Dogs 12 months to 17 months can achieve a learner jacket, and learner certificate, this is because they are not fully developed until a minimum of 18 months. They can still attend workplaces with permission but will be "in training" until old enough.
Dogs 18 months and over can achieve full Therapy Dog Jacket and Certificate once they have passed the assessment.
Our courses are open to all professions who have a suitable dog to train with. (Dogs must be at least 12 months old and less than 8 years old to begin the course) Our practicals are based in Benalla.
Dogs must be able to:
K9 Support trainers follow the LIMA method of training. We are not punishment based, nor “one type of training/or punishment fits all” based. All dogs are individuals, and deserve the “Least Invasive Minimally Aversive” type of training.
We assess each dog, and train each dog in a way that suits the individual being.
Being a Government approved Dog Trainer and Assistance Dog Trainer and Assessor I have evidence based training methods, and experience. The dog training industry in Victoria in unregulated with anyone being able to call themselves a Professional Dog Trainer. Always ask for qualifications and proof of such.
Please see the Association of Pet Dog Trainers support for the LIMA method below.
What Do You Want the Animal TO Do?
The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) supports a Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) approach to behaviour modification and training.
What Is LIMA?
LIMA requires that trainers and behaviour consultants use the “least intrusive, minimally aversive technique likely to succeed in achieving a training [or behaviour change] objective with minimal risk of producing adverse side effects.” It is also a competence criterion, requiring that trainers and behaviour consultants be adequately trained and skilled in order to ensure that the least intrusive and aversive procedure is in fact used.
LIMA Is Competence-Based
LIMA requires that trainers/behaviour 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 behaviour consulting through education, training, or supervised experience, and should not advise on problems outside the recognized boundaries of their competencies and experience.
Positive Reinforcement and Understanding the Learner
Positive reinforcement should be the first line of teaching, training and behaviour change program considered, and should be applied consistently. Positive reinforcement is associated with the lowest incidence of aggression, attention seeking, and avoidance/fear in learners.
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 behaviour 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 behaviour clear, consistent and possible for the learner. We recognize that a variation of learning and behaviour change strategies may come into play during a learning/teaching relationship, and can be humane and a least intrusive, effective choice in application. 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 behaviour (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 behaviour, or new unwanted behaviours.
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.
What Do You Want the Animal TO do?
We focus on reinforcing desired behaviours, and always ask the question, “What do you want the animal TO do?” when working through a training or behaviour problem. Relying on punishment in training does not answer this question, and therefore offers no acceptable behaviour for the animal to learn in place of the unwanted behaviour.
Punishment should never be the first line of treatment in an intervention, nor should it make up the majority of a behaviour modification program. Further, it should be discontinued as quickly as possible once the desired behaviour 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 Behaviour Change – Procedures for Humane and Effective Practices, outlined in the diagram attached.
For these reasons, we strongly support the humane and thoughtful application of LIMA protocols, and applaud those working with animals and humans in a humane and thoughtful manner.
Suggested Hierarchy of Behaviour Change Procedures
From Least to Most Intrusive*