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LIMA requires trainers/consultants to work to increase the use of positive reinforcement and eliminate the use of punishment when working with animal and human clients. In order to ensure best practices, consultants should pursue and maintain competence in animal behavior consulting and training through continuing education, and hands-on experience. Trainers/consultants should not advise on problems outside the recognized boundaries of their competencies and experience.
We seek to prevent the abuses and potential repercussions of inappropriate, poorly applied, and inhumane uses of punishment and of overly-restrictive management and confinement strategies. The potential effects of punishment can include aggression or counter-aggression; suppressed behavior (preventing the trainer/consultant from adequately reading the animal); increased anxiety and fear; physical harm; a negative association with the owner or handler; increased unwanted behavior; and, new, unwanted behaviors.
Positive reinforcement should be the first line of teaching, training, and behavior change program considered, and should be applied consistently. Positive reinforcement is associated with the lowest incidence of aggression, attention seeking, avoidance, and fear in learners.
The trainer/consultant is responsible for ensuring learner success through a consistent, systematic approach that identifies a specific target behavior, the purpose of that behavior, and the consequences that maintain the behavior.
For many of us, our first introduction to “training” of animals was steeped in concepts like “dominance” and the “alpha”, which was really parlance for tactics that employed aggression and fear to coerce the kind of compliance we once thought of as “trained”. We quote these words because they are misnomers and were not accurate descriptions of the techniques used.
As with so many other aspects of society, the field of animal training and care has greatly evolved as more and better information has been shared across the internet, and superior techniques have had time to surface. With these improvements, we have been able to better serve and care for our pets, and better integrate pets into families based on their true needs. Each animal has a personality, and that is something we must keep in mind while employing LIMA standards to training and care methods.
In cases where LIMA standards are not applied, not only is the safety and wellbeing of the animal at stake, so too is their trust in humans overall. When a pet “professional” is allowed to engage with an animal without adhering to LIMA standards, serious harm can be done to the ability to further work with that animal. This perpetuates myths and falsehoods about training and care in general, as unscrupulous pet workers will claim to an unfamiliar public that they are following best practices, leaving the burden of legitimacy to fall on true professionals that have not made the mistakes or caused the damage that pet workers not following LIMA standards have left behind.
This can be fixed.
We know that there is a sea of information to wade through, but humans have navigated the oceans for tens of thousands of years, and we are no less capable of doing so today with the vast ocean of information we have to parse through. We address this by providing sturdy and proven information regarding your pet. We insist on LIMA standards for our course content, so you can be confident that you are making the right choices when training or caring for your pet.
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