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Animal Assisted Activity

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Dear Prospective Student,

Thank you very much for enquiring about the Animal Assisted Intervention course.

Here is some information on the aim, content and requirements of the course. Should you, however, have more specific questions, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Dr Frederique Hurly at or 083 654 8116.

The content and study material for the original Animal Assisted Activities course was jointly compiled by the late Prof. Johannes Odendaal and Mrs. Hanna Odendaal and is based on Prof. Odendaal’s scientific research on the therapeutic value of the human animal bond. The name of the course has been changed to the Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) course, as the course has been revised to include more than just animal assisted activities. It now contains aspects for animal assisted therapy as well as service animals. Dr Frederique Hurly and practising animal assisted activity helpers will present the course in 2017.

Students who have successfully completed this course can apply for accreditation by the South African Board for Companion Animal Professionals (

What is it about?
The use of animal-assisted activities as a scientific approach is relatively new although historical evidence suggests that individuals have used it intuitively over many centuries. The aim of this course is to equip students with a scientific basis and practical skills to enable them to use animals as an adjunct in the helping relationship. After the course students should be able to design a sustainable AAI program, know how to choose an animal for an AAI program, practice humane education and think of the ethics and values when using animals in programs (to list just a few).

Who should enrol?
The ideal student for this course is a person who has a good understanding and knowledge of animals, especially the species her/she would like to use in AA activities, as well as compassion for help needing humans. Health Care professionals can also benefit from this course, and could use the knowledge from the AAI course to develop an AAT program. You are welcome to contact Dr Hurly first before enrolling, to ensure this course is for you!

Pre-entry requirements
All prospective students for this course must have a thorough knowledge of the behaviour of the species of animal they would prefer to use in future animal assisted interventions (AAI). We therefore recommend that students either before or simultaneously enrol for the Basic Animal Behaviour Course of that species.

How the course is presented
Like the other courses that Ethology Academy presents, the AAI course is essentially presented through distance learning. After enrolment, the student receives the study material and assignments via registered mail. Students are invited to a three – day seminar in Benoni, Gauteng from 12 – 14 June 2017. The seminar is rather interactive, and usually some interesting discussions take place. Students get to meet people who are involved in animal assisted activities and learn from them. Attendance is compulsory. Attendance of the seminar is included in the course fee, but students are responsible for their own accommodation and travel expenditures.

The study material is divided into four Modules:
 The first Module includes:

  • A brief historical overview of animal facilitated therapy
  Personality theories
  Human-animal interaction theories
 The second Module includes:
 Biological background for human-animal interactions
  Physiology of affiliation behaviour
 The third Module: focuses on interpersonal skills and human needs
 The fourth Module: reviews animal-facilitated programmes using different species of animals and provide information to set up your own programme

During the seminar some the course content in the study notes are discussed. However, aspects that are not in the notes are also discussed and include the correlation between animal abuse and human violence, pet selection, empathy, humane education, ethics, pet loss and bereavement and guidelines to set up an AAA program.

Students are expected to submit eight assignments – two on each of the modules. Some of the assignments are fill in with all the answers to be found in the notes, but for a few assignments the student will be expected to do a bit of independent reading and research. Submission of the assignments serves as entrance to the final evaluation. The course is outcome-based in the sense that students do not sit for a formal theoretical exam, but will be evaluated on their ability to apply the knowledge in a ‘real-life’ case study.

In conclusion: Students who have done the course gave very positive feedback not only on the academic side of the course but also about experiencing personal growth and self-awareness through the learning experience.

Academically the content of the course is quite challenging, but keep in mind that students are not evaluated on factual knowledge, but rather on their ability to apply the knowledge. A person who has successfully completed Grade 12 should be able to cope with the course material.

Registration and Course fees
The AAI Course is presented from February to November each year. Registration for this course takes place from 2 January to 28 February 2017. Students may enrol earlier (in 2016) but the study material will only be posted as from the 2nd January 2017 and once proof of payment has been received.

The course fee for 2017 is R 7 950.00. This fee includes the study material, the assignments, seminar attendance and the final evaluation. Travel to and accommodation at the seminar is not included in the course fee. Students who successfully complete the course receive a certificate. Distinctions are awarded to students who pass with a mark of 75% or higher.

How to enrol for this course:
Go to the website
  • Click on ‘Enrol’
  • Read ‘Terms of Agreement
  • Complete and submit the enrolment form and financial agreement form if only the registration fee is paid when enrolling.
  • Pay the appropriate fee
  • Provide Dr Frederique Hurly with confirmation of payment

Please contact us should you need more information or have any uncertainties.

Best regards
Dr Frederique Hurly
(Veterinary behaviour)
Course administrator, Ethology Academy


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