This is a PURE DOG TALK Podcast, originally published Jan 7, 2019 – enjoy!
Suzanne Clothier Talks Relationship Building
Suzanne Clothier has developed a training and assessment system built entirely around relationship building with our dogs. “Animals have been my whole life,” Clother said. “It’s a lifelong passion, that has informed a fascinating journey.” Clothier’s seminal book, Bones Would Rain from the Sky, was published in 2002. Her warm, down to earth, compassionate nature shines through as she shares her journey and what she’s learned.
“If you have a trusting relationship,” Clothier said, “it’s then about what you enjoy doing together.” Training show dogs is a skill like any other, Clothier noted. She added that not all dogs have “the Sandra Dee gene” that makes them enjoy being the center of attention. “We’re like crazy stage moms,” Clothier said, “asking our dogs to be on stage.” For dogs who train well at home but don’t give us the performance we’re expecting at a show, “It’s like singing in the shower,” she noted, “It’s not the same as auditioning for The Voice.” Clothier’s goal is to evaluate all interactions with a dog through the prism of “How does this affect the relationship with me and the animal.”
Tools for the job
Her training goals are to stay humane, fair, loving and respectful, Clothier said. She has developed tools for trainers to help diagnose both handlers and dogs. Her Relationship Assessment Tool helps clarify “which end of the leash is contributing to the problem,” Clothier said. “What do I need to fix. And where’s the good stuff. What can we build on.” She’s also created an app that enables owners, handlers and caretakers to literally track exactly how a dog is feeling on a given day. This Functional Assessment Tracking (FAT) program provides feedback using the dog’s behavior, activity, food intake etc to determine, literally, “how are you today.”