Introduction to Canine Cognition, Behaviour and HAI

The summer course will bring together highly-qualified international academics, specialists, and practitioners who study canine behaviour and well-being in order to create a unique environment where students with different backgrounds can get a scientific overview of this multifaceted, interdisciplinary field.


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Numerous scientific studies about the origin, cognition, and behaviour of dogs give us the opportunity to understand dogs better and provide information that allows us to re-examine human-dog relationships and the methods used to train dogs. The need for educated specialist that work with animals as well as well-informed dog owners should be a priority, as it ensures safer and more efficient human-animal interactions.

The Tallinn University School of Natural Sciences and Health has partnered with the Estonian Association of Assistance and Therapy Dogs, which itself is a full member of the International Association of Human-Animal Interactions Organizations, and is the umbrella organisation for dog-assisted interventions in Estonia. The collaboration brings complementary know-how as well as the practitioner’s view to the academic environment. The Estonian Association of Assistance and Therapy Dogs assesses, trains, and examines therapy dog teams, develops standards, and coordinates the work of teams in the social, health, and rehabilitation spheres. There is currently rapid growth in demand for assistance as well as therapy dogs, but a lack of knowledge concerning the mental, emotional, and physical welfare of dogs used in dog-assisted interventions is a recurrent concern.

The summer course programme is designed to equip students with the knowledge to understand what and how dogs communicate with each other, and how to interpret their behaviour whilst interacting with humans. What are the internal mechanisms for learning? How can the interspecies communication benefit both? How can we measure and enhance the well-being of animals? These and other questions will be discussed by local and foreign interdisciplinary speakers.

Tallinn Summer School 2018 course 
“Introduction to Canine Cognition, Behaviour and Human-Animal Interactions”
16.07.2018 – 27.07.2018 
Credits: 10 ECTS 
Language: English

Objectives of the course: The course is intended for all those interested in dogs and aims to provide knowledge, skills, and competencies regarding dog cognition, health, and behaviour, life circle and needs. But also human-animal interactions, law and cultural aspects of dogs in urban societies. 

Application deadline: 16th of March 2018
The candidates will be selected based on submitted CV and motivation letter to Subject: TLU Summer School 2018 course application.

Tuition fee: €640
Study materials and coffee/snack included. Lunch and accommodation not included.
Payment details will be forwarded upon acceptance.

Previous knowledge of the subject is not obligatory.
The language of the course and study materials are in English. A good command of English is therefore required (higher intermediate English language B 2.1- B 2.2).

Schedule: 16th - 27th of July 2018 (Monday to Friday)
10am to 2pm lectures on TLU campus, 4pm to 6pm practice sessions in different locations.
Exam (online, multiple-choice questions) open 27th of July to 7th of August 2018. 

A certificate is awarded to participants with the positive exam score over 60% of total score.

Line Sandstedt
teaches animal-assisted interventions at The Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and is the managing director of The Norwegian Centre of Anthrozoology. This center works in the field of human-animal relationships and is an interdisciplinary association, comprised of individuals with expertise in ethology, rehabilitation, public health, and special needs education. Line Sandstedt has 20 years of experience in several areas of human-animal interactions, including consulting and practice in animal-assisted interventions, education, research, and behaviour modification, and dog training classes.

Janne Orro
is president of the Estonian Small Animal Veterinary Association and a Member of the Board at the Estonian Kennel Union. Janne is a practicing veterinary doctor and educator. Janne has had Jack Russell terriers for 13 years and bred several litters under the FCI-recognized kennel Oruallika.

Kairi Koort
is the Head of Curricula in Biology at Tallinn University School of Natural Sciences and Health. Her specialty is genomics and bioinformatics and she has been studying various biological systems on a whole-genome level for the past 15 years. 

Ilo-Hanna Keres 
is a practicing advocate who has experience in providing consultations in animal law. Ilo-Hanna is an associate at the Glikman Alvin Law Firm. Ilo is an animal lover and has been interested in animal protection since childhood. As a member of the Young Environmentalists’ Action, as a child, she sent monthly personal petitions to various heads of states and organizations. Today, she often uses her legal skills pro bono in local animal protection court cases.

Course topics:
Evolution and domestication
Biological family Canidae
Canis lupus familiaris
Dog breeds

Anatomy and Physiology
Life Circle 
Zoonoses, common diseases, vaccines. 

Instinct and learned behaviour
How do dogs learn new behaviours?
Training methods
Dog-dog and dog-human relationship
Problem behaviour. Changing behaviour.

Five Freedoms
Hierarchy of Dog needs
One Health model
Animal rights, laws, and legislation.

Psychological theories behind human-animal bond
Working dogs
Dog assisted interventions

For more information:

Course co-ordinator: 
Kairi Koort:

The organizers reserve the right to make changes in the programme and schedule.