Dogs Rock! Vermont was founded with one basic idea in mind: Dogs are awesome!
Dogs are our best friends and companions; they sleep in our beds, play with our children, and accompany us in our daily lives. Dogs bond with us, they wiggle their way into our hearts and comfort us during our darkest times. Just like people, all dogs are different! Each dog and situation requires a different approach and individualized attention.
Dogs Rock! Vermont specializes in getting to know each dog one-on-one and catering specifically to their needs. More than anything, Dogs Rock! Vermont knows that dogs are amazing creatures who deserve compassion, empathy and care regardless of unique quirks and naughty habits.
Combining years of professional experience in petting sitting, shelter work, large group day care, facility management and dog training, founder Laurie Lawless combines all of her unique knowledge to now work one-on-one with dogs and their owners to build long-lasting happy relationships!
I am so happy you found my website because to me that means you are looking to better the relationship you have with your dog. Nothing makes me happier. Whether you just became a puppy parent or are experiencing some behavior problems, I am eager to start working with you.
We can’t always understand what dogs are telling us, however science, research and applied behavior analysis has helped professionals world-wide become more aware of why behaviors are happening and how to modify them when needed. Our approach to training has become more compassionate than ever over the last few decades and we are now positioned as professionals (and dog owners) to achieve long-lasting training results through methods not thought possible previously.
My background combines years of professional experience in shelter work, dog daycare, facility management and LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive) based dog training methods. Because of my unique experience-base and skill set of working with thousands of different dogs in various environments, I am able to individualize my training with each one of my clients so they can build long-lasting happy relationships with their dogs. You name it, I guarantee I’ve seen it! The good, the bad and the ugly. Through education, comprehensive training sessions and environmental management, anyone can train their pup to be the perfect loving family member they’ve always wanted.
I hope to hear from you soon!
Laurie Lawless, CPDT-KA
Dogs Rock! Vermont supports a Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) approach to behavior modification and training. The below information is taken from the website of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and is their Position Statement.
What Is LIMA?
LIMA requires that trainers and behavior consultants use the “least intrusive, minimally aversive technique likely to succeed in achieving a training [or behavior change] objective with minimal risk of producing adverse side effects.” It is also a competence criterion, requiring that trainers and behavior consultants be adequately trained and skilled in order to ensure that the least intrusive and aversive procedure is in fact used. 1
LIMA Is Competence-Based
LIMA requires that trainers/behavior consultants work to increase the use of positive reinforcement and lessen the use of punishment in work with companion animals and the humans who care for them. LIMA protocols are designed to be maximally humane to learners of all species. In order to ensure best practices, consultants/trainers should pursue and maintain competence in animal behavior consulting through education, training, or supervised experience, and should not advise on problems outside the recognized boundaries of their competencies and experience.2
Positive Reinforcement and Understanding the Learner
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, and avoidance/fear in learners3.
Only the learner determines what is reinforcing. It is crucial that the consultant/trainer understands and has the ability to appropriately apply this principle. This may mean that handling, petting, various tools and environments are assessed by the handler each time the learner experiences them, and that trainer bias not determine the learner’s experience. The measure of each stimulus is whether the learner’s target behavior is strengthening or weakening, and not the consultant/trainer’s intent or preference.
Clarity and Consistency in Problem Solving
It is the handler’s responsibility to make training and modification of behavior clear, consistent and possible for the learner. We recognize that a variation of learning and behavior change strategies may come into play during a learning/teaching relationship, and can be humane and a least intrusive, effective choice in application. 4 However, ethical use of this variation is always dependent on the consultant/trainer’s ability to adequately problem solve, to understand his or her actions on the learner, and requires sensitivity toward the learner’s experience.
We seek to prevent the abuses and potential repercussions of unnecessary, inappropriate, poorly applied or inhumane uses of punishment. The potential effects of punishment can include aggression or counter-aggression; suppressed behavior (preventing the consultant/trainer from adequately reading the animal); increased anxiety and fear; physical harm; a negative association with the owner or handlers; and increased unwanted behavior, or new unwanted behaviors. 5
Choice and Control for the Learner
LIMA guidelines require that consultants always offer the learner as much control and choice as possible during the learning process, and treat each individual of any species with respect and awareness of the learner’s individual nature and needs.6
What Do You Want the Animal TO do?
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 make up the majority of a behavior modification program. Further, it should be discontinued as quickly as possible once the desired behavior change has taken place. In cases where the application of punishment is considered, best practices of application and next steps can best be determined by understanding and following the Humane Hierarchy of Behavior Change – Procedures for Humane and Effective Practices, outlined in the diagram attached.7
For these reasons, we strongly support the understanding and application of LIMA protocols, and applaud those working with animals and humans in a humane and thoughtful manner.
Suggested Hierarchy of Behavior Change Procedure from Least to Most Intrusive *
Questions? Contact us!