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The Hierarchy of Dog Needs (HDN): The “First, Do No Harm” Model of Ethical Training and Dog Welfare—Beyond LIMA

CEUs: PPAB 1.5, PMCT 1.5, CCDPT 1.5, KPA 1.5, IAABC 1.5
The Hierarchy of Dog Needs (HDN): The “First, Do No Harm” Model of Ethical Training and Dog Welfare—Beyond LIMA


March 3, 2024 - March 29, 2027    
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm (ET)


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Webinar Description

An outcry for dog-friendly ethics in training and dog welfare has reached a tipping point, ready to embrace a new paradigm to replace the self-described Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive (LIMA) model. Learn how we got here and how we can evolve, through a history from the Hippocratic Oath to the founding of the Pet Professional Guild (2012), the Phantom of the Operant (Hale, 2020), and the AVSAB Position Statement on Humane Dog Training (2021).

Behavior is either an expression of joy, or an expression of an unmet need. This presentation illustrates how meeting our dogs’ needs solves behavior problems with what appears to be a simple yet eloquent solution. It feels like magic but it’s pure science. In addition, excellent inhibitory control may be achieved using the Hierarchy of Dog Needs methods detailed in the “Meeting Training Needs Force-free” methods list, completely avoiding the purposeful use of punitive consequences for undesirable behavior

The Hierarchy of Dog Needs (HDN) (2015-24), an adaptation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, (1943) designed for dogs, is a groundbreaking dog welfare teaching tool— a model of Standards of Care and Best Do No Harm/Force Free Training Practices, embedded with an ethical code. It creates a bridge between “First, Do No Harm” learning principles and methods of training with everyday practice providing a scientifically endorsed and practical alternative to the LIMA model of dog training. The HDN closes the door on cavalierly using punitive and aversive methods to train dogs, including working and herding breeds. There is “a mountain” of scientific evidence in our scholarly literature demonstrating that shock, pain and fear are a cause, not a cure for aggression and aberrant behavior (Overall, 2013.)


Learning Objectives

  • Explore the easy-to-understand and easy-to-use Hierarchy of Dog Needs model, and learn why it is the Do No Harm/Force-free alternative to the outdated LIMA model.
  • Take a journey through the history of dog welfare and training that has led us here, and to the “First, Do No Harm” movement.
  • Understand why the Hierarchy of Dog Needs a good fit for today, and where LIMA falls short.
  • Learn how meeting a dog’s needs in most cases effectively solves behavior problems.
  • Defining success in training as dog-centered, Physical and Emotional Wellness, and Relationship, as opposed to compliance using pain devices and dominance.

Your Presenter – Linda Michaels, MA.


Linda Michaels, M.A., Psychology, author of the ground-breaking, best-seller, The Do No Harm Dog Training and Behavior Handbook: Featuring the Hierarchy of Dog Needs is the founder of the “First, Do No Harm” approach in dog training.

Linda is considered one of the modern-era trailblazing experts and influencers in canine behavior consulting and animal welfare advocacy. Her internationally acclaimed Hierarchy of Dog Needs, now translated into 14 languages, is endorsed by canine scientists and ethologists as well as trainers, new and seasoned, and is available free as a teaching tool. The first 100 pages of her book are devoted entirely to detailing each item on the Hierarchy of Dog Needs and are fully referenced. The Hierarchy of Dog Needs offers a clear Do No Harm alternative to the widely used but outdated, extant teaching paradigms. Linda is a sought-after speaker, writer and presenter and founded the wildly popular Do No Harm Dog Training Facebook group recently launched the swag store.

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