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University of the Pacific's Animal Shelter

Behavioral Management Certificate Course

Course description: Comprehensive behavior programs are essential to keep the animals behaviorally and emotionally healthy during their stay. This 8-week certificate course will give you the knowledge and skills to develop an effective behavior program aimed at improving the welfare of the animals in your care. 
Course dates

Next session starts May 20, 2024 

This is a completely online self-guided course.  Each week will cover a different subject matter.  You will have weekly assignments to complete to pass the course and earn a certificate.  Estimated time commitment is 6-8 hours per week.


Who will benefit from this program?
  • Anyone currently affiliated with an animal shelter or rescue organization who wants to learn more about animal behavior as it relates to the shelter/foster environment. 

  • Anyone who wants to improve the emotional wellbeing of the animals in shelter or rescue care.

  • Anyone seeking a behavior specialist position with an animal shelter or rescue organization.


Learning objectives
  • Gain knowledge on how to read dog and cat animal body language and signaling

  • Learn techniques for safe, humane handling of the animals

  • Understand how the shelter environment effects the emotional wellbeing of the animals and how to use stress reduction techniques to improve welfare

  • Gain knowledge on how to keep the animals physically, mentally, and socially stimulated through shelter-wide enrichment programs

  • Understand the value of effective canine and feline behavior assessments

  • Obtain the knowledge and skills needed to implement training and behavior modification techniques to improve the behavior and emotional state of the shelter animals

  • Obtain skills needed to ensure quality customer service for adoption counseling and follow-up as well as supporting foster caregivers with animals in their care.


Course structure

Online course – work at your own pace

  • Weekly recorded lecture given by instructor Kelley Bollen 

  • Weekly reading and viewing assignments 

  • Weekly writing assignments

  • Weekly discussion forums

  • Four live Q&A sessions with instructor Kelley Bollen 


  • Reading cat and dog body language and safe humane handling

  • Stress recognition and reduction for shelter cats and dogs

  • Enrichment for shelter cats and dogs

  • Understanding aggressive behavior in the domestic dog

  • Feline and canine behavior assessments

  • How animals learn and training cats and dogs in the shelter

  • Behavior modification in the shelter

  • Adoptions and Surrenders


Must be currently affiliated with an animal shelter or rescue organization as a staff member or volunteer. No behavioral degrees or certifications required.

Scholarship:  Scholarship application period ended for this session.

A limited number of scholarships are offered each session. The scholarship covers the full price of tuition. Please email the instructor Kelley Bollen at the below email to inquire about a scholarship. 

Instructor: Kelley Bollen, MS, CABC – (email with questions)

Credits, course code, cost

  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 

    • CAWA - 4.8 CEUs

    • CCPDT - 4 CEUs for Trainers & 12 CEUs for Behavior Consultants

    • IAABC - 16 CEUs

  • Course Code: UNSM 050

  • Certificate Price: $429

Course Registrants: You will receive your University of the Pacific log-in information the Friday before the session starts.



“I would highly recommend Kelley Bollen's Shelter Behavior course to anyone working in the animal sheltering field. I learned more about animal behavior in shelters from this course than I had from 30 years of working in animal shelters.  The material is based on science, well presented, concise and easy to understand. This course will inspire and challenge you to do better for them.” 


—  Belinda Bell, Director of Animal Care, LifeLine Animal Project, Fulton County Animal Services, Atlanta, GA  

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