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Course Update - online learning

Animal Osteopathy International has taken its courses online, with mixed modality learning for those who want to attain full certification (which is required to practice safely). Final year osteopathy students may apply (starting from the end of Yr3). Level One offers the student an excellent base upon which to start a career in animal osteopathy and Level Two extends the student’s specialist learning to a place of clinical competence, as would be acceptable for clinical practice. 

Animal Osteopathy Courses

ESO Internally Validated Animal Osteopathy Courses

We are proud to be working in association with Animal Osteopathy International to provide an exciting programme of high quality animal courses*. These ESO-validated canine and equine courses are designed and led by Dustie Houchin, the ESO’s Animal Osteopathy Consultant and a highly respected member of our international faculty; Dustie has over 20 years’ experience as an animal osteopath and has been instrumental in the development of the profession.

AOI’s Academic Pathway is formed over three levels. Functional Osteopathy for the Canine/Equine Patient (Level One) is the first of these three levels and canine and equine pathways are taught separately. The information below is intended to give an overview of the foundation level and to illustrate how students may progresses. For the full range of animal courses and course dates please visit the AOI website.

“The learning journey was designed to give students an opportunity to experience the basis of animal osteopathy, before entering into an extensive and expensive field of study. In today’s uncertain climate, we believed such an approach would be desirable, whilst demonstrating that the AOI wants what is right for its students.”
Dustie and Eleanor, Animal Osteopathy International

Functional Osteopathy for the Canine/Equine Patient (Level One)

The online component of the Level One programme has been designed in such a way that students can study at a pace that suits them. Typically, we would expect that the online aspect of the course would be completed within 8 months. However, the full programme (including the practicum) may require 12-18 months, due to the cost and time implications of getting to the UK for practical clinics. We try to encourage students to stay in line with their starting cohort, so they don’t feel alone in their student journey and friends can be made long before they arrive at the practicum. However, 24 months is given, from start to finish, to allow for life events and challenges along the way.

During Functional Osteopathy for the Canine/Equine Patient (Level One), it is AOI’s intention to provide students with a solid theoretical and clinical foundation of education, which will allow them to work with canine/equine patients. We make them aware of UK laws and the politics and regulations surrounding the profession. We also highlight to international students, the need to research the regulations and laws within their own country. In addition, we will discuss the health and safety implications of working with dogs and during practicums in the UK, we will expect students to adhere to these expectations. They will learn the core skills of functional canine anatomy and skeletal assessment, alongside the biomechanics of movement, and common orthopaedic conditions. Furthermore, they will be taught active and passive examination of the canine patient in a way that is safe and effective, ensuring that they do no harm when working within their scope of practice.

This course is intended as a stepping stone to further education in the field. As such, we actively encourage students of Functional Osteopathy for the Canine/Equine Patient (Level One) to treat dogs that are known to be happy and healthy (and without any physical sign of sickness or disease). They are also advised to work under the guidance of a veterinary surgeon or a more experienced practitioner at all times. This is because the level of differential considerations taught and discussed at this level of learning, are not adequate to identify the more challenging orthopaedic, neurological or pathological conditions without direct support from another professional. We make this explicit on our website and throughout the admissions and learning process.

As the programme is taught at academic level 5-7, it is important that our students understand the process of clinical and critical reflection. We encourage them toward autonomous decision making, because of the nature of their chosen profession. This is because animal therapists typically work alone and must be able to review, reflect and amend any clinical challenges that they face throughout their career. They must also learn to build a professional network from where they can gain support and initiate referrals.

Functional Osteopathy for the Canine/Equine Patient (Level One) will equip the student with the knowledge and skills they need to work safely and competently with canine/equine patients who present with common day to day maladies and to communicate with veterinary professionals and within the boundaries of UK law. It is not intended to produce fully autonomous practitioners who treat complex cases, but rather practitioners who are safe to work on happy, healthy dogs for maintenance care and who will refer complex cases to a more senior colleague.

From an academic perspective, Functional Osteopathy for the Canine/Equine Patient (Level One) can be completed within a full-academic year. As such, we have attributed 300 hours for the Total Qualification Time.

Functional Osteopathy for the Canine/Equine Patient (Level One) creates a solid foundation for the student’s learning journey, as they pass through the levels of the Academic Pathway. Students who graduate from Level One will be able to continue their studies with AOI’s Canine/Equine Level Two Pathway (which instils and cements clinical competence and safe practice in complex cases).

Pathway options

Level One can be studied by two main routes (see below for detail on each pathway):

  1.  Masterclass Pathway – £1999* (inc. 3-day practicum)
  2.  Online Enhanced Interactive Pathway Plus £1399* + £750* (for a 3-day practicum)

* Plus, local taxes where applicable. Flexible payments are available.

The two main options available for the Level One programme:

  1. Masterclass Pathway (MCP): This option includes 16 online units, access to our online community to communicate with fellow students, 6 on-demand webinars, live student support throughout the course and 3 (or 4) days of practical clinic in the South of England. Private tuition is also available upon request (fees apply). The MCP is the programme best suited to human osteopaths or physiotherapists, chiropractors and vets. It is also suitable for professionally trained canine bodywork therapists (such as those qualified to a high standard with Equinology Inc. via their Equinology/Caninology pathway). Other animal practitioners are all considered on a case-by-case basis, when we evaluate both qualifications and experience.
  2. Online Enhanced Interaction Pathway PLUS practicum (OEI Plus) – This option is new for those who are concerned about COVID and spending a lot of money on travelling when the world is so hard to navigate. We are allowing students who would ideally like to attend the MCP in full, to join as an OEI Plus pathway student, with the full intention of joining a practicum once travel is easier. Students should explain on their application form, that whilst they wish only to purchase the OEI Pathway in the first instance, they fully intend to purchase and attend a practicum session within 24 months of their start date (extensions will be given if marked COVID travel restrictions remain). Teaching and learning aspects of this option are exactly the same as the MCP.

Practical requirements for Level One

The Masterclass Path (Level One) practicum is run for 4 consecutive days at a time, to reduce the expense of travel and accommodation for students and staff. The format of which will be as follows:

  • Day 0: This day will be requested of any student who does not come from an osteopathic background (although osteopathic practitioners may attend if they wish). Day 0 is at the discretion of the AOI and if you are asked to attend, it will be part of the qualifying criteria
  • Day 1: Forelimb, hindlimb and spinal palpation, active and passive assessment, and gait assessment,
  • Day 2: Application of soft tissue, stretching and articulation techniques to the spine and limbs,
  • Day 3: Teaching/demo clinic to enhance understanding. Osteopathic case discussion. Practical student assessment and clinical viva.

Student Applicant Characteristics:

It is intended that this course will be of interest and open to the following groups of professional students:

  • Veterinarians,
  • Veterinarian Nurses,
  • Osteopaths,
  • Animal Osteopaths – who may only have taken the equine/canine pathway to date,
  • Physiotherapists,
  • Veterinary physiotherapists – some will enter via a conversion course,
  • Canine/Equine bodywork/sports therapists who can demonstrate level 4-5 skills and a degree of clinical competence and professionalism,
  • Canine hydro therapists (NARCH registered),
  • Chiropractors or veterinary chiropractors– some will enter via a conversion course,
  • Osteopathic students from year 3 above (this is based on the UK’s full-time model). However, it is essential that any student, osteopathic or otherwise, think carefully about a dual pathway. Studying in this way is not easy and is recommended only for those with the time and academic ability to do so.


Students who graduate from Level One will be able to continue their studies with AOI’s Canine/Equine Level Two Pathway (which instils and cements clinical competence and safe practice in complex cases):-

Level Two is split into two clear sections:

  1. Level Two Compulsory Modules
  2. Level Two Advanced Modules


Level Two Compulsory Modules Comprise:

Module 1: Osteopathic Concepts & Philosophies

Module 2: The Canine Limbs

Module 3: The Canine Spine

Module 4: GHS and Functional Neurology

Module 5: Balanced Ligamentous and Tissue Tension

Module 6: Veterinary Approach to Canine Conditions with Osteopathic Considerations.

Module 7: Clinic Competence and Professional Practice.


Level Two Advanced Modules Comprise:

Module 8: Mobilisations, adjustments and toggles

Module 9: The Canine Head (including TMJ & hyoid)

Module 10: Biodynamic & Biomechanical Cranial Approaches to the Canine Patient 

Module 11: Visceral Considerations Part I: Respiratory and Cardiovascular

Module 12: Visceral Considerations Part II: Digestive System

Module 13: Visceral Considerations Part III: Endocrine and Urogenital System

Module 14: Advanced Clinic Competence and Professional Practice.


Once completion of Level Two has been successfully achieved, students can go on to Level Three, AOI’s Elective Modules and CPD events, which includes research opportunities (as applicable to the student’s chosen pathway).

Whilst Animal Osteopathy International is committed to provide the highest quality of animal osteopathic training possible, they also like to assure their students that the courses they provide are robust.

Animal Osteopathy International and the European School of Osteopathy we have had an excellent working relationship for many years.

Today, The European School of Osteopathy validates AOI’s Academic Pathway. This means that successful students completing Level One through Three, will be awarded an ESO Certificate, Diploma or Advanced Diploma (as applicable). A Quality Assurance Mediator is also invited to attend AOI practical assessments and is asked to review course documentation and assessments, to offer transparency.

Regulations worldwide around the profession of animal therapeutics varies dramatically. As a result, Animal Osteopathy International has devised a way to overcome some of the challenges linked to the use of the title Osteopath and Osteopathy. This has been achieved, by awarding certificates that use the term Functional Osteopathy, and informing all students that unless they are entitled to use the title Osteopath in their country, they should call themself a Canine or Equine Functional Practitioner. This helps to overcome the challenges linked to a profession that is still very young and developing.

Almost all AOI courses have an online element, so they are open for enrolment all year round. The only restriction is the number of people joining the International Academic Pathway (Canine or Equine Level One); this is to manage practicum class numbers and to ensure high quality practical classes. Consequently, each Level One course has a maximum of 36 students each year (36 on the Canine pathway and 36 on the Equine pathway). Please contact the AOI team for availability.

Level Two modules can be taken as the practitioner requires and the L2 practicums are delivered twice a year to support these students. At present, we are allowing students to study Modules 1-3 (L2) before attending a practicum, as this saves on travel and costs, and therefore our carbon footprint.

More detailed information can be found on the Animal Osteopathy International website.  For general enquiries please contact the ESO’s Postgraduate team at

New Courses

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*All animal treatment requires prior consent from the animal’s vet and practitioners must work within their scope of practice. Due to higher running costs, all animal courses are subject to sufficient delegate bookings, as such we recommend that no flights or hotels are booked before final confirmation has been received.