COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour (DipCABT)

The COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour is accredited as a Continuing Professional Development course by the South African Veterinary Council and is recognised by the ABC SA.


SAVC CPD ACCREDITED: CPD points for SAVC accredited courses are only valid for qualified veterinarians and para-veterinary personnel in S.A.

The Diploma in Animal Behaviour is only available to students who have successfully completed one of the COAPE C0 courses OR show evidence of learning to an approved equivalent standard or beyond. Please don’t hesitate to ask us is your qualification entitles you to enrol for the Diploma.

The successful completion of the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour will qualify you as a COAPE Behaviour Practitioner. ONLY COAPE qualified behaviourists can become members of the prestigious CAPBT and have automatic membership to the International Companion Animal Network (ICAN).

This course will help you to achieve your goal of making Animal Behaviour your full-time profession, whether you choose to work with companion animals, animals in rescue facilities, captive wildlife, rehabilitation or any animals where behavioural analysis, emotionality assessment, training and behaviour modification may be required.

Being your own boss has a lot of merit for people who enjoy working from home and working their own hours. If you choose to work with companion animals, networking with rescue organisations, trainers and veterinarians in your area is very important as this is where the majority of your referrals will come from. Most of these establishments do not have the time or resources available to address behaviour problems and are usually very relieved to be able to refer clients with problematic pets to someone who is highly qualified to deal with them. Plus, COAPE keeps a database of students who have successfully completed the Diploma and refers clients to them on a regular basis. If you want to work with other species, the Diploma is still the course for you – you will notice that dogs and cats are the 2 species we concentrate on in the Diploma because most people are familiar with them, but the course teaches mammalian behaviour and therefore is suitable for anyone wanting to work with any other mammalian species too. We teach the science of behaviour, which means once you have the tools and the know-how about applying them, you are well-equipped to work in this fascinating field, regardless of your choice of species.


Module 1:

  • Welcome, introduction.
  • Domestication of cats and dogs and social evolution.
  • Type variations in canine behaviour.
  • Developmental behaviour.
  • Comparison between puppy and kitten classes.
  • Dominance reconsidered.

Module 2:

  • Advanced learning theory.
  • Introduction to neurophysiology and anatomy.
  • Emotional development in mammals.
  • The emotional brain and survival strategies.
  • Impact and ethics of punishment on learning.
  • Techniques of signaling reward, non-reward and aversion.

Module 3:

  • Introduction to MHERA™.
  • Core emotional states in mammals.
  • Introduction to ESTA™.

Module 4:

  • Psychopathology in animals: depression, anxiety and phobias.
  • MHERA™ and ESTA™ application: Affective Neuroscience in animal behaviour: Separation Related Distress.
  • MHERA™ and ESTA™ application: Indoor marking in cats.
  • Housetraining problems in cats and dogs.
  • Risk assessment for the behaviour practitioner.

Module 5:

  • Behavioural Pharmacology 1.
  • Behavioural Pharmacology 2.
  • Sex and hormones.
  • General dietary influences on behaviour.
  • Diet manipulation.

Module 6:

  • 2 Case Studies.


One of the things we at COAPE pride ourselves on, is keeping up to date with the latest developments in the fields of Animal Behaviour and Training, and passing this latest information on to our students. So we are in the process of updating the Diploma this year and it will be changing, in probably  mid 2022, in terms of delivery, but any content changes will be incorporated into existing students’ course material, so if you enrol before the official update don’t worry, you will still be getting the most up to date information on your course. 



All students are required to log a number of pro bono behavioural work hours over the duration of the course. You will be guided by your lecturer about when you can start doing practical work with clients, where you will take on clients under your tutor’s supervision to gain practical experience from work learnt to date.

For the first two Modules, you will be given guidance during tutoring sessions on how to apply what you’ve learnt, but please note that you are only allowed to start working with clients after you have watched the Module 3 lectures.

With the restrictions of Covid19 this assistance can be provided via online consultations using Zoom or Skype. The student must obtain the approval of COAPE prior to the initial meeting.

When not working with clients, you are welcome to work at rescue organisations or animal shelters with approval from the relevant organisations.

Proof of the student’s ability to train dogs is required, a library of training videos will be made available for students who require step-by-step assistance. A video showing the student training the required exercises must be handed in with the final case study.



  • Karin Pienaar (Landsberg)
  • Leigh Shenker
  • Nancy Payne
  • Anina Labuschagne
  • Tracey Manthey
  • Jo Scott

Course Type:
An Online course comprising approximately 80 hours of lectures filmed in an online live lecture setting, research assignments, case studies, pro bono consultations and community service in animal welfare where allowed, plus comprehensive live tutor and student interactive sessions via Zoom, a very active closed Facebook page and WhatsApp group.

Course Format:
Each of the five lecture-based Modules comes with a comprehensive set of course notes that build into an authoritative reference text and 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 the lectures are presented, plus additional support and course materials are available.

Course Duration:
Approximately 24 months. All students must have completed their Diploma within 36 months (3 years) from the course commencement date.

The Online Diploma starts every February, June and October internationally, students can enrol at any time.

Additional Information:
Electronic course notes are provided for each lecture Module.

Abilities Required for This Course:

This course contains practical assessment activities which involve sight, hearing observations and physical interactions/handling skills.

Students must be computer literate, have the use of a computer with internet access and able to operate basic programs such as Microsoft Word.

A good command of the English language is essential.

This is a demanding course comprising approximately 80 hours of filmed lectures, 5 assignments and 2 case studies, with 1 module of approximately 10 hours of lectures, being presented about every 4 months.

In addition, students are required to log pro bono hours for both consulting and training.

This course requires dedication as it is the highest qualification of its kind, it is ESSENTIAL that all the books are read, and that additional independent research is done to ensure good marks.

Pricing & Enrolment