At Pawsitive Experts, our methodology supports a Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive “LIMA” approach to dog training. LIMA is an acronym for the phrase least intrusive, minimally aversive. It requires that all Pawsitive Experts Trainers who use the “Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive” technique are likely to succeed in achieving a training objective. We call this the LIMA Roadmap.
The LIMA Roadmap requires that Trainers work to increase the use of positive reinforcement. LIMA protocols are designed to be maximally humane to the dogs and pet parent who have chosen Pawsitive Experts to be their dog training partner of choice. In order to ensure best practices, all trainers should pursue and maintain competence in dog training, our methodology, and behavior through education, training, or supervised experience, and should not advise on problems outside the recognized boundaries of their competencies, experience and/or Pawsitive Experts policy.
Our methodology, and the LIMA Roadmap guidelines state that positive reinforcement should be the first line of teaching, training and behavior change program considered, and should be applied consistently. Only the learner determines what is reinforcing. It is crucial that the trainer understands and has the ability to appropriately apply this principle. Positive reinforcement is associated with the lowest incidence of aggression, attention seeking, avoidance, and fear in learners.
The trainer is responsible for ensuring the learners success through a consistent, systematic approach that identifies a specific target behavior, the purpose of that behavior, and the consequences that maintain the behavior.
Within the LIMA Roadmap, 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 consultant from adequately reading the animal); increased anxiety and fear; physical harm; a negative association with the pet parent or handler; increased unwanted behavior; and, new, unwanted behaviors.
LIMA Roadmap guidelines require that the trainer always offer the learner as much control and choice as possible. Trainers must follow our methodology to treat each individual of any species with respect and awareness of the learner’s individual nature, preferences, abilities, and needs.
We focus on reinforcing desired behaviors, and always ask the question, “What do you want the animal TO do?” when working through a training or behavior problem. Relying on punishment in training does not answer this question, and therefore offers no acceptable behavior for the animal to learn in place of the unwanted behavior. Punishment should never be the first line of treatment in an intervention, nor should it be a part of the trainer’s training plan. When making training decisions trainers should understand and follow the Humane Hierarchy of Behavior Change – Procedures for Humane and Effective Practices, outlined in the diagrams below.
Classical conditioning involves creating an association between two unrelated stimuli (plural for stimulus). A stimulus is anything that causes a reaction in the learner.
Classical conditioning was discovered and researched by scientist Ivan Pavlov, and you might already know about his famous experiment with dogs, food, and ringing bells. Over time, Pavlov was able to get dogs to salivate and drool when a bell rang. How did he achieve that?
Before you can understand what Pavlov did, you need to understand a little more about stimuli. Stimuli that cause a reaction naturally and automatically are called primary (unconditioned) stimuli. Food and pain are examples of stimuli that cause natural or automatic responses.
Other stimuli – called secondary (conditioned) stimuli – arouse a reaction only after they have been paired with primary stimuli. For example, dogs come running into the kitchen at the sound of the can opener because they have learned that when they hear the can opener, food will soon be given to them.
Now, back to Pavlov and his dogs . . . First, Pavlov presented his dogs with food and observed their reaction. The dogs salivated and drooled when they saw the food. The food was the primary stimulus. Pavlov did not have to teach his dogs to salivate at the sight and smell of their food, it just occurred naturally.
Next, Pavlov began ringing a bell before he presented the food to his dogs. At first, the dogs only salivated when they saw the food (the primary stimulus). After several repetitions of ringing the bell before presenting the food, however, Pavlov’s dogs began to drool upon hearing the bell, before ever seeing or smelling the food. The sound of the bell had become a secondary (conditioned) stimulus.
Similarly, most dogs initially ignore a ringing doorbell. However, for the dogs that experience the arrival of fun guests, the ringing doorbell becomes a conditioned stimulus that means “time to have fun!” These dogs get excited and run to the door when they hear the doorbell chime.
Classical conditioning is similarly at work in Pawsitive Experts Dog Training classes. Later in your training with us, you’ll learn about marking dogs’ desired behaviors with the verbal word “YES”. When the word “YES” is paired with a high-value treat, dogs quickly learn that when they hear the marker word, they earn a tasty treat. The marker word “YES” becomes a conditioned reinforcer.
Operant conditioning forms an association between a behavior and a consequence. Dogs learn, “If I do this in this situation, I will get that.” Operant conditioning forms the foundation of the various dog training techniques Pawsitive Experts Dog Trainers use.
Understanding operant conditioning requires you to learn some new terminology. This terminology feels tricky at first because it gives new, different meanings to common words. The chart below helps to make sense of the terminology.
Using the chart, you can see:
Positive Reinforcement = add something the learner likes
Negative Punishment = remove something the learner likes
Positive Punishment = add something the leaner dislikes
Negative Reinforcement = remove something the learner dislikes
These are the four quadrants of operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a powerful learning tool because:
Reinforcement causes a behavior to be repeated (or increase).
Punishment causes a behavior to not be repeated (or decrease).
Punishment refers to anything that reduces how often a particular
behavior is repeated. In fact, recent scientific research finds that adding
physical or verbal corrections can stop the learning process.
Punishment is a term which means the goal is to decrease a behavior
from repeating. One of the best ways to manage a dog’s unwanted
behavior is to simply ignore it (negative punishment). When a dog is
ignored for displaying unwanted behavior, the dog has missed the
opportunit y to earn a reward. The pet parent (or Dog Trainer) must
redirect the dog, encouraging the dog to perform a wanted behavior for
which the dog will earn a reward!
As dedicated professionals in the field of dog training, we wanted to take a moment to emphasize the importance of using scientific research in our methodology and proper techniques, specifically operant conditioning, when working with your beloved dogs.
Scientific methodology provides us with a structured and evidence-based approach to training. It allows us to understand the underlying principles of canine behavior and effectively modify it in a positive and humane manner. By relying on scientific knowledge, our methodology can ensure that our training methods are not only effective but also respectful of your dog's well-being.
One crucial aspect of scientific methodology is the use of operant conditioning. This powerful technique focuses on reinforcing desired behaviors and minimizing unwanted ones. By following the LIMA Roadmap, rewarding your dog's positive actions and redirecting or ignoring undesirable behaviors, we can shape their behavior in a positive way.
It's important to note that operant conditioning should always be used in a compassionate and responsible manner. We strongly discourage the use of aversive training methods that cause fear, pain, or distress to your dog. Such methods not only harm your dog's well-being but can also damage the trust and bond between you and your furry friend.
As your dedicated trainers, we are committed to employing scientifically sound methods and techniques that prioritize your dog's welfare and happiness. We will guide you through the proper use of operant conditioning, helping you understand how to reinforce positive behaviors and address any behavioral challenges in a compassionate way.
We encourage open communication and invite you to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have. Together, we can create a harmonious and fulfilling relationship between you and your four-legged family member, based on trust, respect, and the proper methodology.
Thank you for choosing Pawsitive Experts as your trusted dog training partner. We look forward to continuing our journey together and witnessing the growth and development of your beloved companion.
Here at Pawsitive Experts we are dedicated to you and your Dog!
The Policies, LIMA Roadmap and scientific research in our methodology are downloadable and we encourage you to read and share the information.
In this no-obligation 30-minute meet and greet, our skilled experts will engage with your furry companion, assess their needs, and create a personalized training approach. Join us for a fun and insightful session that sets the foundation for a paw-some training experience!