TREAT/RETREAT for Shy, Fearful & Socially Awkward Dogs

Treat/Retreat is a powerful must-have technique for anyone who works with shy, fearful or socially awkward dogs. Force-free and fear-free, Treat/Retreat helps dogs learn how to navigate the complexities of interacting with people.

Treat-Retreat was developed by Suzanne Clothier back in the early 1990s, inspired by Dr. Ian Dunbar’s story of how he got into a rough spot with an Akita, and used thrown treats to help him and the dog save face and avoid confrontation. Suzanne’s approach is different – it’s about teaching the dog a skill set that promotes confidence.

For 30 years, Treat/Retreat has been helping dogs around the world. This powerfully effective technique is used to help socially shy dogs master the intricacies of feeling comfortable interacting with and being around people.

Key aspects of Treat/Retreat:

  • Dog-centric
  • Force-free
  • Does not use negative reinforcement

This is a dog-centric technique that is force-free, and one that does not use negative reinforcement. Instead, respect for the dog’s boundaries, arousal and abilities are combined with nuanced observation and engagement of SEEKING to help build the dog’s skills. Using thin slices, Treat-Retreat helps the dog develop skills in comfortable ways that are readily generalized.

Support the Skilled Trainers

Sadly, because this technique has been around for a long time, there are many trainers who have felt free to appropriate the name Treat/Retreat for themselves. While they may believe they understand Treat-Retreat, they often provide inaccurate information. You will find these misguided trainers on YouTube, Facebook, and of course on their websites.

To avoid the continuation of unskilled trainers mis-applying Treat/Retreat, we created an online certification program in 2020. This is an intensive certification course designed for working professionals who wish to build their skills for working with shy, fearful and socially awkward dogs.

We will promote the trainers here who have earned their Treat/Retreat certification, and have demonstrated their skill in taking dogs from the first moment to interacting with people as equipment.

Look for the official Treat/Retreat logo and support the trainers who are skilled and able to help fearful dogs.

Better yet, join us and become a Treat/Retreat Certified Instructor!
(Complete info can be found here)

What’s Involved in the Treat/Retreat program?

Treat-Retreat works through multiple layers of social interactions:

  • Approaching
  • Moving
  • Interactions
  • Groups
  • Postures & gestures
  • Humans as training equipment
  • Orchestrated greetings

Next sessions starts January 2023. You can sign up at the registration page to get an e-mail alert when registration opens. 

What Our Students Say About TREAT/RETREAT

  • Awesome course! I loved this course. Powerful change through easy to follow protocols! Thank you, Suzanne. ~Shanthi Steddum
  • Fantastic – I especially like the information that concentrates on the importance of understanding SEEKING. This is SO GOOD!  ~ Christine Fox
  • Positive Method This course in just the first module has proven that when we put the ownership on the learner (dog), we have a positive outcome. I’ve learned so much about the “seeking” mode too.  ~ Brooke Dickhart
  • These introduction subjects have been enlightening. I particularly enjoy the discussion topics and opportunities to get Suzanne’s comments and guidance.  ~ Bobbi Burgmann

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