the world, the most common role of domesticated dogs is as a companion animal to humans. There are a wide variety of ancillary industries that rely on this companion animal market.

Some examples include:

  • Dog breeding enterprises
  • Dog grooming enterprises
  • Dog Training enterprises
  • Dog Boarding or Kennel enterprises
  • Dog Walking and Pet Sitting 
  • Pet shops sell a range of products and equipment
  • Canine Behaviour Therapists
  • Complimentary Medicines and Therapies

Walking on a Lead/Leash

Dogs need to be trained to walk on a lead. In some countries, it is not legal to have a dog without a lead or collar. In others, dogs can walk off the lead, but should behave sensibly and obey owners’ commands. It is imperative that they learn to walk on a lead appropriately. Dogs often do not like walking on a lead at first and training to walk with the lead attached to the collar takes time too.

Let’s think about, why would dogs be ok with being restrained? It goes against their natural instinct and the sensation of having something restricting around the neck is not particularly nice. When the dog associates the lead with having fun or going for a walk, then they tend to get more used to it and accept it. Many dogs dislike the lead as it prevents their flight instinct. When faced with a situation which frightens the dog, the dogs fight or flight response kicks in (like that in humans). This is an inherent survival mechanism for animals. In a situation where a dog becomes frightened by another dog, it will either want to fight or flight.

The lead restricts the action of flight linked to this natural instinct and therefore quite often we see behaviour changes when the dog is kept on the lead. Not all dogs react this way, however, we can’t deny the facts. A dog on a lead can appear generally more aggressive than any dog off-lead, as the lead has removed that natural ability to run therefore the ‘fight’ response is the only response they have.

Dogs need to learn that there are times they need to be walked or restrained by a lead and such situations are necessary. For example, if the dog is going to the veterinarians or just walking down a busy street or road, then the lead is essential.

Do you understand why your dog behaves the way it does?

Maybe you need to learn more! An understanding of canine psychology and behaviour is vitally important for anyone who works with dogs or keeps them as a companion animal. Understanding how the domesticated dog has developed anatomically and physiologically from its wild counterpart, the wolf, will helps us to understand behaviours commonly seen in today’s domesticated dog and therefore allows us to provide an environment in which the dog remains a happy and healthy companion.

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Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand
Tanya Miller Bsc

18 years working in animal science, veterinary care and agricultural education.
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