LIMA Canine Coaching – How It Can Enhance Your Canine, And You!

lima dog training

LIMA canine coaching stands for ‘Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive’ canine coaching. So it’s not a particular methodology or protocol, however quite an over-arching philosophy, which you’ll be able to apply to each coaching scenario. {Many professional} canine trainers, together with all these affiliated with the CCPDT and the APDT, decide to coaching in accordance with LIMA ideas. And whether or not you’re able to make the identical endeavor or not, I feel everybody with a canine ought to take time to find out about what they’re, and the reasoning behind them. As a result of irrespective of how a lot expertise you have already got, can assure they may change how you concentrate on your coaching relationship together with your pup, and your self as a coach.



LIMA is an acronym for ‘least invasive, minimally aversive’. It’s an evidence-based set of canine coaching ideas, which means that each one of them is underpinned by scientific analysis which corroborates their effectiveness. Let’s begin with a have a look at what these two elements imply.

Least invasive

Coaching within the least invasive approach doable is a very attention-grabbing idea, however not one which many people can simply articulate. ‘Invasion’ in canine coaching can imply:

  • Intruding in your canine’s bodily house (for instance pushing their butt down to realize a sit place).
  • Proscribing their freedom to study by making their very own selections (for instance through the use of extreme crating to regulate boisterous conduct, as an alternative of capturing and rewarding calm moments exterior of the crate).
  • And even techniques that overstep their emotional boundaries. A basic instance of that is the long-discredited idea of lowering reactivity by ‘flooding’ them with publicity to the set off.

Minimally aversive

Aversives in canine coaching are a lot simpler to pin down. They’re penalties which make a canine much less prone to repeat the identical conduct. Some coaching instruments are clearly aversive, comparable to electrical shock collars and prong collars. However nearly something that may turn out to be aversive, whether it is misused. Maybe the very best instance is our personal voice. Our voice could be a optimistic reinforcement (for instance when it predicts a deal with), or aversive (for instance an indignant shout).

Aversive coaching strategies work by making the canine’s life worse once they do the ‘fallacious’ factor. And avoiding them isn’t nearly canine welfare, it’s pragmatic too. We all know that stress disrupts and inhibits studying, for a begin. Utilizing aversives in coaching also can give rise to a bunch of unintended penalties, like elevated fearfulness, reactivity, and aggression. So, by adopting the least aversive coaching method doable canines are happier, study quicker, and your coaching efforts are much less prone to backfire.

lima dog training

The humane hierarchy

On the core of LIMA canine coaching is the ‘humane hierarchy’. Principally these are all of the approaches we will use to vary canines’ conduct, organized by how intrusive and aversive they’re. The intention is to hunt an answer from the bottom tier doable, utilizing the least intrusive and aversive strategies to realize your purpose. It’s best to solely escalate to the following tier as soon as the potential for locating an answer from the earlier tier has been utterly exhausted.

The humane hierarchy of the way to vary a canine’s conduct (beginning on the backside) is:

  1. Assessing well being, dietary and bodily components.
  2. Antecedents.
  3. Optimistic reinforcement
  4. Differential reinforcement of other conduct
  5. Detrimental punishment, detrimental reinforcement, or extinction
  6. Optimistic punishment

I keep in mind them in the proper order by saying ‘Always Act Positively, Do Not Punish’ to myself! Now let’s work our approach via them, from the underside up.

1. Addressing well being, dietary and bodily components

In different phrases, altering undesirable conduct ought to begin with a visit to the veterinarian to rule out medical causes, and by their eating regimen and their setting. For instance, a canine who will get up often within the night time and behaves restlessly or asks to go exterior might be experiencing a urinary tract an infection, canine cognitive dysfunction, or the onset of arthritis. Medicines to handle their signs, or environmental adjustments like a extra supportive mattress, are what’s wanted to vary their conduct.

2. Antecedents

Antecedents means ‘issues that come first’. In Pippa’s coaching guides, she often talks about ‘setting the canine as much as succeed’. That is similar to addressing antecedents in LIMA canine coaching. A very good instance is eliminating distractions. In case your canine ignores their recall cue within the canine park, it’s as a result of they haven’t been skilled to reply accurately surrounded by so many distractions. Setting them as much as succeed, or fixing your antecedents, is proofing their recall in a low-distraction setting first, then including greater distractions in a gradual and methodical approach.

One other instance is a canine who barks at individuals passing by your window. Seeing the passer by is the antecedent for the barking. Placing up shutters, blinds or frosted window movie in order that your canine can’t see them will cut back or remove the undesirable barking.

3. Optimistic reinforcement

Optimistic reinforcement means creating an final result for a conduct that will increase the likelihood of the canine doing the identical factor once more. It really works as a result of it makes the canine’s life higher once they make the alternatives we wish. For instance once we introduce a pet to their new crate, we conceal treats in it once they aren’t trying. Then once they discover the crate of their very own accord, they’re met with a scrumptious shock. This makes them extra prone to discover it and spend time in it in future, which is a crucial first step earlier than getting them used to having the door closed, and in the end leaving them shut in. Bear in mind, a key high quality of optimistic reinforcement is that your canine decides what’s reinforcing. There’s no level in you deciding that verbal reward ought to be sufficient. If it isn’t working it is advisable discover one thing genuinely rewarding, like meals, or entry to a favourite toy.

For me, an attention-grabbing and vital high quality of LIMA canine coaching is that we made it practically half approach via the humane hierarchy earlier than we even tried to vary a canine’s conduct by introducing penalties! I feel plenty of us (and I embrace myself in that) are sometimes too fast to imagine that the one technique to change our pet’s conduct is by altering them, and overlook the importance of well being, dietary and bodily components and antecedents first.

4. Differential reinforcement of other conduct

That is all about focussing on what you do need the canine to do, and making it extra rewarding than no matter they’re doing as an alternative.

A very good instance is when a canine learns that it’s rewarding to leap up at individuals’s legs, as a result of individuals responded by greeting and petting him when he was a pet. On this state of affairs, the issue conduct is the leaping up, and the sustaining reinforcer is the optimistic consideration he receives for it. A suitable substitute conduct could be to take a seat in entrance of you with all 4 paws on the bottom when you greet him and pet him. So, let’s put LIMA ideas into motion!

  • First, you’re going to start out rewarding him for stopping in need of you with all 4 paws on the ground when he is available in to say ‘hello’ (reinforcing an appropriate different conduct).
  • And second, you’re going to ‘be a tree’ and cease petting him when he jumps up (eradicating the sustaining reinforcer for leaping up).

For assist with the primary half, check out this text from Pippa about stopping leaping up.

5. Detrimental punishment, detrimental reinforcement, or extinction

These three phrases have related however subtly distinct meanings.

  • Detrimental punishment is if you withdraw one thing your canine enjoys once they do one thing you don’t need them to do, so as to cut back the chance of them doing it once more. For instance, going to the opposite aspect of a pet gate when your pet bites your ankles. Entry to you is a robust reinforcer for puppies, so withdrawing it particularly once they chew decreases the chance of them biting your ankles once more.
  • Detrimental reinforcement means eradicating one thing your canine doesn’t like in the mean time they do the factor you need them to do, in order that they’re extra prone to do it once more in future. The basic instance of that is pushing down on their butt to make them sit, releasing the stress once they sit, and reapplying it in the event that they raise their butt once more. They’ll begin sitting extra so as to keep away from being manhandled.
  • Extinction means eradicating the rewarding results of one thing, in order that the canine turns into much less prone to proceed repeating it.

Why is extinction right here?

Curiously, in strict LIMA phrases, these three approaches all occupy an equal place within the humane hierarchy. I say that is attention-grabbing, as a result of we have a tendency to think about extinction as being extra impartial than the opposite two. For instance ignoring barking in order that your canine stops utilizing it to get consideration. However, counting on extinction additionally has plenty of potential to backfire:

  • Behaviors normally undergo an ‘extinction burst’ earlier than they die out. That is when canines simply strive doing them extra, to realize the identical consequence they used to have. For instance barking extra forcefully to get your consideration.
  • It may be very troublesome to persistently ignore an undesirable conduct. And if you happen to relent, the canine simply learns that they should do extra of it than earlier than to realize the consequence they’re in search of.
  • Urgent one conduct in the direction of extinction can resurrect a unique one. Sticking with our barking instance, your canine will nonetheless need consideration, so they could resume nipping your legs or chewing the desk leg to get it.
  • The method is inevitably complicated and irritating to your canine, who is simply making an attempt to speak (invasion on their psychological wellbeing).

All of which mixes to earn extinction a spot proper up right here within the penultimate tier. In accordance with LIMA ideas, a much less invasive, much less aversive resolution is to anticipate that your canine wants interplay and engagement from you, and provide it earlier than they should ask by barking.

6. Optimistic punishment

Optimistic punishment means making issues worse to your canine once they do one thing undesirable, in order that they’re much less prone to do it once more. Like kicking them once they bark, utilizing a prong collar once they pull on the lead, or activating an electrical shock collar once they ignore their recall cue. It’s the ‘different finish’ of the humane hierarchy. And it’s actually included for completeness, in order that the hierarchy contains all of the strategies which have the impact of adjusting a canine’s conduct. However LIMA ideas are clear: there is no such thing as a justification for ever utilizing this tier. You possibly can’t use the humane hierarchy to justify finally ending up at optimistic punishment. An answer from the decrease tiers does exist, and is extra applicable, in each state of affairs. What’s extra the counter productive and damaging results of optimistic punishment in canine coaching are nicely established.

LIMA is about you too!

Are you used to pondering that canine coaching is about, nicely, your canine? Suppose once more! A core precept of LIMA coaching – and definitely probably the most thought scary for me once I first discovered about it – is the significance of coach competence. This implies:

  • Committing to staying abreast of contemporary coaching analysis.
  • Recognizing that nobody is an knowledgeable on all the things, and you’ve got gaps in your information too.
  • Asking for assist when a coaching drawback is exterior your expertise.

That is vital as a result of once we don’t acknowledge our personal shortcomings, we’re extra prone to assume that probably the most applicable subsequent step in coaching is to maneuver as much as the following tier of the humane hierarchy, and miss a greater resolution from the decrease tiers.

Discovering a LIMA coach compliant coach

Anybody can embrace the LIMA coaching philosophy. I might go as far as to say that everybody shall be made a greater coach for studying about them. They include a lot of meals for thought. The Certification Council for Skilled Canine Trainers (CCPDT) and the APDT each require their members to comply with LIMA ideas. Their web sites have services for trying to find a coach close to you.

It’s all the time value asking a canine coach whether or not they comply with LIMA ideas earlier than you’re employed with them. The time period LIMA has solely turn out to be extensively utilized in canine coaching within the final 5 – 10 years. A canine coach who appears to be like clean when confronted with it has not refreshed their information of coaching finest observe in fairly a while! So who is aware of what else they’ve missed?

LIMA canine coaching – abstract

LIMA coaching imply reaching your canine coaching objectives utilizing the least invasive, minimally aversive strategies doable. Underpinning that is the precept that if a much less invasive, extra minimally aversive method exists, it’s essentially merciless and unjustified to skip over it in favor of a extra invasive and aversive method. The humane hierarchy units out the order potentialities for altering a canine’s conduct ought to be thought of in. A part of being a superb LIMA coach is all the time asking for assist from somebody with extra expertise earlier than you escalate from one degree of the hierarchy to a different.

What do you consider LIMA canine coaching ideas? Tell us within the feedback field down under.

The Labrador Website Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the very best promoting creator of The Glad Pet Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Selecting The Excellent Pet, and Complete Recall.

She can be the founding father of the Gundog Belief and the Dogsnet On-line Coaching Program 

Pippa’s on-line coaching programs had been launched in 2019 and you’ll find the most recent course dates on the Dogsnet web site

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