About Suzanne Clothier

"Training is a mechanical skill that can be learned. Problems arise when we mistake training for a relationship."

About Suzanne Clothier

Suzanne Clothier has worked with animals professionally since 1977, with a background includes obedience, agility, puppy testing, breeding, Search and Rescue, conformation, instructing, kennel management and AAT.

Her Relationship Centered Training™ approach blends science and heart to create humane, effective and practical solutions for dogs and the people who work with them, whether professional working dogs or couch warming companions.

A “trainer’s trainer”, Suzanne has long been in demand as a speaker at conferences around the world. She has taught on a broad variety of topics throughout the US and internationally for groups as varied as Wolf Park, FEMA (Northeast Region Disaster Dog Teams), Alaskan Dog Musher Association, Assistance Dogs International NA, Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and University of MN’s SPEAK! conference. She is a popular speaker at online conferences such as Geek Week! and the Lemonade Conferences.

An innovative trainer always seeking better ways to understand, assess and improve what we do with and for dogs, Suzanne has published a variety of books, DVDs, online courses and training tools. Her ground breaking book, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships With Dogs (Warner, 2002) was twice voted a Top 5 book by the Wall Street Journal, and is considered a classic in the field.

Her tools and materials have been put to use for every day pet owners, by trainers, breeders, veterinarians, in guide & service dog organizations, in animal assisted therapy, and by academics and in research. She serves as a consultant to guide and service dog organizations around the world, with her RCT materials, innovative assessment tools and Enriched Puppy Protocol being incorporated into their programs.

Her suite of assessment tools provide a powerful framework for trainers and organizations:

  • RAT™ (Relationship Assessment Tool) – handler/dog dynamics, rapid assessment plus ability to track and compare
  • CARAT™ (Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool) – temperament assessment on 6 categories, 21 dimensions
  • FAT™ (Functional Assessment Tool) – a ground-breaking app provides functionality/welfare assessment across physiological, social and cognitive dimensions

A long time breeder of German Shepherds, 11 generations of her dogs have been successful in multiple dog sports, SAR, therapy work, and as guide dog breeding stock. Her Enriched Puppy Protocol (EPP) reflects her deep understanding of how to provide age-appropriate challenges to create puppies that are connected, confident, coordinate and capable. EPP has been put to use in multiple guide & service dog organizations and with private breeders to maximize the critical early puppyhood development.

She lives on a working farm in upstate New York with husband John Rice, and their considerable animal family.

  • Agility Training Workbook: A Step-by-step Motivational Approach (1991, out of print)
  • The Clothier Natural Jumping Method (1991)
  • The 7 Cs (1993)
  • Physical Therapy for the Canine Athlete (1994, out of print)
  • Understanding Puppy Testing (1995, out of print)
  • Body Posture & Emotions (1995, revised 2022)
  • Understanding & Teaching Self Control (1995, revised 2022)
  • Following Ghosts: Understanding the Tracking Relationship (1995, revised 2018)
  • Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs (Warner, 2002)
  • Finding A Balance: Issues of Power in the Dog/Human Relationship (1995, revised 2018)
  • Attentive Cooperation (2015)
  • The Connection Collection (2014)
  • Motivational Agility Training: Step-by-Step (1991, 0ut of print)
  • Your Athletic Dog: A Functional Approach (1995)
  • Introduction to Relationship Centered Training (2013)
  • Arousal, Fear & Anxiety: Empathy, Understanding & Options for the Shy & Fearful Dog (2014)
  • Mindful Socialization: Because Life is Not a Checklist (2019)
  • Really Real Relaxation: Creating authentic, connected relaxation with your dog (2018)
Training Programs & Materials
  • The Connection Course Cards (2014)
  • Fruits & Veggies Training Game: Mind Your Peas & Cues
  • RCT Training Games (with Heather Leonard, 2013)
  • The Enriched Puppy Protocol (2007; public release late 2022)
  • CARAT: Temperament Assessment Tool (2007)
  • RAT: Relationship Assessment Tool (2009)
  • FAT: Functional Assessment Tool (2015; released mid-2022)
  • CCC-Connection, Cooperation & Control (with Cindy Knowlton, 2018)
  • Treat-Retreat Certification Course (2021)

What our customers say about us

RCT Skills for Reactive Dogs - helping him blossom!

Very useful and applicable even for the non-professional trainer. Lots of helpful tips and ideas to help us with our adopted Australian Shepherd who is defensively aggressive and a little unsure of how to deal with the world at times. These techniques along with lots of patience are helping him to really blossom and it is very rewarding to see him relaxing and enjoying life. He was about 7 years old when we brought him home – it’s never too late to help!

Chantelle Beare

A Suzanne Clothier seminar is must-have experience for all dog lovers.

Suzanne Clothier is the best. She has been a regular presenter at For Your K9 for nearly two decades. Her knowledge about everything dog with her quick wit makes any Suzanne Clothier Seminar a wonderful experience of learning and laughing. After her first visit many years ago, we revamped our training program to incorporate Suzanne’s teachings and now For Your K9 is known for solving behavior issues and great training in our area. A Suzanne Clothier seminar is must-have experience for all dog lovers.

Nancy Reyes, For Your K9, Chicago, IL

Really Real Relaxation Pro - Incredibly helpful!

Incredibly helpful for reactive, high-energy, and dogs that need and on/off switch! I love this exercise and describe it to dog owners as a team meditation exercise. It’s an exercise every reactive dog should have the the opportunity to learn, for sure. I find this approach helps the dog their chill more independently and organically. The requirement of the handler to also regulate themselves helps to keep my tendency to micromanage in check. I have made dramatically better progress helping a dog find relaxation and self-regulate using this protocol after a single session than with weeks of daily drills with another protocol. (That sounds cliche, but it is true.) It is very integration-into-your-life-friendly. So great!

Laura Fennel

Inspirational, engaging and thought-provoking

I first met Suzanne through her insightful, wonderful book Bones Would Rain From The Sky. The book alone had me hooked and I wanted to meet this amazing author in person. I was delighted to host her for a series of 4 seminars in the UK. She didn’t disappoint! The woman that I met through the pages of her book, was even more inspirational in person and was an engaging and thought-provoking speaker. Suzanne is a consummate professional and delivered a world-class service for the lucky people who were able to attend. She had our audience spellbound from the beginning, right through to the end. I can’t wait to have you come back again!

Gemma Fisher, Fisher Fix Dogs, UK

Really Real Relaxation Pro - "jewels" to add to my toolbox


I enjoyed the course but more importantly, as a pro trainer, and I always look for new modalities and ideas to bring to my private training practice. This methodology is one of those “jewels” I will incorporate into my behavior modification toolbox to help my clients help their dogs relax in “real world” scenarios. Suzanne does a terrific job in delivering the information by providing clear examples of her protocol and what is not. However, do not be fooled by the simplicity of the exercise/protocol! There is much more nuance to the steps involved. From my perspective, there is a secondary benefit for dog parents to learn when engaging in Suzanne’s RRR. They will learn to look for small changes in their dog’s body language and demeanor, which supports their dogs in learning how to lower their arousal level.

Almudena Ortiz Cué C.H.A.C.O. Dog Training & Behavior Consulting LLC

Evidence-informed, master of creativity

Suzanne Clothier is an excellent speaker. Her work is evidence-informed from both empirical literature and case studies. She has great rapport with the audience speaking from her head and heart – grounding her work in stories that are funny and breathtaking. She is a master of creativity and communication with her animal partners. Suzanne is a “go-to” expert in the field.

Dr. Jean Larson, University of Minnesota, Nature Based Therapeutics Programs

RCT Skills for Reactive Dogs - Invaluable!

LOVED THIS COURSE! This course is exactly what I was looking for. There is so much helpful information provided to help out our reactive dogs and their handlers. The specific training techniques, spelled out in detail, are invaluable. In addition to all the training techniques. The bonus material is much more than I ever expected. Well worth the price and I am excited to put these principles & techniques into action with my clients and add to my class curriculum. Thank You!

Bev Oliver

RAT (Relationship Assessment Tool) - Helping Clients Achieve Their Goals

Using R.A.T. helps me as a psychotherapist examine and identify essential elements of relationship quickly and clearly with my clients. And relationships are at the heart of most human issues. R.A.T. helps me point out therapeutic issues in a fundamental way that is often easier for clients to absorb because their interactions with an animal seem removed from their “real life,” with all the emotional landmines real life contains. The information I get from R.A.T. then helps me structure interventions that have a greater likelihood of helping clients achieve their goals. It helps me work on the issue rather than the symptoms of the issue.

Ann Howie, LISCW, ASCW, CCA, CCFT, Human-Animal Solutions, author Teaming With Your Therapy Dog

Observation Skills Part 1 - Exceed my expectations!

OBS Part 1

The course that keeps on giving. Having taken many of Suzanne’s courses and webinars, I know they are always going to exceed my expectations. This course is not a checklist. It is training your brain to be a better observer. You’ll have several aha-moments during the course and course work, but it continues way beyond that. You will observe everything differently, and continue to improve your observation skills after this course. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the road to improvement is fascinating once you know the limitations of your own mind and how to better overcome those limitations. I can’t wait for part 2 of this course.

Vibeke Alstad Jagne

RAT (Relationship Assessment Tool)

RAT has added some powerful skills to my professional trainer toolbox. RAT helps me identify what skills & support are needed for dog & handler The RAT score sheet provides each client with great clarity and the opportunity to dig into a specific, well though-out training plan that meets their needs.

Cindy Knowlton CPDT-KA, CNWI, CCA, CRA See Spot Grin