Thinking Pets - Training Excellence

COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour

The Diploma in Animal Behaviour is only available to students who have successfully completed one of the COAPE C01, C03, C02, C04 or C05 courses with a final course mark of 50% or above. If the final course mark is below 50% you will be required to complete one other of the C0 courses to qualify to enrol for the Diploma in Animal Behaviour OR show evidence of learning to an approved equivalent standard or beyond.
Please do not hesitate to ask us if your qualification entitles you to enrol for the Diploma.

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


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

The successful completion of the Diploma in Animal Behaviour will qualify you as a COAPE Behaviour Practitioner. This course will help you 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, 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.

Successful students can apply to become Affiliate members of the COAPE Association of International Behaviour Practitioners and Trainers (CABPT). In South Africa, with the experience you have gained in the Advanced Diploma, you can take on the role of a mentor to the newer Diplomats if you would like to. Once the Diploma in Animal Behaviour has successfully been completed the students may enrol for the COAPE EMRA Advanced Diploma in Animal Behaviour if it’s offered in their country.

year 1-new



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


  • 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 signalling reward, non-reward and aversion.


  • General dietary influences on behaviour.
  • EMRA.
  • House training problems in cats and dogs.
  • Indoor marking and other problems in cats.


  • Core emotional states in mammals.
  • Psychopathology in animals: depression, anxiety and phobias.
  • Affective Neuroscience in animal behaviour.


  • Behavioural Pharmacology 1.
  • Behavioural Pharmacology 2.
  • Introduction to ESTA.
  • Sex and hormones.


  • 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.

You will also be required to log hours at a dog training facility in order to gain extensive experience in the practical application of science of training dogs.

All students are encouraged to accompany a COAPE qualified practicing behaviourist from Module 2, if one is available in your area, to gain experience in the consultation field. Pre-Approved Case studies may be made available for you to take on from Module 4, and these cases are once again handled under the supervision of your tutor.


Karin Pienaar (Landsberg), Wendy Wilson, Carla van der Merwe, Jessica Prinsloo, Judy Post, Kimberley Leeuwner.

COAPE has a team of qualified Markers who mark student’s assignments in order to ensure complete impartiality. These assignments are randomly moderated by a qualified Moderator to ensure consistency in the marking standard worldwide.

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 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 a 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.

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 lectures, assignments and 2 case studies, with 1 module, of approximately 10 hours of lectures, being presented about every 3 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

Don’t forget to enquire about our affordable monthly payment plans, make your dream course a reality!


Please note that there is a required reading list which you will receive once you have enrolled and paid the full deposit. The price of the books is not included in the course fee. It is the student’s responsibility to source and obtain the books. A number of the books are available on Amazon Kindle or E-Readers, which may prove more cost effective.

Each module has stipulated books which are compulsory reading for preparation prior to the lectures. This means each module’s books must be purchased and read in advance. For further information about the estimated cost per module please contact us as per the details below.

For all COAPE Course enquiries, please contact Wendy Wilson: [email protected] or [email protected]

Wendy Wilson
[email protected]

[email protected]