An open online course delves into the origin of dogs and human–canine interaction

The online course entitled Me and My Dog not only offers an opportunity to learn more about the background and health of our pets, but also to participate in dog research. The course is based on the latest research results of canine genetic and behavioural studies conducted at the University of Helsinki.

The Open University’s new online course, Me and My Dog, explores the canine genome, history, breeds, and behaviour as well as dog–human companionship. 

You can start the online course and proceed independently at your own pace between 2 April and 31 August 2024. The course includes texts, supplementary material and online assignments, and it is free of charge for participants. 

The course welcomes all interested, people with or without a dog of their own. 

The course teacher is Professor Hannes Lohi, who leads the canine genetic research group at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki. He says canine research is experiencing a new renaissance and describes the course as unique and interactive. 

“We wanted to tell dog lovers through words and images what the latest genetic and behavioural research has discovered about the origin, history, breeds, health, personality and behaviour of dogs, without forgetting the relationship between dogs and humans,” explains Lohi. 

Course participants may also order a free or inexpensive gene test for their dog to obtain an in-depth understanding of their dog's genome and learn how it can be used to enhance the health and wellbeing of their pet.

The course also implements citizen science

The participants will answer a survey about their own personality, the personality of their dog and the nature of their relationship. These responses will allow Professor Lohi’s dog research group to collect new and valuable research data.  

“My research group will collect the participants’ responses and make use of this data in future research discoveries. Such surveys provide information about the personalities, behaviour and relationships of pet owners and their pets, and, if we succeed in collecting a large dataset, open up opportunities for interesting new research questions,” asserts Lohi.  

Further information:


Open University´s new course Me and my cat

In this course, we go on a study trip into our own and our cat's personality and behavior in the light of various interactive surveys and the latest scientific information. The course helps you understand your own and your cat's behavior, behavior problems and personality traits and the various environmental factors that affect them. Me and my cat, MOOC, Online teaching 2 cr

Note also the MOOC Assisting Animals as Part of Social and Health Care – Human Animal Cooperation, 2 cr. This course is a joint venture with the University of Turku. 


Open University – Open to new thinking!

Studies offered by the University of Helsinki degree programmes and the Language Centre are available as open university studies for all those interested. 

Each year, the Open University offers over 1,000 courses from all University of Helsinki faculties. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are online courses open to all, with no limitations on the number of participants. You can start and complete a MOOC according to your own schedule. 

At the Open University, you can find your own field, enhance your skills or make your dream about studying come true. Read more and explore the studies on offer: