“He Just Wants to Say ‘Hi'”

Sitting quietly on the mall bench beside my husband, I was minding my own business when the man approached. I glanced up as the man sat […]

Behavior, Relationship, Training
“I had to…”

There are a few phrases that really push my buttons. When talking to trainers, the one that will always get a reaction from me is this […]

Behavior, Training
10 Tips for Problem Behavior

At one time or another, every owner has to deal with problem behavior. Understanding why your dog does what he does, and how to handle the […]

Behavior, Relationship, Training
A conversation about that Darned Dominance Debate

I recently had a very interesting email conversation with Dylan Boyce, a trainer who took issue with my article That Darned Dominance Debate. With his permission, […]

Aggression & Some Reasons Behind It

Whether we like it or not, we need to recognize that the wide range of behaviors labeled as aggression are communications from the dog to us. […]

Behavior, Training
Aggression Basics

Part and parcel of canine communications are growls, snarls, snaps and even bites – even among the nicest of dogs and the mildest of breeds. We […]

Behavior, Training
AGGRESSION: A Case History with Harry T

This case history is taken from an actual case; “Harry T.” is not his real name – it seemed kinder to keep the names of the […]

Behavior, Training
All Interesting and Stuff

I get asked often, “What are the best rewards to use?” Sometimes, folks mean what food treats do I recommend. The answer is, whatever the dog […]

Behavior, Relationship, Training
Avoiding Pack Mentality

Once upon a time, there was a concerned client who was considering adding another dog to their household. They already had two dogs, and were quite […]

Away in a Manger (Home Sweet Home)

When I was little, one of my favorite Christmas carols was Away in a Manger. To my mind, I did not think there could be anything […]

Basics of RAT (Relationship Assessment Tool)

My experience is that things are often far more simple in some ways than they seem. I’m aware of some of the behavior questionnaires that many […]

Behavior, Expectations, Relationship, Training
Becoming Your Own Trainer

My friend Tom O’Dowd at Wolf Saga sent me a quote from Red Smith, the famous sportswriter, the first sportswriter to win a Pulitzer Prize. Smith […]

Behavior, Training
Bones Would Rain from the Sky

Deepening Our Relationships With Dogs – by Suzanne Clothier (Warner Books, 2002) THIS EXCERPT MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED in any manner without express written permission from Warner […]

Expectations, Relationship
Cognitive dysfunction? Help for older dogs

A friend wrote: “Our dog is behaving strangely. We keep a diary on how his behavior is different than before. He has always been a ‘different dog’ […]

Connection & Control

Control is not always about connection, but connection is what makes control possible. Connection is about two minds working together. If the connection is not there […]

Relationship, Training
Could you recognize your dog’s CARAT graphical profile?

CARAT is a behavior assessment tool Suzanne Clothier developed back in 2008. Put to work on behalf of one of the world’s largest guide schools, Guiding […]

Dances With Dogs

Linda Tellington-Jones uses a beautiful analogy to describe her approach to working with animals: she sees the interaction between human and animal as a dance. For […]

Relationship, Training
Do I believe in clickers?

A trainer wrote to ask: “I heard over the weekend that Suzanne? doesn’t approve of or subscribe to clicker use. ls this true? What does she […]

Dog is in the Details

One trainer wrote:  “A dog who puts its feet on you, a dog who seems to like pinning you down in your chair with its head […]

Dog Training & Recipes

It’s seductive, you know? The slick photos or videos that show something that looks great, and better still, looks so danged easy to do. You feel […]

Behavior, Training
Drive and brakes and steering

A recent discussion on a trainers’ list brought several comments regarding the “drive” in “working lines” leading to puppies and young dogs leaping, jumping, biting and […]

Arousal, Behavior, Training
Even Though…

All of us can appreciate what might excite a dog, even to the point of tuning out his handler. It could be another dog, people approaching, […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
Fitness In Your Back Yard

Canine athlete. Do those two words make you think of dogs that can perform amazing feats? While it’s fun to watch highly trained canine athletes take […]

FREE Presentations from Suzanne Clothier at SPEAK!

For those interested in Animal Assisted Interactions, you can watch Suzanne Clothier’s keynote and closing presentations at the SPEAK! conference hosted by the University of Minnesota. […]

Behavior, Philosophical, Training, Uncategorized
Free Report on “Contraception & Fertility Control in Dogs & Cats” from ACC&D

Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs (ACC&D) has just released its latest 2013 report on “Contraception & Fertility Control in Dogs & Cats.” This extensive […]

Go Say HI 1-2-3 for Dog-to-Dog Introductions

Go Say Hi 1-2-3 involves: giving permission (Go say HI!) counting to 3 calling out dog and away from the other dog In that 3-second interval, dogs […]

Going past the clicker

I deeply appreciate how clickers can teach a client to focus on watching for the good instead of waiting to correct or punish the bad. I […]

Green Eggs & Ham & Dog Training?

For most dog owners, Dr. Seuss’s classic tale Green Eggs & Ham seems an odd place to look for inspiration. But as a Greek mathematician soaking […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
Guidelines for Teaching Self Control

Does your dog pull on lead when someone approaches? when he sees another dog? if joggers run by? if children are playing? if a cat or […]

Behavior, Training
Handling On-lead Aggression

Perhaps one of the most embarrassing behavior problems is a dog who acts aggressively on leash, whether towards dogs, other animals or people. Often these dogs […]

Behavior, Training
Hard to Train?

Imagine two balloons hanging over your dog’s head. One balloon asks “WHY?” as in, “Why should I heel/stay/come/retrieve/jump?” The other asks “WHY NOT?” As in, “Why […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
Heartspeak Isn’t Jargon

Not too long ago, I was asked about a specific bit of training. The questioner posed in very jargonistic terms, “So what you’re saying is that […]

How A Kong Toy Nearly Killed My Dog

Mila, Feb 6, one week before it all went bad When Mila threw up her entire breakfast, I was concerned. I checked her over carefully. No […]

How Much Does Your Dog’s Cooperation Weigh?

A while ago, I began to realize that clients were constantly telling me how much their dogs weighed, but when they were having a bit of […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
Howling: Music to My Ears

Despite Hollywood’s portrayal of the howl as a lonely cry in the dark, howling is a gorgeously complex vocalization in wolves, coyotes and dogs. Dogs howl […]

If Only That Hadn’t Happened, This Dog Would Be Fine

People have many explanations for why dogs act as they do. Sometimes the dog’s history becomes baggage that the human carts along for the dog’s entire […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
It Takes a Pack to Raise a Puppy

Note: This article originally appeared in the newsletter of the Siberian Husky Club of America. Not too long ago, I read about a study that showed […]

Behavior, Expectations
JUMPING SERIES Part I: Why Fluffy Can’t Go Hup

NOTE: This article is the first in a 4 part series on jumping that originally appeared in Off Lead magazine. Of all the skills we ask […]

JUMPING SERIES Part II: Can or Can’t? Physical Causes of Jumping Problems

PHYSICAL CAUSES OF JUMPING PROBLEMS by Suzanne Clothier NOTE: This article is the second in a 4 part series on jumping that first appeared in Off […]


NOTE: This article is the third in a 4 part series on jumping that first appeared in Off Lead magazine. In the first article in this […]

JUMPING SERIES Part IV: Just Right Jumping

NOTE: This article is the fourth in a 4 part series on jumping that first appeared in Off Lead magazine. Let’s assume that your dog is […]

Just Say No !??!?

I realize that in some groups, there is a current taboo on saying NO to a dog. This has led me to consider briefly the idea […]

Behavior, Training

KEEPING IT SAFE: In mid-February, I made a trip that reminded me for the millionth time that feeling safe is important. It was supposed to be […]

Behavior, Training
Leadership Basics

There are three basic aspects to leadership: – Control of or undisputed access to resources – Proactive intervention – Ability to control, direct or inhibit the […]

Behavior, Training
Lessons from the Masters

There’s an old lady I know who has been training puppies for years. And she does a very good job of it. Funny thing, though, she […]

Behavior, Training
Look Into My Eyes

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time gazing into eyes. Specifically, puppy eyes. The 9 pups of Georgia’s litter are in that lovely 4+ week old […]

Mistakes and Becoming A Trainer

At 50, I’ve put in 30 years now as a professional, and in every one of those years, I’ve managed to make unique mistakes that I […]

Of Hostages & Relationships

He said that he loved her. He said that his relationship with her mattered almost more than anything else in his life. He said that he […]

Behavior, Relationship, Training
Optimal Jump Height for Obedience?

QUESTION: This [new jump height rule] seems to present a new opportunity: don’t train the dog to jump an arbitrary height, but rather match the proper […]

Perfectly Normal?

“All dogs start out as perfectly normal puppies,ready and eager to learn, as malleable as clay.” Dr. Ian Dunbar Sigh… this came across my desk today, […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
Permission, Not Permissive

You know what the dog may believe? “If I see my friend Buster, I can drag her over there. She does move kind of slow and […]

Behavior, Relationship, Training
Pets & Adverse Drug Reactions

The FDA has updated its list of adverse drug reactions for pets . Adverse reactions can range from mild and transitory to extremely serious or even […]

Pie Crusts and Training Problems

There are some typical problems or frustrations that occur when cooking (and when dog training): 1. You never stop believing that the first recipe was ideal […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
Pits, Bites – Facts & Fears

I came across the website of Karen Delise, The National Canine Research Council. Delise offers a much needed clear eyed look at our fears, the facts, […]

Positively Abusive

A friend alerted me today to a disturbing video on YouTube. It’s been there for a while, though I was happily unaware of it until now. […]

Behavior, Relationship, Training
Put A Cushion Around Your Dog

A sadly reliable part of my work are the scared ones, dogs brought to me because they were afraid, sometimes of specifics like tall men or […]

Behavior, Training
Reality Check

Norman Mailer was a well known philanderer. He loved women, or at least loved loving them. He worked his way through five marriages and countless affairs […]

Behavior, Expectations, Training
Relationship Centered Training

When your approach to training is “relationship based” this means the relationship is always the central & key point of all you do. At every step, […]

Behavior, Relationship, Training
Reliability and the Retrieve: Justifying the Ear Pinch?

I am not 100% reliable. I sleep through alarms, forget to buy dog food (forcing me to create unusual concoctions from oatmeal, eggs and a single […]

Behavior, Philosophical, Training
Rewards, Lures & Bribes

When you think about the use of rewards in dog training, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? For some, it is a […]

Behavior, Training
SCENT GAMES – Educating Your Dog’s Nose

Long before you pull out the tracking flags, dust off the utility articles or decide that your dog needs to learn how to use his nose, […]

Behavior, Training
Selecting for Vigor

One way to determine the vigorousness of individual puppies during that relatively tranquil first week of life. The first week of a puppy’s life begins with […]

Selecting Training Equipment

For the dog to perceive a signal from you, he must feel it, hear it, or see it. Most training equipment relies upon touch and therefore […]

Behavior, Training
Simple Questions, Simple Answers

Any given day’s emails are a collection of odd amusements, worrisome reports, sad news, glad tidings, and requests out of the blue. Recently, I was contacted […]

Behavior, Training
Stop Poking Grandma! What’s Fair Between Older Dogs & Puppies

“Help me! I’m being poked and I can’t get up!” she cries. The kid pokes her again, laughs; he’s having a ball. She swings ineffectively at […]

Behavior, Training
Strong Winds Bring Change

It’s been a year for the winds of changes to blow hard and long. On every level, the winds are blowing, and I keep trying to […]

From The Farm
SYSTEM SAVER: Good Things from Good People

Today, I had a most delightful conversation with Judy Baker of SYSTEM SAVER. For several years now we’ve been using and recommending wholeheartedly this wonderful product, […]

That Darned Dominance Debate

Dominance is not necessarily synonymous with pecking order or rigid hierarchies. It is not synonymous with aggression, coercion, abuse, force.  And yet many trainers persist in […]

Behavior, Training, Veterinary
The 3 P’s: Does Your Dog Need Medication?

These days, owners have a huge range of options to help dogs who are fearful, anxious, phobic, dysfunctional. Some approaches are, of course, more effective than […]

Behavior, Training, Veterinary
The Fine Art of Observation

Understanding, analyzing and resolving behavior or performance problems requires a good deal of detective work. As the famous Sherlock Holmes knew, no detail, however small, is […]

Behavior, Training
The Habit of Excellence

Whatever the particular field or pursuit, what sets these people apart from others who would also bake a cake or play music or train a dog […]

Expectations, Training
The Power of Social Interactions as Rewards

A trainer friend asked me, “Do you use treats when working with a dog who is worried, fearful, reactive or otherwise having trouble, or do you […]

Behavior, Training
The Problem With Head Halters

Before reading this article, please understand the basic concept presented: Head halters, like ALL training equipment, need to be used carefully. Why readers are sometimes violently angry […]

Behavior, Training
Training or Restraining?

For all the arguments that abound re: training equipment, it all boils down to one very simple point: equipment helps us to either train or restrain […]

Behavior, Training
Training with the Prong Collar

July 2009 I had considered removing this article from my website. I no longer use prong collars; can’t remember last time I put one on a […]

Behavior, Training
Understanding Thresholds: It’s More than Under- or Over-

While most of us recognize the dog who has been pushed past a threshold and into reaction, it is harder to know exactly where the sweet […]

Arousal, Behavior, Training
When Sport Becomes Abuse

Corrections & notes added evening, June 3, 2013 Abuse… it’s a big word contained in just 5 letters. Middle English, from Middle French abus, from Latin […]

Why Not Take Candy From a Baby? (If he lets you!)

You had to admire the little guy. Not quite three years old, the Cocker – let’s call him Buffy – possessed considerable clarity, at least when […]

Behavior, Training