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Canine Behaviour and Training Instructor’s Diploma– Part-time Course Cape Town

This is the only course that Pet Sense College offers which includes classes and practical sessions. The courses consists of 8 modules and therefore offers the best value for money when comparing other similar courses.  This is the only practical course in South Africa which is internationally recognised and accredited.

Upon completion of this course, each student will be able to competently train a dog to a basic standard of obedience and run effective and professional classes.  This course is run over a three month period on Saturday afternoons. Students will be required to bring a dog to practical training sessions, either their own dog, or one that they can work with outside of practical sessions. If the student does not have a suitable dog, then one will be provided.  This college only supports the use of positive reinforcement.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will run live webinar lessons instead and meet at the venue for the practical lessons with the dogs.

This course is developed as a foundation course and includes an introduction to problem behaviours and aggression however it is not specialised on this subject.  Further study in the area of Canine Behaviour would be necessary in order to specialise.

The CBTI DIP requires the following criteria:

  • You have some practical experience with dogs.
  • You can commit to Saturday afternoon sessions over 3 months – see dates below.
  • You are able to attend classes in Nova Vista  Highschool, Loerie Avenue, Pinelands, Cape Town, 7405.
  • You have additional time to read the subject specific literature and prepare your assignments.
  • You have a dog to work with on practical assignments at home.
  • Your computer needs the following requirements: Windows 7-10 or Mac OS x, Internet connection – broadband or wireless(3g or 4g/LTE), speakers and microphone, webcam or built-in.

Course Modules

1. Ways of Explaining Canine Behaviour

  • The effects of biology on behaviour
  • Natures approach to behaviour
  • Nurtures approach to behaviour
  • How food affects behaviour
  • Associative learning
  • Do dogs think?
  • Canine intelligence
  • Various ways dogs communicate
  • Canine instincts
  • What is a behaviourist?


2. Understanding Canine Behaviour

  • Introduction to developmental psychology
  • The newborn puppy
  • Associative learning in the newborn puppy
  • Reflex actions
  • Initial development in the newborn puppy
  • The puppy’s vision
  • The puppy’s hearing
  • Lapping behaviour
  • Early experiences with semi-solid foods
  • The Nature/Nurture debate
  • The behaviour of the mother
  • Natural selection
  • Elimination behaviour in the newborn puppy
  • The behaviour of the father
  • The importance of play in the newborn puppy
  • Why puppies play
  • The play bow
  • The role of hormones
  • Social development
  • Canine senses
  • Artificial selection
  • What is an adult dog?
  • Sexual maturity
  • Physical maturity
  • Psychological maturity
  • The dog as a predator
  • Instincts
  • Types of aggressive behaviour
  • The dog as a social animal
  • The structure of a pack
  • Personality expression
  • Vocalisation
  • Posture
  • Scent marking
  • Burying food
  • The elderly dog


3. Body Language

  • What is meant by body language?
  • Personal space
  • Various types of body language
  • Faces and their expressions
  • What the mouth can convey
  • Staring
  • Yawning
  • Body postures
  • The confident dog
  • The shy dog
  • Distraction signals
  • The stress signal
  • Play
  • The play bow and play dance
  • The older dog and play
  • Tail language
  • Positions of the tail
  • Wagging


4. Canine Learning

  • Charles Darwin’s biological adaptations
  • The nature verses nurture debate of learning
  • Environmental influences on behaviour
  • Canine learning
  • The parental influences on learning
  • Critical and sensitive periods of the puppy’s development
  • Classical conditioning
  • Chaining
  • Instrumental or operant conditioning
  • Reward and punishment in learning
  • Reinforcers and punishment in learning
  • Primary and secondary reinforcers
  • Reinforcement schedules
  • Shaping behaviour
  • Sensitisation
  • Cultural transmission
  • The importance of play
  • Insight learning
  • Habituation


5. Dog Training

  • Why train dogs?
  • The senses and training
  • Schedules of reinforcement
  • Primary and secondary reinforcers revisited
  • Choice of primary reinforce
  • Benefits of using positive reinforcement
  • Putting the theory into practice
  • Basic training of house training, the recall, the sit, sit/stand, down, watch and progressing to heel with problems and solutions. Impulse control, prevention of aggression over food and toys, leash management. Leave-it, take-it, give-it.
  • Puppy socialisation
  • Running classes
  • The advantages and disadvantages of using Clicker Training
  • Summary of training principles
  • Trainer skills


6. Handling Aggression

  • Dealing with aggression
  • Learning theory
  • Operant conditioning
  • Positive and negative reinforcement
  • Positive and negative punishment
  • One trial learning
  • Generalisation with behaviour to different surroundings
  • Initial measures
  • When should training begin?
  • Desensitisation and Counter Conditioning Techniques
  • What is flooding
  • Aversive conditioning
  • Learned helplessness
  • Over learning
  • Holistic approaches to behaviour modification
  • Legal Issues and the Dangerous Dogs Act


7. Unusual Canine Behaviour

  • What is unusual canine behaviour
  • What is normal canine behaviour
  • Innate behaviour
  • How owners confuse their dogs
  • Unwanted barking behaviours
  • Territorial aggression
  • Fear aggression
  • Progressive desensitisation
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Canine anxiety
  • Feigning injuries
  • Chasing behaviour
  • Fouling indoors
  • Coprophagia


8. Avoiding Problem Behaviour

  • The thinking behind this module is to equip students with the ability to provide their dogs with the required social environment to avoid common problem behaviours developing. Prevention is always better than cure. 


Course Details:

  • 8 Module Course – intensive study over 3 months.
  • Students are assessed on assignment work which accounts for 70% of the marks. Practical assessments account for 30%
  • Course starts Saturday, 1 August 2020


– Class dates:
– August 1,8, 15 and 29
– September 5,12 and 19
– October 3,10 and 17

  • Venue: Nova Vista  Highschool, Loerie Avenue, Pinelands, Cape Town, 7405.
  • Time: Saturdays 2pm – 5pm



  • Course fee – R8400.00(VAT Exclusive) includes registration, certification and 8 modules. The modules will be handed to students on the 1st day of class.

Payment options: Upfront or paid off over two months. 

R1000 non-refundable deposit is required upfront to confirm your booking.  (Installment option – R4330 paid by  1 August 2020 and R4330 paid by 31 August 2020.)

Please note that all Covid-19 Prevention and Mitigation protocols will be strictly adhered to.

You will be required to sign a Covid-19 register and allow us to take your temperature.  You will be required to wear a mask at all times and to sanitize upon entering and exiting.  If you are showing any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19 you will not be allowed to join at that time. We will not be offering any refreshments, please bring your own.


For registration and further details email – Celia Forsyth on celia@petsensecollege.co.za


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