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

Module 4:

  • Psychopathology in animals: depression, anxiety and phobias.
  • EMRA™ and ESTA™ application: Affective Neuroscience in animal behaviour: Separation Related Distress.
  • EMRA™ 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.


Students are required to log a number of community service work hours over the duration of the course, at a local shelter of their choice where legislation allows.  In countries where this is not possible, students will be guided on how to obtain their practical hours by their tutors. Students will gain this practical experience under tutor guidance while working with dogs and cats in the shelter as well as offering advice on, and assistance with newly adopted pets in order to complete their Diploma. This community service is designed to benefit animal shelters, many of whom cannot afford to employ a full-time Behaviourist.

Students will also be required to log hours at a dog training facility in order to gain extensive experience in the practical application of the science of training dogs. If this is not possible please let us know and we will let you have the links to training videos to assist you.

All students are encouraged to accompany a COAPE qualified practicing behaviourist from Module 3, if one is available in your area, to gain experience in the consultation field. Pre-Approved Case studies may be made available for students to take on from Module 4, and these cases are once again handled under the supervision of your tutor.




  • Karin Pienaar (Landsberg)
  • Leigh Shenker
  • Jo Scott
  • Jessica Prinsloo


Course Type:
An Online course comprising approximately 80 hours of lectures filmed in a live lecture setting, research assignments, case studies, community service in animal welfare where allowed, and comprehensive live tutor and student interactive sessions via Skype.

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 additional support and course materials are available.

Course Duration:
Approximately 24 months.

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 50 hours at both a shelter and training facility during the course, where legislation allows.

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