Hands-on Animal Training

Personnel, who will be in direct contact with animals, require practical training to attain competency in handling, restraining and performing the required animal procedures. Such training is most effective when completed close to the time that the procedures will be performed.

Many of the workshops are offered as a two-step workshop sequence of handling and restraint practices followed by specific procedure techniques. In addition to this, procedure-specific workshops and one-on-one sessions are offered for applied skills and techniques.

All individuals must have completed relevant hands-on training prior to commencement of animal-based work. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure that all personnel listed on an Animal Utilization Protocol are competent and fully versed in all relevant aspects of animal care.


Workshop participants are expected to review material posted on Courselink prior to attending the workshop. Topics include basic biology, husbandry, handling, methodology, and Standard Operating Procedures. Access to the online material will be given following a confirmed registration and will remain as a resource for participants for reference following workshop completion. In addition to study of the online material, most workshops are 3 hours in length.

Below is a brief description of Workshops offered in the Animal User Training Program. Please see our current Workshop and Orientation Schedule for upcoming workshop dates and locations.

Rodent workshops

A series of rodent workshops are offered regularly from September to June and take place in animal facilities. The workshops consist of instruction, interactive discussion, demonstrations, and hands-on practice of technical procedures. At the end of the workshops participants will be evaluated on their skills. If competency has not been developed, further training will be scheduled.


Mouse A/Rat A– Handling and Restraint Workshops

This workshop includes instruction in proper handling and restraint techniques, animal behavior, health assessment, humane euthanasia, necropsy/tissue collection procedures, and safe needle handling.  


Mouse B/Rat B – Procedure Workshops

This workshop has as a focus to practice skills introduced in the Mouse A/Rat A workshops as well as subcutaneous and intraperitoneal injection techniques. Injection techniques and manual dexterity is first practiced with the use of cadavers. Saphenous blood collection will be demonstrated.

Prerequisite – Mouse A/Rat A


Rodent C – Surgery & Post-Operative Care Workshop

This workshop includes technical instruction in basic surgical skills, patient and surgeon preparation procedures, clean surgery setup and management, use of surgical tools, incision opening and closure, perioperative care, and record keeping. Instruction takes place on cadavers only and no live animals are used in this workshop.

Prerequisite - Mouse B/Rat B


Mouse Breeding Colony Techniques Workshop

This workshop includes instruction in management of a breeding colony including breeding schemes, genotyping, identification methods, record keeping, and common breeding and health concerns.

Prerequisite - Mouse A/Rat A


Livestock and Horse Workshops

Farm animal workshops will be held at the relevant research stations and include handling and restraint techniques, basic safety instruction, an introduction to housing and husbandry practices, facility procedures and biosecurity, as well as an introduction to different life stages of the animals.


Cattle, Sheep, Swine and Poultry – Level A Workshops

These workshops include general instruction and discussion of factors to ensure good animal welfare, humane and safe handling practices, health assessment, approaching and moving animals, and physical examination.


Cattle, Sheep, Swine and Poultry – Level B Workshops

These procedure-specific workshops include instruction in common techniques including oral dosing, restraint, subcutaneous and intramuscular injections, blood collection, diagnostic sampling methods, and humane euthanasia.  Instruction in the above and other specialized procedures will be targeted to participants’ current projects. Participants must be named on an Animal Utilization Protocol (AUP) to perform these procedures and to participate in the workshop.

Prerequisite – Level A workshop for same species


Horse Workshop

This workshop includes practice in safe and humane handling and restraint techniques, approaching and working with horses, husbandry, animal behavior, and health and soundness assessment. Administration of substances and blood collection may be demonstrated. The workshop is held at the Ontario Veterinary College or Arkell Research Station.


Fish Workshop

All-day workshop with a lecture portion held on the main campus followed by a hands-on portion held at Alma Aquaculture Research Station. The lecture portion includes instruction on legislation, environmental requirements, biology, nutrition, health and welfare, and common diseases. The hands-on portion focuses on practical skill development in netting, handling and transfer of fish, tagging, anesthesia, humane euthanasia practices, and necropsy. Water management and emergency procedures are discussed.


Mentor-Facilitated Training

For procedure-specific training not covered through regularly scheduled workshops, individuals may be required to complete one-on-one mentor-facilitated training. Qualified instructors assigned to give this training may be principal investigators, veterinarians, senior researchers, experienced technicians, or other personnel with expertise in the species and the methodology. The completed training must be documented by submission of a Certification of Mentor-Facilitated Training Form signed by both the instructor and the trainee.

Please email training@uoguelph.ca if you require training in topics not included in the scheduled workshops.

Refresher Training

Refresher training sessions can be arranged as required and are encouraged for individuals who received training in the past and who wish to regain competency after interruptions in performing certain procedures. Refresher training may also be prompted when lack of competency in an individual is identified by animal health staff or facility management.

Please email training@uoguelph.ca if you are interested in scheduling a refresher training session.

Schedule and Registration

Hands-on workshops are scheduled throughout the year and the Workshop and Orientation Schedule is updated regularly. Please email training@uoguelph.ca for questions regarding sign-up and registration.

Link to registration on Eventlink.

Some opportunity exists for external visitors to participate in the workshops. If you are an individual not affiliated with the University of Guelph and wish to participate in the Animal User Training Program, please email training@uoguelph.ca. University of Guelph affiliated students and researchers take precedence over non-affiliated registrants if available spots are limited.