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School of Business & Continuing Studies

Service Dog & Canine Studies Management 

The Service Dog and Canine Studies Management Diploma provides students with both a practical and a theory-based education. The program runs for 18 consecutive months, consisting of four semesters of in-class learning and culminating in an 8-week work term in the final semester. During their first four semesters, students work together and share responsibilities of housing, training, and caring for a group of young service dogs in training for 14 months. Partnering with Canadian service dog organizations, Medicine Hat College provides puppies for student’s experiential learning. Working in groups, students raise the dogs through puppyhood and adolescence, after which the dogs return to organizations for further training before being placed with clients.

The program delves into the use of service dogs to alleviate symptoms of disabilities, outlining the use of and training for hearing, diabetes alert, seizure response, autism assistance, mobility assistance, PTSD, and psychiatric service dogs. Students develop effective and ethical training skills for both canines and humans, emphasizing group work, critical thinking, and empathetic coaching and communication. The curriculum includes studying animal behavior, canine learning theory, and dog training methods supported by leading professionals and governing bodies internationally, including the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. 

Students gain hands-on experience in lab classes, practicing positive reinforcement training skills with the program’s service dogs in training. Business courses in communication, marketing, management, and accounting prepare students for entrepreneurial opportunities. Graduates are equipped for careers such as service dog trainer apprentice, pet dog trainer, kennel manager, and roles in animal shelters. Work-integrated learning opportunities include placements in service dog organizations, shelters, kennels, and other canine-related settings, providing valuable professional experience.

This program is ideal for those who enjoy working with animals and helping people. Join this growing industry and contribute to the world of service dogs.


High School Route

  • ELA 30-1 or ELA 30-2
  • Science 30 or Biology 20
  • One 30-level, 5 credit subject with 50% or better

Mature Student Route (21 years of age or older)

  • ELA 30-1 or ELA 30-2
  • Any 30-level science is recommended
First Year

Fall Semester

  • CNST 110 - Canine Physiology & Care
  • CNST 111 - Puppy Development, Early Foundations & Training
  • CNST 112 - Introduction to Canine Learning Theory & the Human/Dog Connection
  • COMM 140 - Communication in the Workplace
  • MGMT 161 - Management Theory

Winter Semester

  • CNST 114 - Obedience Training for Public Access
  • CNST 120 - Introduction to Dog Selection, Assessment & Breeding
  • CNST 121 - Introduction to Assistance Dog Laws
  • COMM 252 - Advanced Business Communications
  • MTKG 171 - Marketing

Spring Semester

  • ACCT 200 - Introduction to Accounting
  • CNST 113 - Kennel Technologies
  • CNST 215 - Introduction to Canine Career Pathways
  • CNST 216 - Service Dogs Roles & Task Training
  • MGMT 263 - Organizational Behaviour

Second Year

Fall Semester

  • CNST 217 - Client Processing & Dog Matching
  • CNST 218 - Introduction to Disability for Service Dog Providers
  • CNST 219 - Common Behaviour Problems, Creating Training Plans & Peer Training
  • MGMT 270 - The Entrepreneurial Experience
  • MKTG 315 - Science of Persuasion

Winter Semester

  • CNST 222 - Service Dog & Canine Studies Management - Work Term


Program Outcomes
  • 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.

Additional Information

Prior to the first day of classes, students are asked to submit a current Police Information Check (PIC). In order to be considered ‘current’, the PIC must be completed during the three months prior to admission (i.e. June 1 – August 31 for Fall admission). Students are obligated to inform the Program Coordinator immediately of any change in the status of their criminal record.

Many of the courses in this program require a level of familiarity and competency with Microsoft Office suite of computer software. You are advised to enroll in an introductory computer class which includes instruction in commercial business software such as Microsoft Office before beginning this program if your computer skills are limited.

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