The proper surgical techniques represent a key opportunity to improve the welfare of laboratory rodents, while meeting legal and ethical obligations. Use of inappropriate or poor surgical technique requires a large number of animals, and in some instances introduces a high degree of morbidity and mortality, thereby increasing study variability and number of animals required. A recent increase in validations of inanimate surgical training tools has enabled the implementation of inanimate tools for training and competency assessment. Proper surgical technique improves animal welfare, decreases inter-animal variability, decreases expense and improves data yield. Inanimate based training is an integral part of clinical surgical training. However, the effectiveness of this type of training is as dependent on the manner in which it is implemented and delivered as it is on the inanimate object being used. In this presentation, specific inanimate tools will be identified that may assist trainers in optimizing the effects of inanimate-based training. These elements include scenario design, feedback, and conditions of practice. Specific guidelines for inanimate-based surgical training will be provided. This lecture will compare various inanimate surgical training tools, and describe the utilization of these tools in training and competency assessment. This information will be presented by summarizing our current studies addressing competency assessment. Justification, regulatory compliance processes, as well as the equipment and training required to establish and implement inanimate training into a surgery program will be discussed with a hope that this lecture will encourage IACUC personnel, investigators, veterinarians, surgical and veterinary technicians and research staff to consider and investigate the potential of these techniques to enhance research support capabilities and improve animal welfare.