Postgraduate Course Animal Behaviour Technician

Animal Behaviour Technicians play pivotal roles in the animal care sector. The role of Animal Behaviour Technician includes the application of the science of companion animal behaviour and welfare with a primary emphasis on the prevention of welfare and behaviour problems. It also involves providing owners with advice on behavioural first aid, identifying the cause of problem behaviours and the development of behaviour modification plans for problem behaviours.

Photo by Alesxandr Podvalny via Pexel

What does the caseload of an Animal Behaviour Technician include?

The problem behaviours included in the case load of an Animal Behaviour Technician can be originating from:

  • Normal species-specific behaviours: Being behaviours which are considered normal from the animal's perspective but are seen as inconvenient by owners or individuals in the animal's social circle.
  • Normal coping behaviours: Being behaviour problems resulting from normal attempts of an animal to adapt to and cope with living in a less-than-ideal social or non-social environment.
  • Learning deficiencies: This includes behaviour problems resulting from either a lack of learning experiences or inappropriate learning experiences.

The responsibilities of Animal Behaviour Technicians may also encompass a wide range of other tasks, such as managing and offering behavioural services within veterinary clinics. Animal Behaviour Technicians are employed in animal shelters, where they are responsible for providing good quality of life during the animals stay in the shelter and managing the intake procedures and the rehoming procedures. Animal Behaviour Technicians may choose to establish their independent practices offering behaviour consultations for the type of problem behaviours mentioned above. They collaborate with and refer to Clinical Animal Behaviourists, and Veterinary Behaviourists for cases which are beyond their expertise. Additionally, they may take an active role in assisting Clinical Animal Behaviourists and Veterinary Behaviourist by delivering parts of the behaviour modification plans designed by Clinical Animal Behaviourists and Veterinary Behaviourists.

Animal behaviour technician

Assets

Worldwide and online:
Wherever you live in the world, you are welcome to join this course. 
The course is offered online providing the flexibility to study at your own pace and convenience. Study anywhere, anytime!

Expert instructions:
Learning from international leading experts in the field.

Interactive learning:
Opportunities for interactive learning through discussions, workshops, peer-to-peer engagement, and individual tutoring sessions.

Supportive community:
Connection to a network of fellow students, instructors, and professionals in the field.

Evaluation and assessment:
Regular assessments and feedback to monitor your progress and understanding.

Become an Animal Behaviour Technician

This two-year postgraduate programme, worth a total of 40 credits, is dedicated to the study of dog and cat behaviour and welfare. Each credit corresponds to approximately 25 to 30 hours of study. The first year encompasses modules 1-2-3-4, equivalent to 21 ECTS, while the second year encompasses modules 5-6-7, totaling 19 ECTS.

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be entitled to append the credentials "PG DIP ABT" to your name.

Language

In the ABT course, the lectures are conducted in English. Nonetheless, for those whose native language is Dutch, the choice is available to undertake MC exams in Dutch. In addition, if your assignments are reviewed by a Dutch-speaking evaluator, you are also allowed to submit them in Dutch and take the oral exam in Dutch. We will make efforts to organize Dutch-speaking workshop groups whenever feasible. For individuals whose primary language is English, you can complete the entire programme in English.

Course content

Discover the programme objectives and what knowledge and skills you will acquire in each module. You can read more on the content of each module in the ECTS-files by clicking on the module title.

Modules ECTS credits per module
M1 Ethology of companion animals 8
M2 Learning theory and animal training 6
M3 The welfare of companion animals 4
M4 Animal law and ethics 3
M5 Anatomy and physiology and the interaction between health and behaviour 9
M6 Clinical procedures: Theoretical background 5
M7 Clinical procedures: workshops 5
TOTAL: 40

Online workshops

The workshops aim to translate theoretical knowledge into practical scenarios, equipping you with the crucial skills required for success as an Animal Behaviour Technician.

In the first year, you will work under the guidance of your tutors to enhance your abilities in interpreting animal behaviour, as well as in animal handling and training skills.

In the second year, the focus shifts towards conducting behaviour consultations. You engage in case studies to practice your skills in history taking, formulating behavioural diagnoses, and constructing effective and feasible behaviour modification programmes. You will participate in several guided counselling sessions and receive individual feedback for sessions you conduct.

Entry requirements

You have (at least) a bachelor degree (level 6) with a good command of the English language. 

If you do not meet this requirement, an alternative pathway is accessible to you. You have the option to apply by submitting your portfolio and submission of a motivation letter. If necessary, we will invite you to participate in an entrance interview. Should you wish to choose this route, you can find detailed instructions below. If you have any questions on this, please get in touch with the course coordinator Heidi Poelman for guidance and assistance.

Man with dog working on laptop

If you do not have a bachelor degree you can apply for admission through an evaluation of your portfolio and submission of a motivation letter.

Why write a motivation letter?

An important part of the application procedure for the postgraduate courses is the motivation letter. We will assess your motivation letter together with your CV to find out if you are the kind of student we are looking for in our courses and whether you have a realistic chance to complete the course successfully. 

How to write an excellent motivation letter?

In the first part of the letter tell us about your background in the field of companion animal behaviour and welfare. Think for example of the following questions:

  • In what kind of activities have you participated that illustrate your interest and passion for companion animal behaviour and welfare?
  • How are these activities going to influence your functioning during the course? 

In the second part elaborate on your ambition to study companion animal behaviour and welfare.

  • Why do you feel attracted to the program?
  • What is your motivation to participate in the course of your choice?
  • What do you expect to learn during the course?
  • What do you think makes you an excellent student for this course?

In the final part of your letter tell us about your future plans.

  • How are you going to implement your knowledge in daily practice?
  • What are your career plans?
  • How does the course help you in achieving your goals? 

For the format of your motivation letter, follow the general guidelines below:

  • Write your motivation letter in English or Dutch.
  • Maximum length: 3 A-4 pages.
  • Include the date, your name, address and email address and sign your letter.
  • Save your letter as a PDF file and send it to Adinda Sannen.
  • Together with your motivation letter, send your CV and copy of your diploma(‘s).
Kitten

When seeking to further develop your expertise for a specific role opting for an academically accredited course is highly advantageous. It ensures that you receive a well-rounded and credible education, leading to better career prospects and the ability to provide high-quality services in the field of animal behaviour and welfare for several reasons:

  1. Quality assurance: Accredited courses have undergone a rigorous evaluation process to ensure they meet specific standards of quality and effectiveness. This ensures that you receive a high-quality education.
  2. Credibility: Completing an accredited course provides you with a recognized qualification, which can enhance your credibility and reputation as a professional in the field.
  3. Comprehensive curriculum: Accredited programmes typically follow a well-structured curriculum that covers essential topics and provides a broad and in-depth understanding of animal behaviour and welare and related subjects.
  4. Access to resources: Accredited courses have access to resources such as libraries, free access to online scientific journals, and research materials, which can be invaluable for gaining a deeper understanding of the subject.
  5. Professional recognition: Many professional organisations and employers prefer candidates with qualifications from accredited programmes. It can make it easier to obtain certifications and find employment in the field.
  6. Continued learning: Accredited courses provide options for continuing education and professional development as the acquired academic credits are internationally recognized.
  7. Ethical and responsible practices: Accredited programmes emphasize ethical considerations and responsible practices, which are crucial in the field of animal behaviour and welfare to ensure the quality of life of animals.
Man hand with dog paw
two cats

How do we assess your knowledge?

To assess whether you meet the academic requirements of the course you submit written assignments (in English or Dutch), practical assignments (in English or Dutch) and participate in multiple choice and oral exams (in English or Dutch). The assessment method per module is specified in the ECTS files.

Honden in gras

Certification

After successful completion of the course you will receive a Postgraduate certificate  Animal Behaviour Technician of Odisee University of Applied Sciences. This certificate is an academically recognized qualification.

Photo by Lina Kivaka via Pexels

Accreditation

This course is accredited by the SPPD (Platform professionele diergedragsdeskundigen) for cats and dogs.

How to apply for an exemption?

How to apply for an exemption?

If you wish to apply for an exemption based on previously acquired qualifications (PAQ), please follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Compile a portfolio that includes the following documents:
  • A copy of your diploma (if it has not been submitted previously).
  • For each module for which you are seeking an exemption:
  • Written evidence demonstrating your mastery of the module's content, including your grade and the year in which you completed the module.
  • A copy of the ECTS-file for the module you have already completed (in English, Dutch, French, or German).
  • A copy of the course syllabus or outline of the module.
  1. Submit your portfolio by no later than the 2nd of September 2024 to: adinda.sannen@odisee.be

The programme coordinator will evaluate your application. You will receive an email notification regarding the outcome of your request before the 23rd of September. If your request is approved, you will be granted the exemption.

Jonge vrouw tikt op computer

Online info sessions

We host virtual information sessions on MS Teams at the following dates. To attend, please register for the info session using this link. You will receive the Teams link one week prior to the session.

  • 5th February 2024 - 8 PM CET
  • 6th May 2024 - 8 PM CET
  • 6th June 2024 - 8 PM CET
  • 22nd August 2024 - 8 PM CET
Online infosessie
I have always been interested in dogs and their behaviour. To combine both in my job at Hachiko was already amazing. At Hachiko, we train service dogs for people in a wheelchair, seizure dogs for people with epilepsy and autism dogs. After having followed the ABT-course, I also have a theoretical background to support me. I got in touch with loads of articles and books about behaviour that help me in my daily job. At Hachiko I will now be guiding our foster families who encounter behavioural problems with their puppy or adult dog. Our goal is to have good and happy assistance dogs so we (and they) can even change more lives!
Elke De Vleeschhouwer
Dog instructor and pup coordinator at Hachiko vzw
Elke with pups Zarai and Zofi
I followed the ABT postgraduate course because it is based on scientific research. The insights, skills and knowledge are very up-to-date. I also like the fact that the lecturers are renowned animal behaviorists. I enjoyed diving into all the literature and gaining more knowledge. The insights and knowledge I gained in this course help me in my job for AAP vzw to inform and advise pet owners about the needs of their pets and to support these tips with scientific data.
Laurie Simoen
Laurie Simoen

Meet the course team

Meet the core staff for the programme listed below. In addition to our core team, we are privileged to welcome a range of guest lecturers and tutors who hold international recognition in their respective fields.

Heidi Poelman

Heidi Poelman, MA

Course coordinator Lifelong Learning at Odisee

Heidi.poelman@odisee.be or +32 (0)9 2672709

Jolanda Pluijmakers

Jolanda Pluijmakers, PhD, CCAB, PG Dip CABC

Programme coordinator

jolanda@davalon.nl or +31 (0)6 52833588

David Appleby

David Appleby, MSc, CCAB

Co-programme coordinator

David.appleby@live.com

 

Adinda Sannen

Adinda Sannen, MSc, PhD

Ombuds person

Adinda.sannen@odisee.be

Convinced? Or still having questions?

Want to know more?

You can participate in an online information session where we will provide a comprehensive course overview and address any questions you may have. Follow this link to register for an information session.

Partner

This postgraduate course is a co-operation between Odisee and Davalon, Knowledge in Pet Coaching.

Meisje - nadenkend

Follow us on our socials!

Follow our Facebook-page and/or our Instagram for regular information on our courses and on companion animal behaviour and welfare in general.

The links (symbols) below refer to the main pages of Odisee on social media.