Introduction to Canine Behaviour


Dogs are a charismatic species, and increasingly, people seek to understand their behaviour and want to work with them. Scientific understanding of canine behaviour has improved greatly in the last twenty years and is constantly evolving as this area of research continues to expand.

To gain a true understanding of canine behaviour, knowledge has to be garnered from different disciplines, namely ethology, evolutionary biology, genetics, psychology and veterinary science among others.

This online course will explore:

  • How our understanding of canine behaviour evolved over the last fifty years, how dogs came to be and evolved alongside man, as well as similarities and differences with the wolf and other canids.
  • How different breeds emerged and how they contrast from one another, how dogs experience the world and communicate with each other and with humans.
  • The many varied factors that can affect behaviour.
  • The different behaviour of dogs, normal versus abnormal behaviour and common issues.

You will be introduced to above concepts and up-to-date behavioural research.

The course is open to anyone with an interest in canine behaviour and is suitable as an introduction for those considering canine behaviour as a career, those with a general interest wishing to expand their knowledge, or those who simply want to better understand their dogs.

Programme details

Course begins: 19 Sept 2023

Week 0: Course orientation

Week 1: The History of Canid and Canine Behaviour

Week 2: Canine Evolution and Domestication

Week 3: Dogs VS Wolves

Week 4: Breeds, Temperament and Personality

Week 5: Canine Communication

Week 6: The Main Behaviours of Dogs

Week 7: Factors Affecting Behaviour

Week 8: Common Behaviour Issues of Dogs

Week 9: Introduction to Body Language

Week 10: Advanced Body Language


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course fee £257.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Muriel Brasseur

Dr Brasseur is a zoologist and behaviourist with a PhD in Animal Behaviour and Genetics. She has studied many species including canids and marine mammals. An animal behaviourist for over 25 years, she specialises in companion animals.

Course aims

This course aims to provide the student with an overview and a solid grounding of canine behaviour.

Course Objectives:

  • To gain a general, in-depth and scientifically accurate understanding of how dogs work.
  •  To gain a solid grounding of all the factors affecting canine behaviour.
  • To apply the knowledge and understanding gained to enrich the lives of your canine companions, or to contribute towards further studies of canine behaviour.

Teaching methods

The online course will be taught via pre-recoded lectures, and online live interactive discussions of published research, and some practical activities, including description and analysis of behaviours from video footage. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • have gained an understanding of how dogs came to be and how dogs work;
  • know the similarities and differences between dogs and wolves;
  • have a thorough understanding of the main behaviours of dogs and factors affecting those behaviours.

Assessment methods

The assessment will consist of Option B:  A mini-project in which the students will describe and analyse a canine behaviour (either via own observations or via online resources or both) with a discussion of their function and evolution.

In the project (1500 words) the students will analyse a canine behaviour by referring to relevant and recent research on the area. The students choose, in agreement with the tutor (outline due in week 5), an area or behaviour that interests them and will then identify suitable online resources or observation methods as well as one or more relevant scientific papers. Alternatively, there will be also be an option to develop an essay-based project (1500 words) for students wishing to explore a more theoretical or general topic (outline due in week 5).

In addition to the credit-bearing summative assessment described above, students will have the choice of completing a formative written coursework (500 words) to be completed before week 5, where students will describe and analyse the behaviour of a dog from a video clip found by the student with help from the tutor, and discuss its function and purpose (either via own observations or via online resources or both).   

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


We will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)