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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

VTEC 1723: Animal Behaviour for Veterinary Technologists


Students learn to interpret natural animal behaviours as they relate to safe handling, restraint and management practices. Students examine and learn how to employ low stress techniques that result in a positive experience for both the animal and the handler. Students acquire knowledge of restraint techniques used in the veterinary industry for common domestic species.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate appropriate behavioural management of cats and dogs to be applied in clinic, kennel and home environments (includes compounds, playrooms).
  2. Observe, identify and accurately transcribe the behaviour of dogs and cats into patient files and assignments.
  3. Identify common restraint techniques used in veterinary procedures including low stress handling.
  4. Apply effective training techniques, using a variety of aids, to teach dogs and cats socially desirable behaviours.
  5. Observe, identify and discuss normal behaviour in dogs, cats and horses.
  6. Develop strategies to facilitate integration of pet behaviour counselling in veterinary practice.
  7. Examine common behaviour problems of dogs and cats that may be problematic to an owner and more serious behaviour problems that may require intensive management and behaviour modification strategies.
  8. Communicate with clients regarding the identification, classification and strategic management to alleviate a pet’s behaviour problems including common medications used for behaviour management.
  9. Recognize with moderate accuracy certain normal and abnormal behaviours in pet birds (psitticines) and describe how bird behaviour can be modified by the application of learning principles.

Course topics

Module 1: Small Animal Handling and Restraint

Module 2: Overview of Animal Behaviour

Module 3: Normal Canine—Behaviour and Social Development

Module 4: Normal Canine—Body Language

Module 5: Normal Feline—Socialization and Body Language

Module 6: Normal Feline—A Day in the Life

Module 7: Behavioural Learning Theory

Module 8: Behavioural History

Module 9: Behavioural Challenges

Module 10: Horses and Birds

Required text and materials

The following materials are required for this course:

  1. Shaw, J., & Martin, D. (2015). Canine and feline behavior for veterinary technicians and nurses. Wiley Blackwell.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-0-813-81318-9

The following textbook would have been purchased in VTEC 1713. Students who did not take VTEC 1713 and/or don't already own the required textbook, will need to purchase it. To do so, please contact Enrolment Services at or 1.800.663.9711 (toll-free in Canada), 250.852.7000 (Kamloops, BC), and 1.250.852.7000 (International).

  1. Boyle, J. (2016). Crow and Walshaw’s manual of clinical procedures in dogs, cats, rabbits and rodents (4th ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-1-118-98570-0

Additional requirements

A video recording device

Optional materials

It is strongly recommended that students have access to one of the following editions (or earlier) of a veterinary dictionary. The recommended veterinary dictionaries are:

  1. Studdert, V. P., & Gay, C. C. (2020). Saunders comprehensive veterinary dictionary (5th ed.). Elselvier. ISBN-13: 978-0-7020-7463-9 (This textbook is also available as an e-text.)
  2. Aiello, S. E., & Moses, M. A. (Eds.). (2016). The Merck veterinary manual (11th ed.). Merck & Co. ISBN-13: 978-0911910612 (This textbook is available online at: Merck Manual, Veterinary Manual)


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 60% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

The following table illustrates how your final grade will be determined for this course.

Assignment 1: Animal Handling 15%
Quiz 1: Animal Behaviour 2.5%
Assignment: 2 Sensory Systems 5%
Quiz 2: Canine Body Language 2.5%
Quiz 3: Feline Socialization and Body Language 2.5%
Assignment 3: Environmental Enrichment 10%
Assignment 4: Animal Training 10%
Assignment 5: Behavioural History 5%
Assignment 6: Discussion—Behaviour Challenges 5%
Quiz 4: Birds and Horses 2.5%
Final Exam (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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