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Qualification -Certificate in Animal Psychology

Course CodeVAG114
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification -Certificate in Animal Psychology.
 Introduction To Psychology BPS101
 Animal Behaviour BAG203
 Cat Psychology and Training BAG222
 Dog Psychology and Behavioural Management BAG221
 Equine Behaviour BAG216
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 1 of the following 9 modules.
 Animal Biology (Animal Husbandry I) BAG101
 Animal Health Care VAG100
 Bird Care BAG108
 Cat Care BAG107
 Horse Management I BAG102
 Pet Care (Different Types Of Pets) AAG100
 Horse Management II BAG204
 Natural Animal Health Care BAG218
 Horse Management III BAG302

Note that each module in the Qualification -Certificate in Animal Psychology is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What Do You Think Animals are Really Thinking?

It is easy for you to look into the eyes of an animal and feel that there is a soul trapped inside that body that thinks very much like you do. In reality, this is further from the truth than many people usually like to acknowledge. That said, the Ancient Greek philosophers such as Descartes argued that the fundamental difference between animals and humans is that animals do not have a soul, and this view has persisted since then in Western culture.
Descartes also argued that animals did not think like humans or use reasoning. Instead, he considered their behaviour to be at the mercy of 'mechanistic instincts'. Despite humans having mechanistic movements like animals, and also having some animalistic traits, it was considered that through their ability to reason humans were above animals in the way they behaved.  
In contrast to the Ancient Greek philosophers, Charles Darwin in his 'Theory of Evolution' (1859) suggested that there were differences across animal species. By demonstrating similarities between human and animal behaviours, he argued that there were no fundamental differences between humans and animals. Therefore, humans are also animals, we just happen to be more highly developed ones.
Today we often see animals in films or the media which are given human characteristics. This anthropomorphism is widespread. Perhaps it helps us to feel closer to animals. The online Free Dictionary defines anthropomorphism as “Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behaviour to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena”. Some well-known anthropomorphic examples include Walt Disney’s 'Cinderella' in which Cinderella has companions who are talking mice. In George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' different types of animals were given different human traits, whereas the rather comical 'Mr Ed' was a talking horse. Films and books have often embellished their animal characters with human characteristics to encourage us to relate to them.  
The first step to understanding animal behaviour is to recognise that while there are common behavioural traits that may cross over between species, every species is largely different to other species and none more so than humans. People behave differently to animals, because their mind works differently to animals.



Animal owners and carers will often need to handle animals to inspect them or provide first aid or other health care treatments. For small animals, or less disruptive procedures, managing the animal is not as much of an issue, but in some circumstances, handling them can become a challenge.

Understanding the psychology of animals is the first step toward handling animals in any situation. When you understand how they are likely to react, you can prepare and have contingencies prepared for.

When administering first aid there can be a very real threat of an animal causing further injury to itself and possibly to you.
Restraining it is usually wise, particularly if there is the likelihood of an animal becoming frightened, agitated, or if you are unfamiliar with the nature of the animal being handled.
Restraining may be done with small animals by holding them firmly; but often more is needed than a second pair of hands if a large animal is to be restrained.
Never under rate the possible damage that may be caused by even a small animal, and always be sure to avoid the animal scratching or biting.

Methods of restraining animals may include:

  • Holding them
  • Putting them on a leash
  • Muzzling the mouth
  • Tying them down to a table top
  • Placing them inside a cage or pen which they cannot turn or move much inside.
  • Placing on a slippery surface
  • Driving or moving them into a narrow chute
  • Tying ropes to, or holding two or more legs and having a different person holding each rope, stretched out so the animal’s movement is restricted in any direction.
  • Bribery (eg. Supplying feed)

Why Study Animals?

Animals are an integral part of the human world, and understanding their behaviour is fundamental to living in harmony with animals.
Whether you encounter animals as pets, wildlife or domesticated farm animals; you will undoubtedly encounter them continuously throughout your life.
If you work in the pet farm or wildlife industries; you will not only encounter them; but an ability to understand animal psychology is critical to success or failure in your workplace.  

Meet some of our academics

Dr. Gareth PearceVeterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation. Gareth has a B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.
Cheryl McLardySports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has spent two decades working in agriculture and equine industries, across England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Cheryl has a B.Sc.(Hons), HND Horse Mgt, C&G Teaching Cert.
Peter Douglas Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management. Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian. Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to apply that knowledge both through his work with ACS, and beyond.

Check out our eBooks

Animal PsychologyComparative Animal Psychology. This is an excellent reference for anyone interested in understanding animals better; students, animal owners and anyone who works with animals.
Horse CareIf you're starting a career in the equine industry, this text is perfect to accompany your study notes! If you're a new horse owner keen to develop or solidify your knowledge of horse care techniques, this book will guide you through basic anatomy and physiology; feed and nutrition;, health management and shoeing; handling techniques and the use of equipment. Learn about caring for horses kept at grass or effectively care for the stabled horse. With ten chapters full of expert advice which is easy to read and follow you can be a confident horse owner! 111 pages
Animal HealthA book for anyone interested in animal health, from pet owners to farmers. Contents cover understanding health issues, disease and injury prevention, inspecting animals, differential diagnosis and common illnesses. Animals can suffer from injury, poisoning, hereditary conditions, nutritional problems and viral, bacterial and fungal infections. 77 pages.
Caring for DogsThis book is jam packed full of practical advice and up to the minute information every dog owner needs! You will explore fundamentals of nutrition and health; parasites and illness; breeds and reproduction; training and behaviour management! Understand how your dog thinks and what your dog wants you to know. Try techniques to overcome behaviour problems! This is a book for dog owners, students and anyone interested in working with dogs. 79 pages