Programs & Courses

Service Dog and Canine Studies Management


About this Program

Medicine Hat College (MHC) is positioned to be the first post-secondary institution in Canada to offer a Service Dog and Canine Management diploma.

Launching in Fall 2022, this two year program prepares students for a variety of careers ranging from owning and operating a kennel, dog grooming business or training operation, to training dogs that assist individuals living with a variety of disabilities including autism, PTSD, diabetes, epilepsy, those who are hard of hearing, or have physical or medical disabilities.

Work integrated learning will be an integral part of the experience, providing students on the job training. Learners will have an opportunity to work directly with the dogs, which will be placed with an actual client at the end of their schooling.

Program Outcomes

Canine Studies

  • CANINE KNOWLEDGE: Identify canine ethology, developmental stages, psychology, physiology, body language, factors of canine wellness, basic veterinary care, the specifics of breeding, raising, and selecting behaviourally and anatomically sound service dogs.
  • REGULATORY: Outline the legal and ethical requirements and regulations involved in the placement of service dogs with individuals with a variety of medical disabilities.
  • TRAINING: Apply learning theory, individualized dog training, handling & husbandry best practices, and be able to communicate and demonstrate these training techniques to others.
  • ETHICS: Apply ethical training and humane husbandry methods to produce canines that have a positive impact on clients.
The Human-Canine Interface
Communicate clearly and concisely in written, spoken, and visual forms that meets the needs of service dog clients and the needs of the canine business through:
  • Written communication
    • Assess canines and clients through detailed observations and note-taking.
    • Compose business plans, marketing plans, and fundraising letters.
  • Oral communication
    • Explain dog behaviour, training techniques and their rationale.
    • Identify and coach improper handling techniques.
    • Demonstrate competence in public speaking to various stakeholder groups.
  • Visual communication
    • Model complex training techniques using demonstrations and common language to large groups of people who do not have any formal dog training skills
  • Listening and observation
    • Observe, diagnose, and respond to human and canine body language

Business Operations

  • ACCOUNTING: Build and manage a budget and accounting plans to maintain the canine business, equipment, facilities, and human resources.
  • MARKETING: Construct powerful marketing messages to promote a canine business in a positive manner through various media channels.
  • FUNDRAISING: Employ proven practices in fundraising necessary to make canine businesses profitable and sustainable.
  • CAREER: Assess personal suitability to a number of employment-related opportunities in the service dog field, including canine care and training positions, service dog placement specialists, and fundraisers.

High School Route

High school diploma with

  • ELA 30-1 or ELA 30-2
  • Two Grade 12, 5-credit subjects with 50% or better

Mature Student Route

  • ELA 30-1 or ELA 30-2


Semester 1 (Fall)

COMM 140
Communication in the Workplace
This introductory communications course provides a general foundation for quality communication in the workplace through written, oral, and visual representation. Its emphases are reviewing basic grammar, developing a personal style, attending to audience and purpose, and enhancing research skills. You will work individually and collaboratively on various written assignments, including a documented research report, as well as give oral/visual presentations.
MGMT 161
Management Theory
Focus of this course is on the management functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling within the context of today's dynamic and changing world. Specific topics include strategic planning, decision making, organizational design, staffing, motivation, and ethics.
CNST 110 Canine Physiology & Care
This course provides an overview of basic canine physiology and care. Topics include basic physiology, veterinary care, canine first aid, and grooming. This course highlights important considerations including anatomical soundness in working dogs, minimizing husbandry stress, and ethical treatment of canines.
CNST 111 Pup Care & Training
This course focuses on caring for young canines. You will learn the techniques and work with a puppy applying basic pup care, socialization, training at the various developmental stages and the application of environment enrichment techniques.
CNST 112 Introductory Canine Psychology and the Human/Dog Connection
Introduction to concepts of training philosophies, canine learning theory, and canine cognition. You will develop an understanding of canine psychology, canine emotions, and explore the pillars of relationship building within the human-animal bond.
Semester 2 (Winter)
COMM 252
Advanced Business Communications
This course examines specific business communications products: memos, letters, resumes and employability skills and presentations. You will develop these products within a business employment context and gain an understanding of the organizational processes that govern internal and external communications strategies.
MKTG 171 Marketing
Introductory look at the concepts and activities involved in the marketing of goods and services. Central to the course is under-standing the marketing mix variables of product, pricing, promotion, and distribution. Other topics include consumer behavior, marketing research, and the strategic marketing process.
CNST 113 Kennel Technologies & Animal Shelters
This course examines the safe containment of animals in a kennel or animal shelter settings. Topics include containment, sanitation, animal health, safety concerns and providing an enriched environment.
CNST 114 Obedience Training for Public Classes
In this course students will learn basic obedience training with their dogs. You will learn specific training techniques for dogs with a future of service work, and focus greatly on leash skills, public access, and marker timing. All skills will be practiced in the lab in group settings.
CNST 115 Intro to Canine Career Pathways
This course investigates various canine career opportunities within the service dog industry; service dog trainer, service dog instructors, kennel staff, puppy program staff, breeding / whelping staff, fundraising, accounting, client services, program development, vet clinic staff, volunteer coordinator, public event coordinator, etc. Students will also explore the various training certifications and governing bodies within the industry and will have guest speakers from international service dog organizations.

Semester 3 (Spring)
MGMT 263 Organizational Behaviour
A behavioral approach to the understanding of people who influence the workings of organizations. Topics of study include team dynamics, motivation, communication, leadership, decision-making, and organizational culture.
ACCT 200 Introduction to Accounting
Introduction to accounting for business organizations. You learn how to report financial results of operations and financial position to investors, managers, and others. Emphasis is placed on using accounting information for decision making.
CNST 216 Service Dogs Roles & Training
Service dogs are utilized to perform specific tasks for their clients. They are not a pet but a medical aid. This course will explore the roles a service dog can perform with training techniques for specific service dog tasks. Students will be given opportunities to work with all the dogs in class.
CNST 217 Client Processing & Dog Matching
This course looks at the role of the client. Topics include client application, interviews, decision to place, placement and follow-up as they apply to various canine organizations. Specifics of the dog skill level and personality, as they apply to client needs and lifestyle will also be discussed.
CNST 218 Human Growth, Development & Disabilities for Service Dog Providers
This course introduces the study of growth and development across the lifespan with an emphasis on speech and language, physical, motor, cognitive, sensory, and social development with a focus on prevalent forms of disabilities. The focus will be the applicability of this information to service animal providers including clinical signs and progressive stages of diseases and disorders, and a thorough understanding of the spectrum of disabilities that dogs are most commonly trained to assist.


Semester 4 (Fall)
MKTG 315 Science of Persuasion
Marketing ultimately hinges on the ability to comprehend human motivation in order to understand the attitudes and behaviours of people and organizations. In this course, students investigate the theory and practice of persuasion, learning to use these concepts to develop persuasive and compelling stories in visual, verbal and written formats.
ENTR 211 Introduction to Entrepreneurship
This course is designed to help students develop an understanding of the business skills necessary to successfully develop an entrepreneurial venture. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to: recognize and evaluate potential business opportunities; develop a feasibility analysis; conduct industry and competitor analysis; and build a viable business model.
CNST 219 Common Behaviour Problems, Creating Training Plans & Peer Training
Students will explore common struggles of canine adolescence and learn how to develop a training plan to effectively change behaviour. Early signs to recognize problems, and factors at play when disqualifying a dog in training from service work. This class will also be used to assess teaching techniques to groups and individuals. As part of the course, students will provide group and private training session to 1st year students.
CNST 220 Intro to Dog Selection, Breeding & Whelping
This course introduces students to the selection of dogs for various roles based on skills, biddability, health, breed characteristics, genetics, and building a breeding program. Additionally, students will learn how to assess puppies for service dog work, if coming from lines that have not been purpose bred for service dog work. The course continues into the dog breeding process and materials & methodology for whelping. Students will visit dog breeders in association as part of this class.
CNST 221 Roles of Therapy & Facility Dogs, and Introduction to Assistance Dog Laws
This course investigates the role of therapy and facility dogs. Students will explore the emerging role of canine roles in institutions, schools, counselling offices, courthouses and other settings. The second portion of this course explores the current assistance dog-related laws provincially, nationally, and internationally. Topics include the completeness, efficacy, enforceability, consequences, and problematic factors of the current acts & regulations.
Semester 5 (Winter)
CNST 222 Service Dog Client Placement, Processing & Follow Up
This experiential learning experience provides students an opportunity to apply knowledge and skills into practice. Students will be placed with a service dog organization to assist with the spectrum of client services including client application, selection, interviewing, placement, client training and follow-up procedures. With support from the business placement advisor students develop their resumés and job search techniques.


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