COAPE Diploma in Dog Behaviour
(DipCABT-D) C.C.A.B.

The successful completion of the COAPE International Dog Diploma will qualify you as a COAPE MHERA™ Qualified Behaviour Practitioner.

MHERA It is a state-of-the-art approach that provides a practical framework that allows the behaviourist, veterinarian, animal professional or dedicated owner to evaluate the individual animal’s emotional welfare and then address any deficits identified that may affect his behavioural and emotional wellbeing. It is not a rigid formula or recipe, but a fluid assessment tool that takes an individual’s uniqueness into consideration. MHERA (and the treatment protocol ESTA) are powerful tools when used properly and can be successfully applied to any animal species.

ONLY COAPE qualified behaviourists can become members of the prestigious CABTi and have automatic membership to the International Companion Animal Network (ICAN).  This course will help you to achieve your goal of being a qualified Dog Behaviour Practitioner and making this your full-time profession.

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 regularly.

Students who successfully complete the Dog Diploma will hold the qualification of COAPE MHERA Qualified Behaviour Practitioners and are entitled to use the letter DipCABT-D after their name, as well as being able to use the MHERA Qualified logo on all their marketing material.

What the student will learn:

  • Dog domestication (including ethology of the dog, their perceptual abilities, social behaviour and selective breeding for function ((predatory motor patterns)), as well as how this impacts their behaviour today).  
  • Type classification. 
  • Behavioural Ontogeny: The emotional and behavioural development of puppies, including sensitive periods of development and key behavioural milestones. 
  • Dominance in dogs.   
  • Dominance reconsidered.
  • Functional Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology – the nervous system and its role in behaviour, including neural plasticity.  
  • Neurotransmitters and their relevance in behaviour. 
  • Learning Theory (operant and classical conditioning, habituation, sensitization, schedules of reinforcement, non-associative learning, desensitization and counterconditioning).  
  • Understanding signals of reward and non-reward, using clickers and reward markers in behavioural therapy.  
  • The ethics of punishment and why it has no place in modern behaviour therapy. 
  • CORE emotional states in animals and their relevance in modern behavioural practices.  
  • The Neuroscience of CORE emotional states. 
  • The Science of Emotionality: Core affect space, dimensional and discrete emotion theories.  
  • MHERA: an emotional and behavioural wellness assessment protocol.  
  • Cognitive Bias. 
  • The Behavioural Inhibition System.  
  • MHERA Applied.  
  • Introduction to ESTA (Emotional Systems Therapeutic Application). 
  • ESTA Applied – helping animals resolve emotional challenges.   
  • Psychopathology in Humans and Animals/Dogs.  
  • MHERA and ESTA Application: Separation Related Distress. 
  • Control and Consent in Training and Behaviour.  
  • Behavioural Pharmacology (classifications, uses and limitations as well as legislation). 
  • Sexual Behaviour and Hormones. 
  • Dietary influences on behaviour for dogs.  
  • MHERA and ESTA Application: Reactive and Aggressive Behaviour. 
  • How to conduct a consultation. 
  • Risk assessment for the Practitioner. 
  • Report writing: Behaviour modification programs and vet reports.  

The case studies are where you demonstrate your ability to take the theoretical knowledge accumulated throughout your course and apply it to animals who need behavioural assistance within the restrictions and complexities of everyday life. Once you have successfully passed your case studies, you will have earned your COAPE Certified Animal Behaviour (C.C.A.B.) certificate. 

COAPE prides itself on keeping up to date with the latest developments in the field of Animal Behaviour and making sure that our course content is always cutting-edge. As such, the content and format are often updated as the field expands. Rest assured though that any changes will be incorporated into the student’s current course.



Practical experience:

Please note that proficient understanding and ability to apply appropriate, motivational training techniques is a prerequisite for admission into this course. Should you find yourself unable to meet this requirement, we kindly request you to reach out to us for further discussion on potential alternatives.

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 COVID restrictions still in place in some countries, 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.


Proof of the student’s ability to train dogs is required, and 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 before the start of Module 3.

Course information:

The Diploma is presented and tutored by the following highly qualified and experienced professionals:

  • Karin Pienaar (DipCABT) C.C.A.B. OCN, CertCAB, CABTi Practitioner, ICAN CAB member.
  • Leigh Shenker BADA (Hons)(WITS), (DipCABT) C.C.A.B. OCN, CABTi Practitioner, ICAN CAB member.
  • Nancy Payne BA(Physics), MSc (Physics), (DipCABT) C.C.A.B.
  • Dr Vicky Payne BVetMed MRCVS, (DipCABT) C.C.A.B., CABTi Practitioner, ICAN CAB member.
  • Jo Scott QTLS, RVN, (DipCABT)C.C.C.B., CABP, MAPDT, CABTi Practitioner.

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 state-of-the-art online COAPE Student Learner Management System where the lectures are presented, along with additional support, assignments, and course materials.

Course Duration:

Approximately 24 months, with a maximum timeframe of 36 months if the Do-it-in-your-own-time option is chosen.

The Diploma in Dog Behaviour starts every April and November; however students can enrol at any time to start working through the reading material in preparation for the lectures.

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 be 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.

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

For more information on this course email us on [email protected]