Credentials


To train as a behaviour therapist, you have to go beyond “I have been working with dogs for twenty years”. It takes street smarts, but it also takes a lot of old fashion book research and formal studies.

In my view, to work with dog behaviour responsibly and effectively, you need a solid grasp of:

  • learning theory (laws of classical and operant conditioning) and the dogs’ natural behaviour (ethology);
  • the foundations of dogs’ genetics, physiology and evolution;
  • the scientific method and Ockham’s razor;
  • canine first aid;
  • the latest techniques in animal training and behaviour change;
  • the profession’s code of conduct;
  • techniques in person’s coaching, and 
  • project management principles.

Staying on top of that body of knowledge is a constant endeavour, but learning is my passion, and I do it with great pleasure.

View my CV through Vizualize Me:

Academic qualifications

Postgrad dip Applied Companion Animal Behaviour, started 2012

(Katholieke Hoge School St Lieven, affiliated with the University of Leuven)

  • Applied ethology
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Horses
  • Rabbits
  • Parrots
  • Fundamental ethology
  • History
  • Relation with other fields of behaviour study
  • The 4 questions of ethology
  • Stimulus Integration Response model
  • Techniques
  • Observation protocols
  • Behaviour measurement techniques
  • Ethogram design
  • Important concepts
  • Sexual selection
  • Dominance through animal kingdom
  • Domestication
  • Temperament research
  • Stress physiology and influence on behaviour
  • Research methods:
  • Statistics
  • Applied research methods: the promotion ran its own research project in canine separation anxiety
  • Learning principles
  • Learning theory
  • Classical and operant conditioning
  • Behaviour modification techniques
  • Dog training and learning theory
  • Applied learning principles
  • Introduction to animal-assisted therapy
  • Canine cognition (lecturer: Adam Miklosi)
  • Introduction to police dog training
  • Introduction to SATS animal training technique
  • Welfare, legislation, and companion animals in society:
  • Anthrozoology
  • Client counselling communication techniques
  • Legislation in animal welfare
  • Professional liability in care and advisory professions: legislation
  • Biology and veterinary science
  • Neuroscience:
  • Neurophysiology (lecturer: Dr. Peter Bols, physiologist)
  • Neuropsychiatry (lecturer: Dr. Chrystel Jacobs, DVM and researcher in canine neuro-behaviour)
  • Neuropsychology (lecturer: Pr. Dr. Guy Vingerhoets, MD and neuroscientist)
  • Psychopathology
  • Endocrinology and behaviour (lecturer: Chrystel Jacobs, DVM and canine neuro-behavioural researcher)
  • Genetics and canine behaviour (lecturer: Frank Coopman, geneticist)
  • Animal emotions in research (lecturer: animal emotion researcher and university lecturer Jan van Hooff)
  • Nutrition and canine behaviour (lecturer: DVM and nutrition researcher Myriam Hesta)
  • Behaviour therapy for companion animals
  • Behaviour problems and behaviour therapy (theory)
  • Case studies in behaviour problems and behaviour therapy
  • Internship in behaviour therapy

BSc Zoology, with Honours, 1997

(with the University of Newcastle).

Covered relevant topics like:

  • Ethology (animal behaviour),
  • Evolution, cladistics, and population genetics,
  • Genetics,
  • Ecology,
  • Biochemistry,
  • Molecular biology,
  • Cytology,
  • Introduction to psychology,
  • Parasitology,
  • Physiology,
  • Scientific project management,
  • Statistics (using SPSS), and
  • Research methods.

My thesis focused on neuroendocrinology (hormones and neurology).

This allows me to approach dog behaviour cases from a multi-disciplinary, scientific standpoint, as my assessment is enriched by my knowledge of population genetics, evolution, physiology, etc.

MSc Information Systems, 2005

(with University-College Chester, a college of the University of Liverpool)

Topics that are relevant to my work were:

  • Project management,
  • Risk management,
  • Statistics (using SPSS)
  • Budget management,
  • Project planning,
  • Human management,
  • Strategic planning, and
  • Research methods.

My research paper was in epistemology (focusing on quantitative methods for knowledge re-use).

The above topics are surprisingly relevant to my behaviour modification work, as I approach each case as a project, for which I monitor progress.

Specialist and professional certifications

I have also completed a flurry of specialist qualifications on the following topics:

Canine ethology, 2010

(with Quiebus, Barneveld)

  • Early canine development,
  • Breed differences,
  • Normal canine behaviour,
  • Learning styles,
  • Learning theory,
  • Canine body language and
  • (Human) coaching techniques.

Applied cynological training instructor, 2010

(With O&O, the Netherland’s most reputable dog training qualification)

  • Coaching techniques,
  • Canine body language,
  • Group class presentation,
  • Learning theory,
  • Training class lesson planning, and
  • Training stages.

Applied Dog Ethology, 2011

(with DogVision, the Netherland’s leading behaviour therapy certification institute)

  • History and principles of ethology,
  • Scientific position on dominance and social hierarchies,
  • Canine development phases,
  • History of dog domestication,
  • Sensory world of the dog,
  • Normal canine behaviour,
  • Training class lesson planning,
  • Canine body language and
  • (Human) coaching techniques.

Writing in the Sciences – certified with distinction, 2012

(with Stanford University School of Medicine, US, through Coursera)

It’s one thing to have all this knowledge, but it’s another to know how to translate it for a layman’s audience in my blog. Writing in the sciences has taught me how to make even complex concepts transparent to the layman.

  • Clutter edition techniques
  • Effective verbs
  • Better sentence and paragraph balance
  • Streamlining the writing process
  • Organisation and writing
  • Format of original manuscripts
  • Writing reviews, commentaries and opinion pieces
  • The publication process
  • Issues in scientific writing (plagiarism, authorship, ghost-writing, reproducible research)
  • Communicating with the lay public
  • Peer-reviewing

Advanced Placement Statistics and Probability, 2012

(through Stat Trek, including mock exercises)

I deepened my basic university statistics with this course, to help me continue to interpret scientific articles on dog behaviour.

  • Data visualisation;
  • Study design, including survey design;
  • Probability;
  • Sampling distributions;
  • Confidence intervals;
  • Estimation problems (proportions, regression, difference between means, etc.); and
  • Hypothesis testing (independence, goodness of fit, etc.).

Canine nutrition, 2012

(ongoing, with Compass, UK. First of two modules completed with top grade.)

  • Nutrients
  • Dog digestive system, including dentition
  • Alternative diets
  • Dog nutritional requirements
  • Influence of diet on behaviour

Workshop in SATS training, 2013

(by Erica Bokelmann, SATS animal trainer, behaviour therapist, and postgrad. dip. applied companion animal behaviour)

  • Teaching animals to understand bridge sound (worked with dog and parrot on the day)
  • Teaching animals to target
  • Teaching animals prolonged response (used nose touch as example)
  • Desensitization to collar grab and other veterinary checkup procedures

Introductory dog psychology, 2009

(ongoing, with the Animal Care College, UK)

  • Dog-human interaction
  • Current positions on the pack theory
  • Training methods and schools of thought
  • Learning theory

Canine first aid (US), Oct 2012

(With e-Training for dogs, US)

Including intervention protocol for:
  • Poisoning
  • Burning
  • Medicating
  • Bandaging
  • Heimlich techniques (large, small, medium dogs)
  • CPR
  • Artificial respiration
  • First aid kit composition
  • Crisis plan
  • Prevention
  • Fractures
  • Hypo/perthermia
  • Extracting foreign object
  • Deep cuts and lacerations

Canine first aid (Netherlands), 2013

(With Dierenkliniek Duinoord, The Hague)

Including intervention protocols for:
  • Poisoning
  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Bleeding – bandaging and wound cleaning
  • Heimlich techniques
  • First aid kit
  • Hypo/perthermia

Fundamentals of pharmacology – certificate of achievement

(With University of Pennsylvania, through Coursera)

Exam-based course given by Penn’s Professor Doctor Emma Meagher, Associate Professor of Medicine.

Learnt the principles of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokynetics, including:

  • Receptors types, subtypes, and their mechanisms,
  • Pharmacokynetic profiles: administration – distribution – absorption - metabolism – elimination
  • Dose response principles
  • Stages and regulations of drug development
  • Agonism and antagonism, and different types thereof
This course is extremely relevant in cases where the veterinarian deems medication necessary. This enables me to be an intelligent and knowledgeable conversation partner with the prescribing veterinarian.

Self-study

I also do A LOT of independent reading. I  like to review the material in great details to keep track of what I’ve read.

Last updated April 2012

4 Trackbacks