A Weekend with Suzanne Clothier

About Suzanne

Since 1977 Suzanne Clothier has worked professionally with animals, with a deep, broadly varied background of experience including obedience training, agility, Search & Rescue, kennel management, and program development. She is well respected for her humane, effective Relationship Centered Training (RCT™) approach to dogs and the people that love them.  As always, Suzanne's sense of humor and compassionate approach plus her keen observation skills will make for a memorable and educational event.

Suzanne’s innovative training work includes:
    •    CARAT™ - a novel temperament assessment & scoring system
    •    The Enriched Puppy Protocol™ - Program for early puppyhood development, birth to 9 weeks
    •    RAT™ (Relationship Assessment Tool) – dog/human relationship dynamics assessment
    •    FAT™ (Functional Assessment Tracking) – 15 dimension functional assessment of individual dog
    •    CCC™ (Connection, Cooperation & Control, with Cindy Knowlton) – a puzzle based training program


Suzanne's tools and materials are utilized by guide & service dog organizations, animal assisted therapy, every day pet owners, by trainers, breeders, veterinarians, academics and in research. As a consultant to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Assistance Dogs of the West and Guide Dogs of America, Suzanne’s Enriched Puppy Protocol™ and RCT™ techniques have improved their puppy raising programs.

Her highly-praised book, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships With Dogs (Warner, 2002) was twice included in The Wall Street Journal's list of Top 5 Dog Books.

A German Shepherd breeder, her 9 generations of Hawks Hunt German Shepherds have been successful in competitive performance sports, Search & Rescue, herding, therapy work and of course as beloved companions. Suzanne lives on an upstate New York farm with husband John Rice, and their considerable animal family of dogs, cats, parrots, tortoises, horses, donkeys, Scottish Highland cattle, pigs and chickens.


Workshop Topics

Private/Semi-Private Lessons

Friday, June 12, 1:00pm-6:00pm

Rare opportunity for a private or semi-private (shared two people) lesson with Suzanne.  Four to five spots available.  Auditors welcome.  

Fight or Flight?  Understanding and Helping Fearful, Shy and Reactive Dogs 

Saturday, June 13, 9am-5 pm

Morning:  interactive presentation
Afternoon:  1-3 demo dogs with their handlers

This topic is designed for anyone who trains or lives with fearful, shy or reactive dogs. 

For many reactive dogs, biting or fighting are the choices they make when they run out of options, out of coping skills and knowledge.  Feeling unsafe or pressured, these dogs respond in the only ways they know -- which can be scary, upsetting and even dangerous.

Suzanne’s approach teaches handlers to see the fear and confusion that underlies many behavior and aggression problems. In addition to seeing each dog as an individual, this seminar emphasizes:

  • Reading canine body language

  • Management vs training

  • Reactive or overwhelmed? 

  • Using the stimulus gradient

  • “Thin slicing” 

  • Skill building for success

A variety of practical Relationship Centered Training techniques will be provided to help handlers and dogs both make choices that are comfortable, safe and humane. Whether you are a concerned owner or a professional wanting new techniques, this seminar will provide a wealth of information to deepen your training toolbox.

Demo dogs slots available for case history presentation.

Relationship Centered Training


Saturday, June 13, 6:30 pm-9:00 pm   

Find out why Suzanne keeps the dog/human relationship as central to everything, and how you and your dog can benefit, whether first time owner or headed to world championships!

RCT provides a structure for understand the dog/handler relationship, a complex and dynamic interaction that blends the individual dog's temperament, preferences, skills and limits with the handler's temperament, skills, needs and goals. Assessed within the framework of RCT, any relationship can be clearly seen in its strengths and weaknesses. This clear-eyed assessment helps us select the training and philosophy that is most suitable for that dog & handler, rather than a one-size fits all approach.

RCT looks at 3 keys and 9 points in every relationship:

  • Connection - Heartfelt, Awareness, Respect

  • Communication - Information, Feedback, Consequences

  • Commitment - Attention, Responsibility, Trust

Understanding the relationship with their dog within the context of this complex blend of information helps handlers work to modify and adapt their handling and goals for enhanced relationships and better performance.

From Confused to Connected:  Finding the Paths to Better Dog/Human Relationships 

Sunday, June 14, 9am-5 pm.

Morning:  interactive presentation.

Afternoon:  1-3 demo dogs with their handlers


It seems a simple goal: an enjoyable, mutually rewarding relationship with dogs. But like the proverbial brass ring, this kind of dog/human relationship can seem out of reach. No matter how many training books you read, no matter how many classes you attend, no matter which equipment and techniques you try, you find yourself still confused, even frustrated with a dog. In a forest of information, it's hard to find the path that will lead to better relationships.

This workshop presented by Suzanne Clothier offers practical tools to help you find the appropriate path to a better relationship with your dog. As always, Suzanne's work focuses on keeping the relationship central, respecting the individual dog and human, and aiming for a mutually satisfying connection.

Suzanne will be using selected case history dogs (and their handlers!) to help attendees learn how to assess behavior, training & performance issues. While these are complex challenges to unravel, Suzanne's approach is based in simple Decision Points to guide choices for each dog and handler.

Emphasis will be placed on

  • Observation skills - really seeing the dog and handler in detailed ways opens a world of understanding

  • The Elemental Questions - questions and answers that reveal the dog as an individual

  • The Think & Learn Zone - why arousal matters, why Goldilocks was right, and what to do about sticky dogs

  • Yes/No/Maybe So? - Using Decision Points and flow charts

  • Transitions & Thresholds - Tipping points and finding the balance