Animal behaviour and training

Qualification Number: 600/7109/6

Qualification Title: Certa Level 4 Diploma In The Principles of Companion Animal Behaviour and Training; DipCABT (RQF Level 4)



Year 1: The Principles of Companion Animal Behaviour and Training


A part-residential course in the science and practice of companion animal behaviour therapy for all animal professionals.


Certa RQF-Listed Regulated Qualification

Level 4, Credits: 84

Comparable in Level to the first year of a degree, but different in content and smaller in size. Click HERE for more information.


This qualification is particularly targeted at those students who are:

  • Considering a career in companion animal behaviour therapy or have already started in companion animal behaviour therapy as a career option.
  • Wish to further develop their existing knowledge and skill base.
  • Seek to gain a firm understanding of good working practice.
  • Want a practical skills based national qualification in recognition of their learning.
  • Wish to work in a variety of organisations and settings.


Specific entry requirements

It is equivalent study level to the first year of a degree and therefore students should have prior subject knowledge or relevant professional qualifications and academic writing skills. Students also need to have successfully studied at A/AS level (RCF Level 3 or equivalent). Students must have:

  •  Sound literacy skills
  •  Sound communication skills 
  •  Academic study skills 
  •  Ability to think analytically


This course is taught across four residential weekend modules and two non-residential modules in one academic year.


To complete the course successfully each student must attend all four residential modules in sequence and complete the written course assignments at home and the workbook for each Module, and then complete Modules 5 and 6 at home.


What does passing the CDP Year 1 achieve for you?

COAPE - Centre of Applied Pet EthologySome Students, including many veterinary nurses, dog trainers, veterinarians and animal welfare professionals, apply the knowledge acquired on Year 1 CDP to their work with animals in the context of their existing professions. They often extend their 'job description' to encompass routine animal training and practise behaviour therapy as part of their job, for example by preventing and treating straightforward problems in a veterinary practice or in a dog training club. Others have introduced new assessment, handling and treatment programmes for pets in rescue facilities while some assistance dog trainers have gone on to apply their new behavioural knowledge to their training programmes.


Many new Students also choose to continue their studies and enrol for Year 2 off the Diploma in order to attain the next level either to advance their knowledge further, or as the next essential step in pursuing their career as a qualified companion animal behaviourist.


On-line Student Resource Centre

As a student of this constantly updated course you will also benefit from a dedicated password-protected Student Resource Centre, which provides access to a range of rich media content to complement the formal course notes, including video, sound, graphics and pictures, web links and additional written content. You will also have access to a dedicated password-protected Student On-line User Group where you can discuss the course, general behaviour matters and help each other with your studies.


What the student will learn

Module 1


Sep 2018 (TBA)

  • Domestication of cats and dogs and social evolution.

  • Type variations in feline and canine behaviour.

  • Developmental biology of cats and dogs, breed and type variations in emotional development.

  • Dominance Reconsidered - replacing old ideas.

  • Animal anatomy and physiology.

  • Introduction to neurophysiology.

  • Factors affecting canine learning.

Module 2


Dec 2018 (TBA)

  • Emotional development of the cat and dog.

  • The emotional brain.

  • Aims and practicalities of running puppy classes.

  • Aims and objectives of running kitten classes.

  • Survival strategies.

  • Learning theory.

  • Techniques of signalling reward, non-reward and aversion.

  • The impact of punishment on behaviour and learning.

  • Human psychology; the other end of the lead.

  • Signals of reward and non-reward.

Module 3


March 2019 (TBA)

  • Psychopathology in animals: depression, anxiety and phobias.

  • Core emotional states.

  • Introduction to EMRATM (Emotional, Mood and Reinforcement Assessment).

  • Sex and hormones and their effects on animal behaviour.

  • Diet and behaviour, therapeutic diet manipulation.

  • Indoor marking problems and house training in cats.

Module 4


May 2019 (TBA)

  • Introduction to behavioural pharmacology and its practical application.

  • Law and legislation.

  • How to work with difficult dogs.

  • Temperament assessments.

  • Case history studies, introduction to ESTATM (Emotional Systems Therapy Application). Putting theory into practice through interactive class discussions of a variety of common behaviour problems in cats and dogs, how to approach and resolve them.

  • What happens after the course? The support structure in place to help you start and grow a successful business and develop your skills and knowledge: the ongoing support of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers (CAPBT). Continuing Professional Development.

Module 5


Behaviour Therapy for Companion Animals

Hands-on real cases are assessed in detail under a systematic step-by-step approach to learn the key principles of assessing behaviour problems in a methodical and structured, evidence-based manner. The approach consists of 8 key stages:-

  • Stage 1: Understand the principles of assessing behaviour problems in cats and dogs: Critically evaluate the origins of the behaviour. Construct an assessment strategy.

  • Stage 2: Evaluate any safety issues and apply a risk assessment. Summarise your responsibilities to the general public with regard to the case. Identify any legislation that might relate to the case.

  • Stage 3: Understand the implications of behavioural variability on behaviour problems in cats and dogs: Determine the innate needs of the case with regard to behavioural characteristics. Evaluate the essential stages of development and critically discuss how these and the key aspects of socialisation and handling may impact on the case.

  • Stage 4: Apply the principles of learning theory to behaviour problems in cats and dogs: Evaluate how both non-associative and associative learning contribute to the problem behaviours in the case. Critically comment on the use of signals of reward and non-reward with regard to each problem behaviour. Assemble appropriate training and practical handling strategies. Evaluate which types of specialised equipment might be helpful and explain how these should be used.

  • Stage 5: Understand the physiology of emotions in behaviour problems: Evaluate the neurophysiology and neurochemistry of reward and aversion, anxiety, hormonal influences and diet for the case. Evaluate the core emotional systems and discuss their influence. Critically evaluate the application and use of the EMRA approach.

  • Stage 6: Recognise when to use pharmacological intervention in behaviour problems: Determine which pharmacological agents might be applicable to each presenting problem behaviour. Explain the effects and actions of these pharmacological agents. Evaluate any contraindications of the use of these agents including the licensing and legal implications for the prescribing veterinarian.

  • Stage 7: Know how to assemble a behaviour modification plan for feline and canine behaviour problems: Evaluate the physical and emotional limitations of the owner. Evaluate any environmental limitations. Create a goal orientated strategy and behaviour modification programme for the case.

  • Stage 8: Understand the principles and responsibilities involved in creating a feline and canine client file: Create a client file and explain how this information will be recorded and stored. Explain how to liaise effectively with other specialists within the field of behaviour e.g. such as referring veterinary surgeons.

Module 6


The Study of Companion Animal Learning

Students undertake a home-based study of animal learning - each student will undertake the same study (topic to be advised at Module 2), based on the following protocol:

  • Formulate a study plan.

  • Establish an experimental protocol.

  • Set out the basis for an experimental study.

  • Understand the principles of experimental methodology.

  • Review experimental methodology.

  • Analyse the findings.


Course Information

Authors and Tutors: COAPE Behaviour, Veterinary and Nutrition Experts, Reseach Scientists, Dog Handling and Training Experts


Course Type: Residential component held over four weekends along with written coursework to be completed between Modules. Written coursework to be completed for Modules 5 and 6.


Course Format: Each of the four Residential Modules comes with a comprehensive set of printed course notes that build into an authoritative reference text and a workbook to help students develop and integrate ideas throughout the course. Students also have password-protected access to the dedicated on-line COAPE Student Resource Centre where additional support and course materials are available.


Course Duration: 1 academic year. The course commences in September each year.


Venue: To be announced (TBA)


Additional Information: Course notes, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunches, pastries, chocolate and one night's dinner and accommodation included for each residential Module.


Abilities Required for This Course: This course contains practical assessment activities which involve sight, hearing observation and physical interactions/handling skills. Evidence and assessment will  require a demonstration of practical skills.


Course Cost: An early bird discount of £250 is available for registration and payment in full for the course made prior to DATE TBA and we can offer interest-free payment by instalments on the full cost price for those who wish to spread the cost. Please contact the Registrar in the first instance for more information about both possibilities.


Course cost includes all teaching materials, access to the online Student Resource Centre, accommodation and meals.


A deposit of £500 is required in order to secure a place on the course as numbers are strictly limited. This includes the CERTA registration fee.



Course fee: £6,495.00 + Registration Fee of £500.00 = £6,995.00

Deposit: £500.00

ALL fees shown include VAT (registration no. 187211800).