Forget the rhinestone collars and pet-i-cures. Show your pooch you really care by taking the time to understand.

Starting this fall, Seneca will be offering its workshop on Understanding Canine Behaviour to the general public out of the Markham campus.

“The program has been offered since 2002 at our King City campus as part of the veterinary technician program,” says Laura Mandell, manager of public affairs and media relations at Seneca. “Traditionally, it was geared to those dealing with canine behaviour at a professional capacity. This year it’s being expanded to dog owners.”

But don’t expect to simply get a few nifty tricks out of your pup. “I am not a dog trainer,” says Kerry Vinson, who has been teaching the course for the past seven years. “This is not about teaching your dog to sit and stand.”

Vinson’s three-hour seminar deals with identifying and solving canine behaviour problems.

“I started doing this because most people are unaware that a large percentage of the total dog population is destroyed because of behaviour problems,” says Vinson. “It’s a real unnecessary loss of life, not to mention a source of grief for many of these dogs’ owners. In the U.S., it’s estimated that one-half of all dogs are euthanized because of their behaviour before they reach the age of two. In my mind, this illustrates how little people know about dog behaviour.”

In the past few years, Vinson’s course has had a steady attendance of more than 40 people, making it impossible to allow students to bring their dogs.

“It would be a bit of anarchy,” says Vinson. “However, at the conclusion of the presentation, there’s an extended question-and-answer period. I don’t want anyone to walk out of there without having their question answered as best I can.”