Accessible Version

IAABC Position Statement

The Use of Flooding in Animal Training and Behavior Consulting


The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) strongly opposes the use of flooding in animal training and behavior modification.

We are aware that flooding has gained recent attention on social media. While there is a recent uptick in the visibility of the use of flooding in social media, the use of flooding is a pervasive problem in the industry of animal training and behavior modification.

We are always saddened and disturbed to see flooding used to attempt to change the behavior of any animal. The continued and systematic suppression of an animal’s behavior through flooding also carries risks to human caregivers. The ripple effects of witnessing the trauma of animals via direct experience or via media is significant as well. However, we are heartened to see opposition to flooding by our members, our colleagues, our fellow professional organizations, and the public. We stand together in strong opposition to the use of this method in behavior change interventions when attempting behavior change with any animal.

What is Flooding?

Flooding is defined as the exposure to a fear-inducing stimuli without the possibility to escape. Fear-inducing stimuli are aversive to the learner, meaning that the learner would choose to avoid these stimuli. The use of aversive techniques is punishment and holds no place in behavior modification or animal training

When flooding is used in animal behavior change and training, the learner is not given the choice to engage with the stimulus or stimuli. The removal of the choice to contact the fear-inducing stimuli and the removal of the possibility for intensity-reducing, avoidance, or escape behaviors is frequently coupled with physical restraint and punishment.

Such interventions can cause significant trauma to the animal learner. (Maier, 1976) These methods are accompanied by significant risks not only to the behavioral welfare but also to the physical health of animals subjected to flooding and extreme distress.

Finding Help

The IAABC maintains that the use of flooding is outdated, inhumane, and in direct conflict with our Code of Ethics and the Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) standards put forth by the Joint Standards of Practice.

The IAABC firmly holds that there are alternatives to flooding that humanely and effectively address an animal’s response in the presence of fear-inducing stimuli that are consistent with a LIMA-based approach.

We encourage anyone seeking advice on how to change animal behavior to seek the advice of professionals that uphold these principles and standards. To locate an IAABC certified professional please visit our website at

To our members, colleagues, and followers, we sincerely thank you for your dedication to the betterment of the lives of animals and those who care for them.


Maier S., Seligman, M. (1976). Learned Helplessness: Theory and evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 105, 3-46.

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Sylvia Czarnecki, Certified Horse Behavior Consultant

I am proud and honored to be certified by, a member of, and educator for the IAABC. I consider the organization to be the industry standard for well-rounded, quality, ethical animal behavior information that is disseminated in a supportive, effective, collaborative environment. The IAABC works very hard to produce not only quantity of educational resources, but also quality.

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As a member, I get to network with experts in my field all over the world. This allows me to expand my knowledge in cat behavior as well as shelter behavior. As the feline behavior manager in an open intake shelter, this opportunity to learn from the best has allowed me to ensure the mental health and behavior needs are met for the cats in our care. The IAABC is the "go to" place for people all over the world to find experts in animal behavior. As a certified member my profile is available for the public to view. Since I earned my certification, I've seen my private business almost triple.

Lisa Stemcosky, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant

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IAABC has been an invaluable learning tool for both myself and staff. As a shelter professional, the webinars provide relevant and up to date information to be used in multiple formats. The online convenience allows for continuing education, minus the travel.The mentorship programs are nothing short of amazing, including the pricing . This organization is always looking forward and growing.

Amy Schindler, Shelter Behavior Affiliate