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Think Dog! Certificate in Canine Behaviour & Training. 

Externally accredited programme.

This unique and applied canine behaviour course provides a sound foundation on the subject of dog behaviour and training. The course is home-study based, illustrated throughout, with accompanying video material and self-assessment. 

The course represents the cutting edge of modern behaviour theories and practice. It is delivered at Level Two and gives 12 credits. It is designed to be an ideal first stage in-line with new industry regulations in terms of study level.

Please note: this is the fully ACCREDITED version of the Programme - and as such requires you to submit work and pass assessment. You will receive guidance from a personal tutor, and are required to complete the course within six months. 

Successful completion results in gaining a Certificate from both ThinkDog! as a recognised education provider, and Laser Learning - a government recognised externally accrediting body. This level of interaction and assessment is reflected in the course price. If you prefer to take the course but without accreditation, you can opt to do so here: ThinkDog! Certificate, (Self-Assessed), Part One.

What you will learn:

Module One: 

  • A brief history of dog training 
  • Social evolution of the domestic dog
  • The secrets of the domestic dog
  • Challenging the dominance myth 
  • If it's not dominance, then what is it?

Module Two: 

  • Canine behaviour and influencing factors
  • Recognising and understanding health, diet and the influence of stress 
  • The influence (positive and negative) of training methods on canine behaviour

Module Three: 

  • Learning theory explained
  • Punishments versus rewards
  • Early learning
  • Factors affecting learning
  • The concept of clean clicker training
  • Clicker training step-by-step
  • Clicker training demos

Module Four: 

  • An introduction to canine aggression 
  • Why do dogs choose aggression?
  • Causes, effects, management and resolution
  • On-leash versus off-leash aggression

Module Five: 

  • Shades of grey!
  • Sarah's behavioural problem solving techniques for common issues, including chasing, stealing and jumping up
  • Real-life case history presented on video
  • Fear in dogs
  • How to approach a training session or consultation
  • Why your first driving lesson wasn't on the M25!

Unique course features:

  • Illustrated, up-to-the-minute course notes
  • Webinars and audio guides from Sarah
  • Videos of live training sessions
  • Video material demonstrating a real case history
  • Interactive quiz and downloadable Certificate on pass and completion

Who is this course for?

This canine behaviour course is for anyone who wishes to further their own knowledge of dog behaviour and training, either to expand their skill base or as the start of a whole new career. It focuses on experience and understanding, not simply academic theory. Many professionals - including Sarah - started with this course and recommend it as a result. 

It really is life-changing education!

If you want to become proficient in helping others resolve issues with their dogs and design a future for yourself that is both compelling and achievable, there’s no better place to start.

“It is rare that a course can change your life – but ‘Think Dog!’ really did change mine! Whether you are looking for a better understanding of your own dog, a way to enhance your career, or ways to improve animal welfare, this course is truly inspirational.”JG, Berkshire.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the ThinkDog! Certificate Course

    • Welcome! From Sarah Whitehead

    • About Sarah

    • About Laser Learning external accreditation, and our commitment to industry standards

    • About writing assignments and submitting work

    • How to write an essay for your assignments

    • Suggested reading - an overview with Sarah!

    • Reading list

  • 2

    Module #1: Principles of Canine Behaviour

    • 1.1 Training - an historical perspective

    • 1.2 Man and dog - social evolution at work

    • 1.3 Belyaev's foxes and clues to the domestication of dogs

    • 1.4 The emergence of dominance theories

    • 1.5 If it's not dominance, what is it?

    • 1.6 Summary

    • About John Fisher

    • ThinkDog! Certificate Part One. Module One Assignment

    • Help! I'm having a panic about my assignment!

  • 3

    Module #2: Factors Affecting Canine Behaviour

    • Introduction

    • 2.1 The effects of health and diet on behaviour

    • Bonus material: You are what you eat (pdf)

    • Bonus material: Owner Guide - does your dog need a diet change? (pdf)

    • 2.2 The effects of stress on behaviour

    • 2.3 Owner guide: 20 signs that your dog might be stressed

    • 2.4 The potential effects of veterinary treatment

    • Research paper - Behavioural Risks in Male Dogs with Minimal Lifetime exposure to gonadal hormones may complicate population-control benefits of de-sexing, McGreevy, P. 2018

    • Research paper - The effect of neutering and mammary tumours, Journal of Small Animal Practice, Beauvais et al, 2012

    • Research paper - Age, sex and reproductive status affect boldness in dogs, Starling, M. 2013

    • 2.5 How training can influence behaviour (and not always in a good way)

    • Research paper - The relationship between training methods and undesirable behaviour, Blackwell et al, 2008

    • ThinkDog! Certificate Part One. Module Two Assignment, Part A

    • ThinkDog! Certificate Part One. Module Two Assignment, Part B

  • 4

    Module #3: How dogs learn - the principles of learning theory

    • Introduction

    • 3.1 Basic learning theory

    • 3.2 Punishment versus rewards - ethical considerations

    • 3.3 Early learning

    • 3.4 Crate Training - Owner Guide (pdf)

    • 3.5 Factors affecting learning

    • 3.6 Summary

    • Bonus material: Why I don't 'charge' the clicker (audio)

    • Bonus material: Why I don't 'charge' the clicker (transcript)

    • Bonus material: Clean clicker training

    • Bonus material: A step-by-step (warts and all!) clicker training session

    • ThinkDog! Certificate Part One. Module Three Assignment

  • 5

    Module #4: An Introduction to Canine Aggression

    • Introduction

    • 4.1 Why do dogs use aggression?

    • 4.2 Why do dogs 'choose' to use aggression?

    • 4.3 Dog-dog aggression - on-lead versus off-lead

    • Bonus material: Owner Guide to helping dogs with on-lead issues

    • ThinkDog! Certificate Part One. Module Four Assignment

  • 6

    Module #5: Behaviour problems: Assessment & Methodology

    • Introduction

    • 5.1 Too many shades of grey?

    • 5.2 Common behaviour issues: Chasing

    • 5.3 Common behaviour issues: Jumping Up

    • 5.4 Common behaviour issues: Jumping Up - why I don't teach 'sit to greet'

    • 5.5 Common behaviour issues: No Jumping Up - Owner Guide

    • 5.6 Common behaviour issues: Stealing

    • 5.7 Case history - Sammie the Beagle

    • 5.8 Common behaviour issues: Separation issues (an overview)

    • 5.9 Common behaviour issues: Nervousness

    • 5.10 Fear in Dogs : To Cuddle or Not to Cuddle

    • 5.11 Owner Guide: Helping your dog to overcome fear

    • 5.12 How to approach a behaviour consultation - an overview

    • Bonus material: Why your first driving lesson wasn't on the M25!

    • Bonus material: Ten habits of highly effective behaviourist and trainers (audio guide & transcript)

    • ThinkDog! Certificate Part One. Module Five Assignment

  • 7

    Think Dog! Certificate Course Self-Assessment

    • Think Dog! Certificate Self-Assessment

    • Review your learning

  • 8

    What's next?

    • Congratulations!

    • What's next?

How is the course delivered? 

This course is all online, so you can access it when and wherever you want. You will have 12 months access to the Programme, so you can complete it at your own pace.

The Programme is delivered via webinars from Sarah, including multiple images and video, as well as supporting written materials for you to read.

Sarah has also created useful pdf owner guides for you to download and use with clients… she’s written them, so you don’t have to!


What will you gain from this course?

This Programme is not intended to make you into a canine behaviour specialist in just five online Modules (!). However, it is designed to give you useful skills and confidence in recognising how and where you can help owners with their dogs, how to choose between different training methods and strategies and how to apply theory to real-life practice.

Think Dog! Certificate Accredited (Part 1)

  • Externally accredited

    Complete your assignments and submit work to gain a recognised award in canine behaviour and training

  • Behaviour focus

    Course content guides you through how Sarah approaches common behavioural issues in dogs, through text, video and audio guides

  • Personal tutor

    Your very own allocated personal tutor to help and guide you through the programme and achieve your goals