Certificate in Companion Animal Studies VAG024

Expand Your Opportunities in the Pet Industry

Opportunities abound for a career with pets; ranging from pet minding services (eg dog walkers and kennels), to health care, manufacturing and supplying pet products, pet foods; through to breeding and training pets. Your imagination may be the only limit to what is possible.
Study pets, their care and build knowledge and skills to work in the pet industry, either in your own business or for someone else.

Course Content

There are four compulsory modules, and two electives (you choose) that together make up 600 hours of study.

The compulsory modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Companion Animal Studies.They are:

  • Animal Health Care VAG100
  • Pet Care AAG100
  • Starting A Small Business VBS101
  • Animal Behaviour BAG203

Elective Modules

In addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following modules.

  • Animal Anatomy And Physiology (Animal Husbandry I ) BAG101
  • Aquarium Management BEN105
  • Dog Care BAG108
  • Cat Care BAG107
  • Cat Psychology and Training BAG222
  • Bird Keeping BAG108
  • Horse Care I BAG102
  • Ornithology BEN102
  • Sales Skills VBS108
  • Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202
  • Diagnosing Animal Diseases BAG219
  • Dog Psychology and Training BAG221
  • Natural Health Care for Animals BAG218
  • Animal Breeding BAG301



Pet animals don't always behave in the way you might expect, or want. There are always reasons behind their behaviours though; and learning to understand those as you do across this course, can go a long way to helping you better manage the animal.

Learn Why Cats Behave as they Do

Cats are not as dependent on humans as we may think. Obviously they don't need to be taken for walks to get exercise and release energy. Most cats require little training other than encouraging them to use litter trays and cat flaps. However, some cats may have specific behaviours which need addressing.

  • Fear - some cats are fearful of humans, other animals, or changes to their environment such as loud noises or moving home. This fear may have arisen because they were abused by humans before they were adopted by their current owner, perhaps they were abandoned, or maybe they had a frightening encounter with an aggressive animal.  In these cases, it is important to establish a safe zone in the house that the cat can retreat to when it becomes fearful. It could be behind a sofa, under a bed, or even a room where the cat can relax and feel that it is not threatened. 

  • Stress and Anxiety - this is often caused by changes to the cat's environment, loud noises, or visits to the vet. Techniques for managing anxiety include covering the cat basket with a towel when transporting it to cut out visual stimulation, setting up a safe room with the cat's favourite toy, bedding, scratching pole, and so on, allowing the cat plenty of time to explore and become accustomed to a new environment, and making sure that the cat can escape from noises or unfamiliar sounds such as when visitors arrive or there are fireworks.

  • Aggression - cats may be aggressive because they have been allowed to become this way by their owner. Typically, this occurs when an owner allows the cat to scratch and bite their hands when playing with it. If a cat does this, a good way to control it is by slowly removing your hand and grabbing the cat around the scruff of its neck (parent cats do this with their mouth), and then pushing its face towards the ground. This is how their errant behaviour is dealt with when they are kittens and they usually feel sufficiently embarrassed afterwards to stop the behaviour. Sometimes cats can become aggressive because they are overstimulated. Owners need to recognise when to stop petting or playing with their cat.  

Cats are generally creatures of habit. They like a clean litter tray and they prefer their food and water bowls to be away from the tray. They also need to feel safe and have freedom to move around. Many problems can be overcome by providing a stress-free environment.

Sometimes unwanted behaviours are caused by illnesses, fleas, sores, and other factors. In these cases, taking care of the physical problem can help to control the behaviour.    

What Do You Know about How Dogs Behave?

Many dogs display behavioural problems or ‘unwanted behaviour’ at different stages in their lives.
An undesired behaviour is generally a reaction to an underlying physical or psychological problem, and the behaviour displayed is just the dogs’ natural way of demonstrating its way of handling the problem. 
Examples of some of the behavioural problems a dog may display are listed below:
  • Excessive barking - It is natural for a dog to bark when it’s excited or while defending a territory, however, a bored, lonely or unhappy dog may tend to bark all day, which may turn into an unhealthy routine. Unfortunately, consistent barking can become a behaviour pattern for the animal. Once this type of barking has become a habit, the dog will require training to control the barking.
  • Chewing objects – It is natural for a dog to chew, but it may easily become a problem if destruction is initiated
  • Running away – This could occur from fear, the desire to chase something or someone, to be free, from curiosity, etc.
  • Digging – This behaviour normally comes from boredom but it may also be displayed as a form of escape, to cool down, to bury objects (e.g. bones).
  • Begging – Begging for food (and receiving it) may lead to digestive problems and obesity. Some dogs, when receiving food at different times of the day may experience excessive drooling (e.g. boxers). Drooling is a natural mechanism that implies the production of saliva to lubricate the food and prepare the dog for its digestive process. However, excessive salivation is not healthy and, in extreme cases, it may cause dehydration.
  • Aggression – This may include territorial aggression, sexual aggression, dominant aggression or even predatory aggression. This behaviour may occur with other dogs or with humans, and may very often lead to injury.

Managing certain behaviours can help the dog live a healthy lifestyle throughout its whole life. Behavioural problems are best dealt with simply, using positive reinforcement to teach the dog to perform an alternative ‘acceptable’ behaviour instead; however, not all behaviours can be handled this way. Other types of management and training may have to be achieved in order to lead the dog to good lifestyle. Other ways of training or managing a dogs behaviour include:
  • Conditioning
  • Socialisation
  • Keeping your dog on a lead
  • Provide toys to avoid boredom and enhance chewing toys rather than your own objects
  • Visual signs
  • Appropriate voice commands
  • Food treats
  • Halters
  • Clickers
Appropriate training should preferable begin at the early stages in a dog’s life so it can adjust to the boundaries and the reinforcement of good behaviour. The aim of behavioural training is to avoid bad habits by enhancing the ‘good’ ones. Another type of training is referred as obedience training, where the dog will learn to follow certain commands stated by its owner or trainer, such as to “sit”, “stay”, “out”, “no”, etc.

Crying and whining, for example, is a learned response amongst adult dogs – they rarely whine at each other, only at humans. Puppies quickly learn to use whimpering and whining to get their owner’s attention. It can be controlled or diminished in puppies by not giving in to it and rewarding the puppy with food, affection or interest.

Dogs are intelligent and may be trained for many different reasons. Whether it’s for work related purposes, house domestication or for guarding, dogs need to maintain a habit of routine acquired through frequent repetition for a successful training session.


All too often, people get a pet then give it away; or even worse, neglect it!

Sometimes this may be because circumstances change; but often it is because the idea of having a pet is very different to the reality.

Before anyone chooses a pet, they should consider the following questions.

  • Do you have the time to care for a pet?
  • Do you work long hours?
  • Can you walk your pet in it needs? (Are you fit enough to walk your pet?)
  • Is the pet suitable for your home?
  • Is your house/yard big enough? Is it secure?
  • Can you keep the animal for its entire life?
  • Do you have any future plans that will leave a pet you choose homeless?
  • Do you have permission to keep the pet on your premises?
  • Can you afford a pet?
  • Have you researched the species you are considering buying properly?
  • What level of veterinary care is needed and do you have access and money required for such care? 


Although doing a course may not guarantee you work – it will set you apart from those that have not studied at all and it will improve your personal choices when applying for jobs or give you and your clients more confidence in you if you are looking to set up your own companion animal business.

When it comes to applying for jobs - each job listed usually gets a huge amount of response, when employers choose people to interview they will look at a range of factors, what you have studied will be just one of those factors. You need to be able to catch a potential employer’s attention and stand out from the rest.

So what do you need?

  • Great communication skills: verbal, written and also the ability to use a computer. Whenever we are offering people a service (such as pet care or dog walking for example) they are looking for someone instils a feeling of confidence. They are leaving their animals in your care and it is important to them that they feel you have the right skills and approach to properly care for their animals. 
  • Problem solving skills: no matter what profession you work in you need to be able to problem solve – when working with animals this is equally important so that you can construct programs to suit each individual animal in your care. ACS courses are based on developing problem solving skills and you do this through your set tasks and assignments throughout the course.
  • Knowledge and skills demanded of the job. In any job that involves the care of animals you must know what you are doing – this is something you cannot do without the correct skills and knowledge and the only way to get this is by undertaking a course and gaining personal experience.
  • A passion for the work and willingness to learn.
  • Presentation and grooming - people who present as being well organised and well-groomed will impress.

How Will A Course Help Me To Gain those Skills?

Choosing the right course will help i.e. one that develops knowledge, practical and also your problem solving skills. Not all courses do this. At ACS our courses focus on Problem Based Learning so this enables the student to develop these skills and at the same time using this learning method also improves you knowledge retention and recall.

What Can You do to Improve Your Career Prospects?

  • Choose a course that you are passionate about – be open to learning and use this course to start building your future. Today we are expected to keep learning and studying in order to keep up with a world that is rapidly changing. Learning is a lifelong experience. Study a course that makes you stand out - a qualification that is different to all the other applicants will always catch the attention of a boss, and may be the difference between getting an interview or not.
  • Network with people in the industry, attend conferences and trade shows – make yourself known to people in the industry in general.
  • Try to build a range of skills – multi-skilled people catch the eye of the employer or potential employer.
  • Write a good CV and ask for help if you need it. Tutors at this school will help our students with their C.V.'s if you ask -no cost. Resume Writing services can also be used, but they charge.
  • Recognise your weaknesses and work on improving them - not just academically. And also know your strengths and demonstrate them.

Enrol Now!

Fee Information (CT)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $3,425.51  1 x $3,114.10
B 2 x $1,848.61  2 x $1,680.55
C 4 x $996.93  4 x $906.30

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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