Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 1
Hours: 12 lecture per quarter (12 total per quarter)
Prerequisite: Per California Code of Regulations, this course is limited to students admitted to the Advanced Veterinary Assisting Apprenticeship Program.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: CSU
Grade Type: Letter Grade Only
Repeatability: Not Repeatable


Provides enrichment of the core curriculum to the veterinary assisting apprentice student. Presenters will include veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and animal care and management professionals involved in behavior and training of dogs and cats. Course will focus on learning theory, animal welfare, making the veterinary hospital experience less stressful and more pleasurable, decrease learned procedure aversion and fear of veterinary offices, and decrease of injuries to professionals.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Recognize body language in dogs and cats
B. Describe the role of environment in creating fear, anxiety and stress in patients and clients
C. Describe learning theory in dogs and cats
D. Recognize aggressive behavior and describe how to de-escalate that behavior in dogs and cats
E. Demonstrate competence in talking about dog and cat learning and behavior with clients
F. Describe desensitization and counterconditioning as techniques to help manage problems in pets

Course Content

A. Body language
1. Canine development and communication
2. Canine body language
3. Preventing problems
4. Feline development and communication
5. Feline body language
6. Preventing problems
B. The veterinary and shelter environment
1. Feline and canine sensory perception
2. Stress in pets
3. Veterinary nurse's role in environmental control
4. Talking to clients
C. Learning theory in dogs and in cats
1. Associative learning
2. Application of learning theory
3. Reinforcement
4. Punishment
5. Habituation
D. Aggressive behavior in dogs and cats
1. Body language of aggression
2. Contributing factors
3. Role of fear
4. De-escalation techniques in dogs
5. De-escalation techniques in cats
E. Client education in dog and cat behavior
1. Pet socialization
2. Positive training techniques
a. Lure, reward
3. Taking a behavior history
4. Role of the technician
F. Desensitization and counter-conditioning
1. Indications
2. Terminology
3. Case examples

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

Classroom equipped with multimedia presentation and projection capabilities. Computers with Internet access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Various methods of evaluation may be used:
A. Reflection papers for each topic presented
B. Active participation in planned activities
C. Team or individual projects
D. Tests or other assessments

Method(s) of Instruction

During periods of instruction, the student will be in:
A. Interactive lecture/presentations
B. Small group discussions and activities
C. Hands-on experiences as appropriate for individual topics
D. Video presentations

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses. edited by Shaw and Martin. Wiley, 2015.

Yin. Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats. 1st ed. Cattledog Publishing, 2009.


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

Assignments may include but are not limited to:

A. Writing assignments:

1. Reflection essays

2. Surveys

3. Journal

B. Reading assignments:

1. Textbook: 15-30 pages per week

2. Handout and online resources provided by instructor or guest lecturer



Registered Veterinary Technician