Postgraduate Course Veterinary Behaviourist

Qualified veterinarians specializing in animal behaviour manage cases that resemble those handled by Clinical Animal Behaviourists. A Veterinary Behaviourist's caseload may involve cases where there is a greater probability of the problem behaviour having a medical cause or requiring medication for effective treatment. Their primary practice setting is typically within a veterinary environment, but not exclusively for example, Veterinary Behaviourist work exclusively as Clinical Animal Behaviourist.

Veterinary Behaviourists often collaborate closely with Clinical Animal Behaviourists, providing vital support in the cases they manage. Their cooperative efforts are primarily focused on the identification and management of potential medical factors contributing to problematic behaviour. Additionally, Veterinary Behaviourists take responsibility for supervising the medication component of treatment plans.

Veterinary Behaviourists also collaborate with Clinical Animal Behaviourists, Animal Behaviour Technicians, and trainers to put into practice behaviour modification plans or specific components of behaviour modification plans, they have devised.

Dog at lake

What does the caseload of an Veterinary Behaviourist include?

The problem behaviours included in the case load of a Veterinary Behaviourist 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.
  • Abnormal behaviour: Abnormal behaviour refers to behavioural and emotional responses that are considered abnormal when they are too intense, prolonged, frequent, or when they occur without an appropriate triggering stimulus. The context in which these behaviours occur is essential for determining their abnormality.
  • Behaviour problems linked to medical conditions or processes: This category involves problem behaviour that result from medical conditions, such as discomfort, pain, illnesses, and disruptions of the nervous system, underlying or contributing to the display of problem behaviour.
Veterinary Behaviourist

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 a Veterinary Behaviourist

This two-year postgraduate programme, worth a total of 60 credits, is designed for veterinarians seeking to specialize in 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 27 ECTS, while the second year encompasses modules 5-6-7-8, totaling 33 ECTS. If you prefer, it is also possible to extend the program over three years. In such case, get in touch with the course coordinator Heidi Poelman to discuss this option. 

Online workshops

The workshops aim to translate theoretical knowledge into practical scenarios, equipping you with the crucial skills required for success as a Veterinary Behaviourist.

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.

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 Anatomy and physiology and the interaction between health and behaviour        9
M5 Animal law and ethics         4
M6 Clinical procedures: Theoretical background         8
M7 Clinical procedures: workshops         7
M8 Research methods and practice        14
TOTAL        60

Entry requirements and language

This programme is available to certified veterinarians with a Master of Veterinary Medicine degree.

All lectures, assignments, exams, and workshop days are in English. Proficiency in both active and passive comprehension of the English language is vital.

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

Cat hiding

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, practical assignments and participate in oral exams and online multiple choice exams. The assessment method per module is specified in the ECTS files.

Honden in gras

Certificate

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

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok via Pexels

​​​​​​​Accreditation

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

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 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

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

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

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