Fernandez, E. J. 2024. The least inhibitive, functionally effective (LIFE) model: A new framework for ethical animal training practices. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 71, 63–68.

The ethics of animal training procedures have seen dramatic changes in the last few decades, with a movement toward reward-based training methods. These reward-based training practices have also been directly impacted by the behavioral and animal welfare sciences, including their research outputs. In the last couple of decades, the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) model of animal training has been used to describe reward-based animal training methods. However, a number of problems were built into the creation of LIMA and continue to exist today, including (a) a lack of clarity in its terminology, (b) ambiguity in desired training approaches, and (c) a history of aversive training methods justification. An alternative approach is therefore proposed, and one that specifies (1) increasing choices by inhibiting less, (2) the importance of function, and (3) defining success as more than simply being effective. The result is the least inhibitive, functionally effective (LIFE) approach to ethical animal training methods. LIFE is discussed in terms of its connection to established terminology, behavioral principles, and training practices, as well as its ability to promote optimal welfare for the animals under our care and in our lives.

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