Application of Learning Theory for the Canine Patient

Help your canine patients, by understanding how they learn.


This module covers canine learning theory and how to apply it to the canine patient. It shows insight into the world of canine learning theory, which enables the practitioner to work with an accurate understanding of the canine patient. This knowledge radically enhances the efficacy of assessment and treatment, through the application of a skill set that so many manual therapists fail to learn;

  •  It is open to all those who work therapeutically with animals or in a veterinary setting; 
  • It is an online course with elements of home study and practice;
  • There will be an end of module quiz-style assessment for all students;
  • Those wishing to use the module as part of the Master Practitioner Pathway, must inform us at the start of the module and an additional assignment will be required for the module to count toward your qualification;
  • The standalone module costs £120.00 plus local tax where applicable. There is however, an additional fee for those undertaking the additional assignment for the Master Practitioner pathway;
  • Students must complete ALL aspects of the course and assessments to be given a Certificate of Completion. 

Your lecturer: Bettina Hvidemose

Behaviourist and Osteopath – Denmark

Bettina graduated her BSc. in Applied Animal Behavior in 2006 and she has a special interest in how physical challenges impact animal behaviour and thus, how many behavioural issues are consequences of pain and/or physical restrictions. Therefore, Bettina has expanded her knowledge into physical approaches to animal biomechanics and treatment and she holds qualifications in different approaches to manual therapy. In 2018 – 2019 Bettina completed the Stage 1 and 2 courses, both canine and equine pathways, with Animal Osteopathy International.

Bettina is passionate about improving animal welfare from a holistic approach including both brain and body. Both dogs, horses and cats are included in Bettina’s everyday practice and teaching field. As a curiosity, she also works with marine mammals, applying ethology and learning theory to enrichment and husbandry training for seals.

Indicative Content 

  • Introduction to the course;
  • What is learning theory & why is it important to understand learning theory when practicing animal osteopathy?
  • Ethology and learning theory: 
  • What is etholoy? And why is it important in relation to learning theory? 
  • Canine – human interaction;
  • The canine brain;
  • Main differences and similarities between the human and the canine brain and how is this knowledge relevant to us? 
  • Learning theoretical concepts;
  • Overview of operant and classical conditioning;
  • Operant conditioning;
  • How behavior and consequences interact and influence each other; 
  • The concepts of reinforcement and punishment;
  • The four types of consequences;
  • How can knowledge of operant conditioning be beneficial in osteopathic practice?
  • What can go wrong? 
  • Classical conditioning;
  • The concept of associations;
  • Conditioning of a previously neutral stimulus;
  • Pros and cons in classical conditioning;
  • How can knowledge of operant conditioning be beneficial in osteopathic practice?
  • What can go wrong? 
  • Combining operant and classical condition in successful practice;
  • Shaping; 
  • Timing;
  • Practical applications – examples and analysis;
  • Improve cooperation with your canine patient;
  • Explore the types of learning theory and how to apply these;
  • Learn how to increase wanted and decrease unwanted canine behaviour;
  • Optimize canine-human communication and decrease stress and misunderstandings;
  • How to communicate information to owners;
  • Be guided through practical examples to apply your knowledge.

As a standalone CPD event – total hours: 10 hours. This is the course without assignments – formative or summative.

Price: £120.00 (plus local taxes where applicable)

Studied as part of the Master Practitioner pathway: 20 hours. This includes taught content, directed home-based activities, assignments and self-directed learning. Additional fees apply.

How will this help you as a practitioner?

  • Develop your understanding of canine behaviour and the canine brain;
  • Learn how to communicate with your canine patient in a way that helps you both;
  • Improve cooperation with your canine patient so that treatment is more effective;
  • Explore the types of learning theory and how to apply these in practice;
  • Learn how to increase wanted (and decrease unwanted) canine behaviour;
  • Recognise that not everything you see is physical and maybe a behavioural issue that needs attention;
  • Optimise canine-human communication to decrease stress and misunderstandings;
  • How to communicate information to owners;
  • Be guided through practical examples to apply your knowledge; 
  • Utilise your new knowledge to educate owners;
  • Enhance your own practice – give yourself knowledge that helps you stand apart from other MSK practitioners.

Who can apply?

This course is open to (and most ideal for) canine-related therapists and veterinary professionals. Proof of prior experience and education will be necessary, as it is aimed at practitioners.

For an application form: email us at

Module Release Date

This module will be released after Bettina’s Fireside on 13/2/21 during which she talks about Canine Learning Theory and how the two courses that she has developed can benefit owners and practitioners.  


Those who successfully complete this module will be awarded a digital AOI Certificate of Completion. Students on the Master Practitioner pathway, can use the hours toward their qualification. 

International Students & English Requirements

We are happy to take national and international students but you MUST be proficient in all aspects of the English language (both written and spoken), so as to ensure that you can engage fully with the course and its contents. The AOI will not be held responsible for any language challenges that arise and no refunds will be made on these grounds.

Online teaching 

This course will be delivered online via our platform. As such, students must be able to ensure internet connectivity. AOI will not be held responsible for internet failure or that of poor signal after the purchase of the programme.