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Applied Canine Behaviour Specialist 4 (ACBS4) is a science-based, highly practical professional education course that looks at modern research and the diverse range of protocols, procedures and tools used by professional trainers, veterinary behaviourists, and behaviour consultants in assessing and dealing with developmental, psychosocial and higher order behavioural issues. 

This world-class higher-education certification program
has been designed by experienced industry professionals specifically for those that want to work - or are currently working - as specialist consultants in the assessment, management and rectification of higher-order and complex behavioural problems. These include; maladaptive fear & phobias, anxiety disorders, stress sensitivity, hyper-reactivity, aggression, resource guarding and separation stress/anxiety. 


Live & Recorded Online Sessions
Practical Case Studies


Self-Paced Learning
Guideline: 160 -200 hours


Advanced Certificate


This course investigates and analyses all higher-order classes of psychosocial and behaviour problems and incorporates cutting-edge strategies and applied procedures for prevention, management, treatment and rehabilitation.

The program goes into detail on the assessment, analysis and diagnosis of psychological and behavioural problems in dogs,
and the full range of treatment protocols, including pharmacological intervention, exposure therapy, and applied behaviour modification strategies. The curriculum also investigates psychological/mental disorders in dogs, including the assessment,
causal dynamics and management strategies. 

This advanced-level course goes into significantly more detail on the contemporary scientific research and evidence-based practices employed when dealing with these complex psychological, developmental and behavioural problems than any comparable program worldwide.

The course curriculum includes a series of case studies, presented by professional behaviour consultants, taking students through specifically selected cases they have worked with. These case studies incorporate all aspects from the initial assessment and diagnosis, through the entire therapy, training procedures, and management process. The case studies include a diverse range of maladaptive psychosocial and behavioural problems including - but not limited to - fear reactivity/timidity, generalised anxiety disorder, hyper-reactivity, resource guarding & "dominance issues", separation stress/anxiety and related behaviours, and a range of aggression problems towards both humans and other dogs.

Unlike many other international courses, the ACBS4 program fully addresses the more contentious issues relating to serious psychosocial and behavioural issues in dogs, these include; relinquishment & euthanasia, BSL, the dominance/hierarchy controversy,  livestock chasing & killing, the use of aversive incentives in behaviour modification, the role of electronic collars in training, and the effectiveness of "force-free" training when dealing with serious aggression cases. The course takes a balanced objective approach, outlining the evidence-based "pros & cons" involved in these and other contentious and sometimes bitterly debated areas.

We are aware that student's will have different reasons for completing this course and as such there are 3 elective modules. The first covers communicating with clients, owners and others involved with the dog (including veterinarians, dog walkers, groomers etc.). It goes into detail on how to advise and educate dog owners on the necessary protocols required to address the problems with their dogs, and the difficult discussions that are sometimes required in extreme cases.

The second elective module introduces students to expert legal opinion/witness work on dog-related cases. In addition to covering the processes and protocols involved, it includes real-world case studies.

The third elective is designed for those wanting to conduct professional consults for clients. It covers the how-to and logistics involved in the structure of sessions and achieving successful client engagement.

All 3 of these electives are optional (zero cost) modules for those persons who require education or competencies in these areas.

Until now there has not been a professional development program specifically designed to fully educate those persons in the industry who already have some background - often as dog trainers or handlers - in the scientific, technical, ethical and applied aspects of this specialised field.

The course is a generic program and is therefore relevant to persons from all fields and sectors. The course has been designed for - and is recommended to - carers, trainers and consultants from all sectors of the industry, particularly those involved in managing or dealing with dogs with higher-order behavioural problems.

ACBS4 is not an entry-level program and applicants will need to provide evidence of prior learning or professional experience in a relevant area  to be eligible for this course.

Due to the detailed nature of this program, students will require the CERT Academy Applied Canine Behaviour & Learning 3 (ACBL3) course. As this is the first time we are offering these courses to the general public, they will run concurrently. 
When you enrol for the Applied Canine Behaviour Specialist 4 Course you will automatically be enroled in the Applied Canine Behaviour & Learning 3 course, so you do not have to do this separately. 
ACBL3 is currently included at no additional charge for those undertaking this ACBS4 course. 

The program can be conducted largely - and in some cases entirely - by distance learning as it makes use of our extensive and detailed video library, taking students through all aspects of this specialist field. In addition, students are provided with a highly-detailed full colour e-manual and other learning resources.


  • Classification of psychosocial, developmental & maladaptive behaviour problems  
  • Causal Dynamics of higher order classes of behaviour problems
  • Preventative strategies for higher-order behavioural problems
  • Habituation, environmental exposure & systematic desensitisation
  • Development of social competence & a prosocial/cooperative schema
  • Breeders' roles & responsibilities in the development & prevention of problems  
  • Functional Behavioural Assessment: Protocols & procedures
  • Analysis &  diagnosis of antisocial & maladaptive behaviours in dogs 
  • Stages of learning & instructional design in applied behaviour modification 
  • Exposure Therapy: Applied protocols & procedures for reactivity reduction  
  • Differential reinforcement & constructive behaviour modification  
  • Understanding & managing aggression & maladaptive defensive behaviour  
  • Safety Training: Protocols & procedures for modifying aggressive behaviour  
  • CCC: Development of Confidence, Competence and Capacity 
  • Resilience & empowerment: development & optimisation 
  • Adaptive learning & productive response strategies 
  • Development of prosocial & adaptive coping strategies  
  • Exercise design & structure for conducting Exposure Therapy & Safety Training 
  • Ongoing management & consolidation protocols  
Optional / Elective Units (not required for certification)
  • Introduction to expert legal opinion/witness protocols in dog aggression cases  [No additional fee]
  • Communication protocols & strategies for dealing with clients, owners & stakeholders  [No additional fee]
  • Format, structure & conduct of professional behaviour consults [No additional fee]
N.B. As advised above, this course includes the CERT Academy 'Applied Canine Behaviour & Learning 3' (ACBL3) course. Please also review the course subjects and modules on that program.


All CERT Academy courses are designed to provide flexibility, allowing students to work around their lifestyle and work commitments.

The program can be conducted largely by distance learning for those students who prefer that option. 
Online delivery is conducted via live Zoom sessions, assigned video & PowerPoint presentations and reading material. Live Zoom sessions, are recorded, so that students who are unable to attend a particular live session/s can access the video recordings at a time that suits them. Students are provided with a comprehensive, detailed and fully illustrated colour e-manual and additional learning resources. 

We also run regular live group Zoom Q&A sessions with our instructional team, professional consultants and special subject matter expert guests. These sessions provide a great opportunity for students to join the team and their fellow students in discussing the course material and to ask questions.

There is a requirement for students to shadow or assist a professional consultant (or demonstrate prior experience in this area) as part of the course curriculum. Students can work with our team at our facilities or onsite when conducting behaviour consults. Alternatively, students may find their own suitably qualified/experienced consultant to work with in their local area (conditions apply).

N.B. For students with relevant experience, this practical component may be covered by RPL (see the section below on RPL).
For students living remotely to our facilities, or for international students that wish to visit Australia, we run periodic block training sessions throughout the year. We also conduct live video streaming of consultations and sessions as part of the curriculum, giving students the opportunity to be part of the consultation process remotely.  

Students are provided with all required course material and learning resources for the program however, it is recommended that certain books be purchased by students to further develop their knowledge. A list of recommended books will be provided.

Assessments are a combination of ‘open book’ multiple-choice assessments, live Zoom group Q&A sessions, and two assignment presentations that demonstrate the student's knowledge and competency.

International students are welcome to apply. Our team has provided extensive training and professional development courses to international students and agencies.

Please contact our Course Coordinator at info@certacademy.com.au if you have any questions.


Although there is a competency requirement to complete the course,  the Live Zoom sessions, are recorded, so that students who are unable to attend a particular live session/s can access the video recordings at a time that suits them. This allows students to progress at their own rate and review the learning resources as required.

Students are welcome to attend all sessions relating to their selected modules.


The timeline to complete this course is relatively flexible.
As long as all components of the course are completed,
 the workload can be tailored around individual students' commitments. Thus, the hours listed here should only be considered as an approximate guideline.  


160 - 200 hours


4 - 5 hours per week x 40 weeks


The maximum time permitted to complete the course is
 20 months from commencement, however, students may request additional time under exceptional circumstances.
 The Academy’s policy is to allow flexibility within reasonable parameters.


Due to the advanced nature of the training offered in this course, persons who have no (or limited) previous relevant background will require relevant education prior to admission.

Examples of relevant backgrounds for admission to this course may include:

  • Persons who have conducted a formal education program, such as a course on zoology, psychology, behavioural ecology, or veterinary science for example.
  • Persons who have completed (or are currently doing) the Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training, or Steve & Vicki Austin's Dog Training Behaviour Certificate, or other noted and substantial dog behaviour/trainer education program (not short courses).
  • Dog trainers with solid knowledge of behavioural and learning science.
  • Persons with significant experience in related fields such as veterinary nurses, shelter workers etc.
  • Persons with significant experience as a pup raiser or dog handler in an agency or organisation.

An important point to note is that due to the technical information covered in the curriculum, there is an expectation that anyone doing this course already has a strong working knowledge of animal psychology, behaviour and learning theory, and the basics of dog behaviour modification (as a minimum). If applicants do not have this knowledge, then this program is not recommended.

Prospective applicants who have no previous education relating to the above, but are still wanting to complete this course can email our Course Coordinator to discuss options.  Alternatively, they could consider doing an entry-level program with another organisation and then apply for this course at a later date.

All applicants who do have the requisite knowledge & experience are required to submit evidence of such to the Coordinator prior to the commencement of the ACBS4 course. We will review all submissions and respond to applicants directly.

Students must have basic computer skills and have access to a computer or laptop and a stable internet connection for online learning.

Student LLN requirements: Students are required to be able to read and write in English for this course.
For international students for whom English is not their primary language please refer all enquiries to our Course Coordinator.

Please email any questions and/or required correspondence to our Course Coordinator at info@certacademy.com.au 


This is not an entry-level course so the expectation is that all applicants already have relevant background or education. Based on this, any application for RPL/RCC would only be considered if the individual has significant relevant education or professional background relating to the subject matter.

RPL/RCC is available for elements of this course. Applicants must be able to provide evidence of courses they have completed, and/or professional references, along with a detailed current summary of evidence to be eligible for RPL/RCC.

Students must submit an initial request for RPL/RCC, including their summary, to the Course Coordinator, at info@certacademy.com.au  We will review all requests and contact applicants directly.


Advanced Certificate: Applied Canine Behaviour Specialist 4

This course has been developed in line with the nationally recognised qualification: Diploma of Canine Training and Development 10777NAT. This means that students who successfully complete this ACBS4 course will be eligible to apply for recognition of prior learning for the Diploma. 
Successful graduates from this course also receive an additional qualification:

Technical Certificate: Applied Canine Behavior & Learning 3

(*Samples only. Not the actual certificates for these courses)



Course Cost: $4,050 (AUD) including GST

We offer commercial rates to agencies and specialist organisations. Rates are subject to the number of agency participants. Please send enquiries to info@certacademy.com.au for further details.

Terms & Conditions of Enrolment:

Before you enrol for the Applied Canine Behaviour Specialist 4 course, please make sure you meet the criteria outlined in the prerequisites section above, with regards to relevant education and/or experience. 

Applicants who have completed - or are currently doing - the NDTF CERT III in Dog Behaviour & Training, or other relevant education, will automatically qualify and can enrol without concern.

This also applies to persons who have significant relevant knowledge from other sources. Our main concern is to ensure that applicants for this course have a significant working knowledge of applied animal psychology, behaviour science and learning principles. If you have this knowledge please enrol.

All applicants must submit the requisite evidence demonstrating their relevant education and/or experience. 

You can email us the summary of your relevant experience and/or supporting documents via the button below.

Once you have done this, please proceed to the Enrol & Pay section below. 

As always if you have any questions, please email the Course Coordinator at info@certacademy.com.au 

Enrol & Pay

Payment is required at the time of enrolment for this course. 

 Payments can be made via Stripe, PayPal or AfterPay.

You can pay the full $4,050 upfront, alternatively we offer 3 or 6 month payment plans via Stripe through our payment gateway (fees and terms & conditions apply). Payment Plan options & details can be found when you click the Enrol & Pay button below. Under Payment Methods you will see a dropdown box that says Payment Plans. You can choose your preferred payment option there.

If for any reason we determine that your application does not meet our terms & conditions, we will contact you to discuss your options. These may include:

  • CERT Academy refunds your payment (minus any bank or credit card, and/or related fees) to the account it was paid from. 

or if you wish
  • CERT Academy can hold on to your enrolment information and payment until you are able to meet the requisite terms & conditions of enrolment.

As a reminder, when you enrol in this course you will automatically be enrolled in the Applied Canine Behaviour & Learning 3 course which is currently included at no additional charge for those undertaking this ACBS4 course. 

If you are satisfied you have met all these conditions and want to enrol on this course, please proceed.

We look forward to having you join us.
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