The IACP has made clear position statements on important issues affecting dogs and their welfare.
Click on the links (+) below to read the IACP position.
Least Invasive Minimally Aversive (LIMA)
The International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) was founded on the belief that the proper and humane use of effective training tools and techniques creates the most success for each individual dog and owner. The IACP founders built an association where all trainers are welcome, an organization that creates community, allows for collaboration, encourages education, strengthens the relationship between people and their beloved pets, and is inclusive to all tools and methods that enable dogs to lead happy and fulfilling lives.
As is the case in nearly any professional service industry, there is not unanimous agreement across the canine industry on how to best serve our four-legged friends. The IACP believes that professionalism should allow civil discussions of opposing views in the spirit of collaboration and education, keeping the needs of our clients and their dogs at the forefront. Unfortunately, there are organizations in the canine industry that seek to eliminate the use of some effective training tools by redefining Steven Lindsay’s model of Least Invasive Minimally Aversive (LIMA) to fit their organization’s goals.
The IACP recognizes that Steven Lindsay’s original LIMA model does not advocate for the elimination of training tools nor the elimination of any of the four quadrants of operant conditioning theory in dog training. To quote Steven Lindsay in his series, Applied Dog Behavior and Training, “Despite obvious limitations and risks, aversive procedures are a necessary aspect of dog training and behavior-problem solving that cannot be neglected or substituted for (e.g., by drugs) when competent inhibitory control over highly motivated behavior is being established.” Lindsay insists on the thoughtful use of the four quadrants of operant conditioning theory, including both positive and negative punishment.
When training tools designed for humane application have been proficiently applied by professional trainers without causing undue stress, pain, or injury to dogs, those tools should not be unjustly categorized as only affecting behavior change through fear or pain. The IACP cannot, in good conscience, prohibit the use of any tools that facilitate fair and clear communication between the handler and the dog, including tools which naturally use positive punishment and negative reinforcement such as front-clipped body harnesses, head halters, prong collars, electronic collars (e-collars), martingales, and slip collars.
We believe attempting to force all dog trainers to abandon tools that can be used to effectively and humanely improve a dog’s quality of life is irresponsible, unhealthy, and unfair. Limiting the use of such tools will result in the death of countless dogs who are misunderstood, deemed uncontrollable, and eventually incompatible for human companionship. Ethical dog training can, and should, help dogs to learn to respond appropriately to the stress, pressure, and aversion that exists in the real world. There is no common sense or compassion in any movement that takes away an owner’s ability to provide eloquent, competent, and complete communication with their pet.
The IACP encourages our members to be lifelong learners. We recognize that there is always room for continued learning and growth within this industry and that there is no single training plan that works best for all dogs or all people.
We are better together. Through collaboration across methodologies, the IACP works to improve the lives of more dogs and more owners than we would if we chose to exclude or ignore entire segments of the industry and learning theory. The IACP gladly welcomes all canine professionals who strive to keep the dogs and families we impact In Safe Hands.
“Essential” Designation of Canine Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The International Association of Canine Professionals, (IACP) has been working with governments both in the United States and internationally for over 20 years to ensure the safety and well being of all dogs in the care of our members. We have worked tirelessly to create safe and fair business practices to assist our members in reaching the highest standard of animal care. Our members are canine professionals whose areas of expertise include, but are not limited to, Veterinarians, Dog Trainers, Kennel and Daycare Owners, Dog Walkers, Pet Nutrition Suppliers.
As the world is struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many people are looking to their elected officials and leaders for guidance that is clear and precise on how to help stop the spread of this terrible virus, while balancing the needs of their communities. One such need that must be considered is the welfare of pets as we navigate these difficult times. Businesses are at a crossroads as they try to determine when and if they should close their doors or if they should stay open, and this is leading to decisions being made for them by the government in the interest of public safety. The IACP believes it is vital that the services that many of our members perform be declared as essential and that they be allowed to operate, with appropriate infection prevention protocols in place, to serve their communities during this Pandemic.
The IACP has taken steps to increase education and awareness of the best possible procedures in infection prevention protocols, to assist members with limiting possible exposure of COVID-19 to themselves, their staff and the public.
Most people across the United States are now being told to stay home and practice safe measures to help fight COVID-19, by only going out for the supplies and services that are considered essential. This practice needs to be extended to the care of their pets by designating the following providers as essential.
Veterinarians offer essential lifesaving services to all household pets.
Pet Supply stores that offer essential goods for the welfare of all animals including foods that are not available at the grocery stores for animals that have allergies, sensitivities or underlying medical issues.
Boarding, Daycare and Dog Walking services are needed now more than ever as Nurses, Doctors, Police, Paramedics, Military Members and their family as well as all front-line workers are being asked to do everything they can to keep up with the new responsibility they are facing on a daily basis.
Dog Trainers play an important role in the work being done at hospitals and long-term care facilities. The work that goes into training a service dog is extensive and the benefits are felt far and wide. Police will also need to have more and more K9 units at the ready with the unstable situation only getting worse by the day. Many trainers right now are also working to rehabilitate dogs that the courts have deemed necessary and it is vital that these trainers be allowed to continue their work to ensure those animals are not euthanized simply because they were not giving a chance to change.
Shelters workers will become more important as the uncertainty in the economy grows. As more and more people are being laid off or let go from their jobs, it is imperative that these facilities continue to operate. If they are forced to shut down we face a real threat that dogs, cats and other pets will be “dumped” and left to their own resources. This can lead to the spread of disease and create a danger for people. The strain that animal control would be under would be dire if this were to happen and needs to be avoided at all cost.
Governments in many jurisdictions have looked at the best available information and determined the pet care and animal industry as a whole must be allowed to continue to operate in accordance with safe practices of social distancing and best protection measure in place as stated by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. We are asking you to do the same. It is only with the cooperation of government and industry that we will be able to get through this with as little negative consequences as possible.
Our canine professional organization’s Legislative Committee’s look forward to working with you and your staff and invite you to open a dialogue with us on these important matters of mutual concern.
Best Practices for Pet Dog Training Businesses
The IACP Best Practices for Pet Dog Training Businesses (PDTB) is a guidance document containing a comprehensive description on the most important elements of running a pet dog training business. Regardless of the Business size (1 employee or 50+), it is up to the Business owner to decide how each section applies.
- Establishment as a Business
- Management Responsibilities
- Contract Activities
- Dog Trainer Qualifications
- Supplier Evaluation and Control
- Subcontractor Evaluation and Control
It is important to note that some cases, sections or portions of sections may not apply. For example, some businesses may only provide lessons in the client’s home and therefore may not require details surrounding adequate space, exercise, cleaning and sanitizing of areas, etc.
Click here to view the complete document (PDF).
IACP Position on Debarking
A dog that is debarked doesn’t realize it is debarked. Any pleasure it receives from barking is still there although it does keep the noise level down. Those that would prevent this safe, simple and inexpensive operation are perhaps well meaning but they do not understand the canine mind.
A "reason" that has been given for attempted passage of anti-barking laws is that the criminal element may debark so that law officers would not know when they were being attacked. This is a ridiculous statement as the dog will still be able to make a noise albeit not so loud and the criminal element is unlikely to spend money and effort on debarking. Even though debarked, the dog is still able to bark and does so, simply at a lower volume. It is a prime example of the tail wagging the dog.
The International Association of Canine Professionals are well-qualified in all aspects of dogs and their behavior and has taken the position that such laws will present problems to some dog owners and potential annoyance to the general public. Dogs will bark for many reasons. Some are good reasons and some are without reason in our minds. Whatever the reason there is no doubt that continual barking does create public annoyance and can be very disturbing. And, even the best behaved family pet can be a neurotic barker when outside in the yard. With certain breeds it is in their genetic make up. It is possible, through training, to efficaciously teach a dog not to bark and generally speaking that would be preferred over surgical debarking. However, there are so many variables involved in whether or not to debark that the decision is best left in the hands of the dog owner who can make the required decision with the advice of a Qualified Veterinarian and a Dog Trainer.
To restrict the debarking of dogs through government regulations could result in dogs being removed from a family and even euthanized. The IACP is unalterably opposed to these oppressive laws which are based on human emotions and not on canine common sense.
Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation
The International Association of Canine Professionals strongly opposes legislation which discriminates against dogs and their owners by labeling certain dogs as "dangerous" or "vicious" based on breed or phenotype. Breed-specific legislation does not protect communities nor create a more responsible dog owner. Instead it negatively affects many law abiding dog owners and dogs within the targeted breeds.
Breed or breed type is only one factor which determines an individual dog’s temperament. Many other factors also influence behavior. In the case of aggressive acts by dogs, factors may include, but are not limited to: genetic predisposition; irresponsible handling; lack of animal management; general care; improper socialization and training; poor housing conditions; physical ailment, and lack of education and supervision.
A common and serious error in the ‘assumption of risk by breed’ is the inability to identify individual dogs by breed, according to an established breed standard or breed type. Purebred dogs which are registered with national clubs may or may not fit the ideal standard for their breed. As dogs are further distanced from the "ideal" standard by phenotype, especially in mixed breeds, it may become all but impossible for accurate identification.
The vast majority of dogs typically affected by breed-specific legislation are not "dangerous" by any standard. Their physical appearance alone cannot be used as an indicator of an aggressive nature. Breed-specific legislation creates an undue burden on responsible owners of targeted breeds - dogs which are most often not dangerous to their communities.
Enforcing breed-specific laws is extremely difficult. It requires funding which would otherwise be available for the enforcement of more effective laws which target truly dangerous dogs on an individual basis. It is also costly to the court system.
Limiting the risk of dog bites should be the legal responsibility of the dog owner. The IACP believes in the importance of educating owners in the proper selection, care, socialization and training of dogs. We also recognize the importance of teaching the general public, and especially children, in bite prevention skills and techniques.
The IACP supports the creation and enforcement of laws which protect responsible dog owners while at the same time promote the safety of all. We support laws which penalize irresponsible dog owners on an individual basis. Current animal control laws should be enforced. In many communities, laws allow officials to confiscate the individual dog who has proven dangerous. This, along with the education we advocate, will help the public not to simply feel safer, but actually to be safer. A very small minority of dogs pose any significant threat to humans. Dog ownership, on the whole, improves quality of life for countless families.
IACP Position Statement on Training Tools
The International Association of Canine Professionals strongly opposes legislation that bans or limits the humane use of any training tool. It is our conviction that limiting the humane use of training tools would result in a higher incidence of nuisance and dangerous dog behavior, and more dogs being surrendered to already over-burdened public shelters.
Dog training is a very diverse field with a single common thread: communication. Dogs are trained for many different tasks such as assisting the disabled, police work, herding, hunting, protection, competition and companionship. Professional trainers achieve these training goals by using a wide variety of tools to communicate with the dog, both at close range, and over long distances. Done effectively, this communication increases desirable behaviors and reduces the incidence of problem behaviors in dogs.
Any efforts to ban or limit the use of training tools would hinder this communication, and our ability to train dogs would suffer. Working dogs would no longer be able to achieve highly specialized tasks, and families with pet dogs would have fewer options available to correct behavioral problems.
The desired result of any training program is to produce a dog which performs its tasks not only reliably, but with enthusiasm and joy. An experienced, professional trainer is knowledgeable about the tools of their trade, and has been schooled in how best to use them to effectively and humanely communicate with a dog. Training tools, when properly utilized, are safe and humane.
It is broadly acknowledged among canine professionals that any training tool or method, improperly applied, can be abusive. Any person who causes physical injury or emotional trauma, induces behavioral problems, or otherwise harms dogs in a profound and/or lasting manner, is already subject to prosecution under existing local laws.
Trainers who misuse tools, by applying them in an abusive or harmful manner, either through ignorance or malice, are not only acting unlawfully, but will not be successful in maintaining behavioral changes over a period of time. These are the people who will be subjected to criminal prosecution for animal abuse under existing local laws. The IACP fully supports the enforcement of such laws, and the prosecution of these individuals.
The IACP advocates the education of canine professionals and the public in the correct, humane use of all training tools. The benefit to the community is a reduction of problem behaviors, and enhanced relationships with dogs as companions, assistants and working partners – a relationship which has been enjoyed by dogs and mankind for thousands of years.
IACP Position Statement on Mandatory Sterilization of Dogs
The International Association of Canine Professionals strongly opposes legislation which mandates the sterilization of dogs. It is our conviction that the decisions involved regarding the breeding of dogs should be left in the hands of owners, and should not be regulated by government entities.
Sterilization procedures are major medical operations which may threaten the health, development and temperaments of dogs(i). No surgery is free of risks. The IACP believes that the decision to subject an animal to such procedures should remain the responsibility of the dog owner and veterinarian, and that government mandates are an intrusion upon this relationship.
Some legislative proposals would require the sterilization of dogs before physical maturity. Several studies show that juvenile sterilization causes skeletal and muscular development anomalies, increased aggression and sexual behavior, increased risk of certain cancers, and also removes animals from the gene pool well before their temperaments and abilities can be assessed(ii). Sterilization can also adversely affect training and performance(iii). The IACP is strongly opposed to juvenile sterilization mandates.
Mandatory sterilization laws are generally proposed with the stated goal of reducing shelter populations. However, shelter population studies show that far more dogs are surrendered to shelters for reasons other than the inability of breeders to find homes for new litters. In fact, the majority of shelter surrenders are due to owners relocating to housing which does not allow dogs, adolescent dogs engaging in inappropriate behaviors, illness (of either animals or owners), and owners’ inability to bear maintenance costs(iv).
Animal shelter populations and euthanasia rates have been declining in recent years to the degree that many shelters are experiencing a shortage of mixed-breed, adoptable puppies and small adult dogs. As a result, some shelters are importing dogs from other states and even other countries(v). This practice raises issues of marketplace competition with private, local breeders -- issues which previously have not been a consideration the operation of animal shelters, and would not be emerging if there were not enough homes for dogs suitable for placement.
The canine genome is incredibly diverse and complex, capable of producing dogs of many sizes, shapes, colors, temperaments and physical abilities. Careful, selective breeding has produced hundreds of varieties of dogs suitable for companionship and partnership throughout the long history of the domesticated dog by narrowing genetic traits. Yet, a certain level of diversity must be maintained within each breed to ensure genetic fitness. Mandatory sterilization policies threaten to eliminate a large number of individuals from the gene pool before their potential and suitability for breeding has been realized, thus reducing the gene pool to dangerously low levels.
In consideration of these and other facts, the IACP believes that the issue of animal shelter populations is complex and cannot be addressed adequately by government mandates. The IACP believes these issues are better addressed by educating dog owners and canine professionals, providing access to low- or no-cost sterilization programs, and promoting responsible and ethical breeding practices through individual breed clubs and organizations.
(i) Sanborn, Laura J.: Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs. (Citations included in article)
(ii) Chris Zink, DVM, PhD.: Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete, © 2005. Dawn M. Cooley, Benjamin C. Beranek, Deborah L. Schlittler, Nita W. Glickman, Lawrence T. Glickman and David J. Waters. Endogonous Gonadal Hormone Exposure and Bone Sarcoma Risk, Departments of Veterinary Clinical Sciences [D. M. C., B. C. B., D. L. S., D. J. W.] and Veterinary Pathobiology [N. W. G., L. T. G.], Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, and the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, Seattle, Washington 98125 [D. M. C., D. J. W.]
(iii) Whitney, Leon F., DVM. Dog Psychology, The Basic of Dog Training. 15th ed. New York: Howell House, Inc., 1989, pp.160-162.
(iv) National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy: The Top Ten Reasons for Pet Relinquishment to Shelters in the United States: http://petpopulation.org/topten.html
(v) Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, Center for Animals and Public Policy: The Animal Policy Report, March 2000.
National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy: http://petpopulation.org
National Animal Interest Alliance: http://www.naiaonline.org/articles/archives/redefining.htm
IACP Position Statement Regarding Service Dogs
The IACP supports public access and proper training for service dogs. The service dog must be able to mitigate the symptoms in the person with the disability and to reflect the proper standards of behavior. Any service dog or any service dog in training that does not reflect proper standards of behavior should be asked to leave the public environment. Trainers should be sure the dog can meet the standards of behavior before taking the dog into public access areas.
The mission of a trained service animal is to help its handler accomplish activities of daily living (ADL’s) and is specially trained to assist a person with a disability. These animals are defined as dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses. The public access of these animals in the United States is covered by the American with Disabilities Act and is guided by standards of behavior for service animals.
These standards of behavior insure the animal is under control and calm while working:
- Obedience trained (beyond Basic Obedience)
- Responsive to first commands of handler
- Should not eat off the floor
- Ignores other animals, people, food (unless scenting for allergies), and objects
- No aggression such as lunging, growling, snapping, biting, or posturing, showing teeth
- Clean and well-groomed
- No jumping, licking, or approaching other people
- Able to maintain composure despite multiple distractions
- Must have 4 paws on the floor unless completing specific tasks to aid handler
Service Animals in training are being educated to provide tasks for people with disabilities or ailments. These animals do not have access into public areas under the federal regulations addressing ADA. However, most states have laws permitting these animals access into public areas. Check with your own state legislation for more information.
Emotional Support Animals have the sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being. These animals do not have public access under the DOJ CFR for ADA access, but can be approved for housing by following guidelines per Housing and Urban Development and on air flights by adherence to guidelines per Federal Aviation Association.
International Association of Canine Professionals Position Statement on Counterfeit Service Dogs*
1. made in exact imitation of something valuable with the intention to deceive or defraud.
The International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) is a premier association pertaining to dog care and training. Founded in 1999, the IACP was established to develop and promote the highest standards of professional and business practice among canine professionals. A worldwide membership of many of the most respected and experienced dog professionals from all facets of the industry makes up its membership. The IACP encourages governments, provincial, state and federal agencies to contact the IACP Service Dog Committee (IACP SD Committee) when considering legislation.
With the proliferation of service dogs and their proven value in assisting persons with physical and mental impairments such as post-traumatic stress, diabetics, deafness, blindness, autism, etc. also comes the predictable plethora of unscrupulous trainers and suppliers of “fake” service dogs and service dog supplies. The IACP has taken a professional position on this growing problem and strongly opposes the counterfeit use of service dogs (SDs). The IACP encourages the use of valid service dogs within guidelines of accepted uses.
The IACP is the first association to address the subject from all aspects; the user, the trainer and the public. This group is called the IACP Service Dog Committee. It is concerned about worldwide reports of misuse and misrepresentation as well as more positive and innovative development of these valuable animals.
Industries exposed to these animals have rights and interests that must be considered as do the handlers and trainers. Airlines, hotels, schools, hospitals and retail operations need and want to accept the trained SD but have trouble distinguishing between the legitimate and the counterfeit (fake) SD. The IACP SD Committee has developed working standards for the training and use of SDs. The committee has developed education packets for businesses and public entities to use to train their employees regarding interactions with persons who utilize SDs. There is also SD information for the public. Both of these are available online at http://www.canineprofessionals.com/service-dogs
The IACP SD Committee has formulated a service dog trainer certification with to objective of credentialing experienced service dog trainers. Members and non-members of the IACP are encouraged to contact the committee at SDcmte@canineprofessionals.com for information on training and use of these canines.
*Outside the USA, the term Assistance or Disability Assistance Dog is synonymous with Service Dog.
For more information: http://www.canineprofessionals.com/service-dogs
IACP Position on Puppy Mills
The International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) opposes mass commercial breeding of puppies (“puppy mills/farms”), where profit is given priority over the well being of the dogs. These commercial breeding facilities where dogs are mass-produced in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions continue to exist, at least in part, because of the sale of dogs in pet stores.
“Puppy mills/farms”, are large-scale breeding facilities that do not encourage proper health, husbandry, socialization, or veterinary care and dogs are maintained in conditions regarded as inhumane. These operations have historically shown a lack of knowledge of proper breeding practices to avoid perpetuating genetic diseases; and the practice of safe and healthy breeding practices. Adults and puppies kept in these facilities often suffer from lack of social skills, proper socialization and neglect of emotional needs that can lead to ongoing behavioral and health issues.
The IACP seeks to promote awareness of the plight of dogs in “puppy mills/farms”, and encourages consumers to become educated about where dogs come from and strongly suggest that consumers perform due diligence in their source selection and work with reputable breeders, shelters and rescues when seeking to purchase a dog.