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Unit information: Unit 5: Case studies in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Unit 5: Case studies
Unit code VETS10011
Credit points 40
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Casey
Open unit status Not open

The five units of this course will run in sequential order. Students must achieve a minimum of 40% overall for assessments on the study skills unit (Unit1) before attending subsequent units (no compensation).

Students must achieve a minimum of 40% on Units 2 and 3 prior to progressing to Units 4 and 5. Students must achieve a minimum of 40% on Unit 4 before commencing Unit 5.

Students failing to achieve 40% in units 2-5 will be given the option of resitting the unit before the start of the subsequent unit, or the end of the academic year.

  • Unit 1: Study skills
  • Unit 2: Ethology, genetics and the development of behaviour
  • Unit 3: Understanding learning theory and its application to behaviour modification and training
  • Unit 4: Stress, welfare and the influence of disease and diet on behaviour


School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Using a series of case examples presented by tutors, this unit brings together the knowledge gained by students in the pre-requisite units, and enables them to formulate approaches to assessing and rehabilitating animals showing a range of undesired behaviours. The unit includes emphasis on a team approach to animals with behaviour problems, and gives students the opportunity to develop related communication skills in a supported environment. The ability to evaluate where clinical animal behaviourists or veterinary surgeons are needed for individual assessment or treatment of animals is discussed, for example through discussion of the types of cases where pharmacological support is likely to be required. The unit also enables students to develop skills relevant to each stage of the rehoming process, from obtaining information from relinquishing owners and assessing an individual animal’s behaviour, through deciding the best course of action for each individual animal. Matching animals to the most appropriate new homes and supporting adopters after homing is also discussed. The aims of this unit are:

  • To consolidate the knowledge acquired in pre-requisite units and apply this to a range of situations typical of the work environment, using a problem solving case based approach
  • To develop students skills in evaluating and interpreting available information and formulating an appropriate and evidence based approach to individual cases
  • To develop students’ ability to communicate their knowledge to a range of audiences, including veterinary professionals and adopting owners

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles underlying the development of individual undesired behaviours in companion animals
  • Show an ability to apply the basic principles of behaviour modification when dealing with animals showing undesired behaviours
  • Approach case based problems in a logical, reasoned and professional manner
  • Assess the physical and management requirements of animals entering a re-homing centre environment
  • Demonstrate effective oral communication skills appropriate to a range of different situations, such as obtaining information from relinquishing owners, or discussing rehabilitation options with veterinary surgeons
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate in writing to both colleagues, veterinary surgeons and members of the public regarding behavioural rehabilitation, for example when developing a rehabilitation programme for a homed companion animal showing unwanted behaviour
  • Assess and deal competently with companion animals showing a range of potentially problematic behaviours
  • Show early evidence of consolidation of information obtained in earlier units in developing rational management programmes for individual animals

Teaching Information

The unit is made up of 5 days of contact time with students (5 days at University of Bristol, plus 24 hours of tutorial time. The remaining time is in self-directed study and preparation of assessed material. During contact with lecturing staff, teaching methods include formal lectures, however the emphasis is very much on discussion based seminar and tutorial sessions, where material is related to students’ own work-based experiences, and practical sessions where techniques are demonstrated and students are able to develop their skills. Out with the contact periods, students are directed to access materials available on-line, and via existing library resources in order to complete both formative and summative assessments. The distance learning elements of the unit will be facilitated using online materials produced specifically for the students on this course.

As the unit involves a significant proportion of work-based learning, accessible support from tutors and unit organisers will be essential. At the beginning of the course structured access to tutors and unit organisers will be outlined to students. This will specify appropriate means of communication with tutors (e.g. email), in addition to informing the students of how soon they can expect a reply (e.g. 48hrs) and specific times during the week when their tutors will be available (e.g. Monday mornings).

Students will be allocated a personal tutor and pastoral tutor (programme director) at the start of the first unit (Unit1: Study skills).

Assessment Information

Formative assessment

  • Development of treatment protocols for dog owners (2,000 words)
  • Group case studies (presentation)
  • Peer assessment

Summative assessment

  • Portfolio: Case studies (60%) (10,000 words)
  • 30 minute oral exam to assess students understanding of underlying theory and its practical application (40%)

Summative assessments will take place and feedback will be provided prior to the student attending the subsequent unit

Reading and References

  • APBC book of companion animal behaviour. David Appleby (Editor). APBC publication, Worcester, UK
  • Blackwell, E.J., Casey, R.A. and Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2006) Controlled trial of behavioural therapy for separation-related disorders in dogs. Veterinary Record 158, 551-554
  • Casey, R.A., Twells, C. and Blackwell, E.J. (2007) An investigation of the relationship between measures of consistency in owners and the occurrence of ‘behavior problems’ in the domestic dog. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2, 83-84
  • Wells, D.L., Hepper, P.G. (2000) Prevalence of behavior problems reported

by owners of dogs purchased from an animal rescue shelter. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 69, 55-65.

  • Shore, E.R. (2005) Returning a recently adopted companion animal:

adopters’ reasons for and reactions to the failed adoption experience. J. Appl. Anim. Welf. Sci. 8, 187-198

  • Bennett, P.C., Rohlf, V.I. (2007) Owner-companion dog interactions: relationships between demographic variables and potentially problematic

behaviors, training engagement and shared activities. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 102, 65-84