A must-have tool for trainers

If you are involved in helping people and dogs find their best relationship, RAT™ is a must-have tool that streamlines your training so that you can be as effective, humane and customized as possible. Course begins March 15, 2022. This is an intensive course, with 46 lessons and multiple assignments. The RAT Assessor Test is now included. Successful completion of all assignments & coursework earns a certificate RAT Certified Assessor (RCA).

  • The dynamics of relationship are your guide to effective training. RAT shows you what that dog and that handler need!

  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses in a relationship points the way to customized training plans.

  • The RAT scoresheet provides clear information for the client, and supports the rationale behind your training plans.

  • Make the match! Is this dog right for this handler? Is this handler or lifestyle right for this dog? RAT is an ideal suitability assessment.

  • Track progress through changes in the RAT scoresheet, provide excellent feedback for clients.

  • This intensive course is largely self-paced, with content dripped out over 3 months. Includes 3 months of bi-weekly Q&A sessions with Suzanne (via Zoom meetings) and access to materials for one year.

  • Completion of the course offers the following CEUs: IAABC - 22.875 CEUs; KPA - 30 CEUs; PPAB - 19 CEUs.

What does RAT assess?

This rapid assessment provides a new framework for understanding the dog/handler relationship

RAT looks at the patterns of interaction between a dog and handler. Both ends of the leash are considered, with an eye to what supports the relationship, what may be undermining it, or what may be creating training challenges.

RAT looks for the strengths that are present, and identifies areas for improvement. Specifically, RAT looks in detail at:

  • Pulling
  • Check-In
  • Equipment Use
  • Orchestration
  • Directability
  • Accommodation
  • Use of Space
  • Arousal and Resilience
  • Handler Communication and Feedback
  • Dog-to-Dog Interactions
  • Connection.
  • Risk Factors

The RAT scoresheet provides a clear reflection of the observed dynamics, and points the way to a Triage Training Plan (TTP).

The Dynamics of Interaction

Your guide to helping people & dogs find their best relationships

"Wherever you go, there you are!" 

In each relationship, the handler brings his or her habits, personalities, needs and style to interact with the dog, who also brings his own personality, patterns of response, needs and style.

RAT™ provides a clear structure for helping you see whether a dog and human are aligned, or if their individual patterns of behavior are creating challenges or even conflict. 

Put your training time, energy and resources into addressing the actual issues, not following a one-size-fits-all training plan.

RAT™ clearly identifies the strengths and weaknesses of any dog/handler team. Training Triage helps you prioritize and develop a sensible, targeted training plan for improving and strengthening the relationship.

RAT's rapid assessment provides clear, actionable information for you as trainer/instructor and provides talking points for discussion with clients.  

Grounded in detailed observation, RAT™ can be used for initial assessment as well as for monitoring progress over time or situations.

If you are involved in helping people and dogs find their best relationship, RAT™ is a must-have tool that streamlines your training so that you can be as effective, humane and customized as possible.

RAT™ is ideal for trainers, instructors, shelter workers, rescue groups, veterinarians, vet techs, breeders, service dog trainers, AAI/AAT and anyone interested in understanding and enhancing the dog/human relationship.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

    • A message from your instructor

    • How to use this course

    • Your Starting Point

  • 2

    Question and Answer Sessions

    • How to use the Q&A Sessions

    • Schedule of Bi-Weekly Q & A Sessions - Please Register Now!

    • Recorded Version: RAT Q&A from March 23, 2022

    • Recorded Version: RAT Q&A from April 6, 2022

    • Recorded Q&A - April 20, 2022

    • Recorded Q&A - May 4, 2022

    • Recorded Q&A - May 18, 2022

    • Recorded Q&A - June 1, 2022

  • 3

    Core Concepts of RCT

    • Relationship Centered Training & RAT

    • BONUS: Intro to RCT

    • CONNECTION

    • COMMUNICATION

    • COMMITMENT

    • RCT Principles in Action

  • 4

    RAT Assessments

  • 5

    MUTUAL ASPECTS

    • Assess: Pulling

    • Assess: Check-in

    • Assess: Directability

    • Assess: Use of Space

    • Assess: Equipment Use

    • TEST YOUR LEARNING

  • 6

    HANDLER

    • Assess: Accommodation

    • Assess: Communication & Feedback

    • Assess: Orchestration

  • 7

    DOG & HANDLER

    • Assess: Arousal & Resilience

    • WEBINAR: Geometry of Body Language

    • Assess: Dog-Dog Interactions

    • Assess: Connection

    • Assess: Risk Factors & Notes

  • 8

    PRACTICE VIDEOS

    • PLEASE DOWNLOAD: RAT Scoresheet - Fillable PDF (SAMPLE)

    • Using the RAT Scoresheet

    • VIDEO #1 Practice

    • VIDEO #2 Practice

    • VIDEO #3 Practice

    • VIDEO #4 Practice

    • VIDEO #5 Practice

    • DOWNLOAD: PRACTICE Reading RAT Scoresheets

  • 9

    TRIAGE & TRAINING PLAN

    • Training Triage

    • Changing Behavior - TIM

    • Defining the Problem

    • A Working Plan

    • Evaluation: Assessing Training Plan success

    • Triage & Training Plan Example: Part I

    • Triage & Training Plan Example: Part 2

  • 10

    ASSIGNMENTS

    • DOWNLOAD FILES: RAT Case History & Adopter/Buyer templates

    • ASSIGNMENT Create Plan for TEAM Quentin & Dave

    • ASSIGNMENT Create Plan for TEAM Banjo & Kathi

    • ASSIGNMENT Create Plan for TEAM Bailey & Kathi

    • ASSIGNMENT Make the Match: JuJuBee & Possible Handlers

    • DOWNLOAD these files

    • ASSIGNMENT Create & Compare Plans for 3 Handlers, 1 Dog

  • 11

    ASSESSMENTS & APPLICATIONS

    • Structuring Assessments

    • DOWNLOAD - Guidelines for Constructing RAT Assessments

    • Building Blocks of the RAT Assessment

    • RAT Applications

    • The RAT Conversation

  • 12

    RAT Assessor Test

    • Becoming a RAT Assessor: Guidelines & Expectations

      FREE PREVIEW
    • HELPFUL INFO Sharing & Uploading Videos & Photos to Youtube and Vimeo

    • Design Two RAT Set-Ups

    • SET-UP #1

    • SET-UP #1 - RAT Scoresheet for Handler/Dog Team #1

    • SET-UP #1 - TTP for Handler/Dog Team #1

    • SET-UP #1 - RAT Scoresheet for Handler/Dog Team #2

    • SET-UP #1 - TTP for Handler/Dog Team #2

    • SET-UP #2

    • SET-UP #2 - RAT Scoresheet for Handler/Dog Team #1

    • SET-UP #2 - TTP for Handler/Dog Team #1

    • SET-UP#2 - RAT Scoresheet for Handler/Dog Team #2

    • SET-UP #2 - TTP for Handler/Dog Team #2

    • Your Background & Experience

    • Professional Recommendations

    • Obtaining CEUs

    • Before you go...

What Others Have To Say About RAT

5 star rating

Extremely well organized & taught

Patricia Rapaport

The RAT course was extremely well organized and taught. I have gained so much more understanding on how to assess the relationship between handler and dog. Suzanne provided many examples to view. Our Q&A sessions were helpful. As usual Suzann...

Read More

The RAT course was extremely well organized and taught. I have gained so much more understanding on how to assess the relationship between handler and dog. Suzanne provided many examples to view. Our Q&A sessions were helpful. As usual Suzanne is a wealth of knowledge. I feel very confident that I am able to evaluate the relationships. I am using the methods to help the handlers understand why their connection with their dogs may be falling short. Suzanne gives us tools to also do triage and set up training plans that help meet the handlers’ needs. I highly recommend this course for serious minded trainers or behaviorists!

Read Less
5 star rating

A great course for all!

Linda Zegers

RAT gives your mind a great way of looking at and evaluating the relationship between dogs and humans. It gives clear directions and guidelines and helps you to identify all the elements of a relationship. I recommend this course for everybody wh...

Read More

RAT gives your mind a great way of looking at and evaluating the relationship between dogs and humans. It gives clear directions and guidelines and helps you to identify all the elements of a relationship. I recommend this course for everybody who has to do with people and their dogs. All our staff at our assistance dog school are going to take this course. Linda Zegers Hulphond Nederland

Read Less
5 star rating

Take advantage of this excellent educational offering

Jacqueline Moreno

For dogs as to humans and other animals, one key to well being is to be control of behaviour and emotion. It very much depends on the quality of our relationship with those we live with. Assessing the quality of those relationships and work out ho...

Read More

For dogs as to humans and other animals, one key to well being is to be control of behaviour and emotion. It very much depends on the quality of our relationship with those we live with. Assessing the quality of those relationships and work out how some dogs and people are a nice fit is a complex task. If you want to learn how to approach it you need Relationship Centered Training offered by legendary animal trainer and guru Suzanne Clothier. Suzanne has created a detailed and well thought through tool for the rapid appraisal of the quality of a dog-handler relationship, what is good in it and what needs to be repaired and rebuilt. Clothier has a very generous approach to teaching and coaching. It is worth every penny. She offers all the great written material and videos plus live Q&A sessions where people can ask to their heart content and she answers every question. Yes…every question. I have never seen anyone else do that.

Read Less

FAQ

  • Who needs RAT?

    If you are involved in helping dogs and people find their way to the best possible relationship, you need RAT! Trainers, behaviorists, veterinarians, instructors, shelter, rescue, breeders, anyone involved in assessing dogs for specific purpose or lifestyle, or responsible for making dog/human matches.

  • How long does it take to learn RAT?

    The RAT course content will be dripped out in a way that lets you spend 2-4 hours per week. At that rate, you can complete the course in about 3-4 months. But you have access to the materials for one year, and are free to work at your own pace.

  • I only teach private lessons. Is RAT useful for me?

    RAT is the ideal addition to your training toolkit. When RAT is your initial assessment of the client and dog, you are already shaping up the training plan and knowing what needs to be prioritized.

  • I only teach group classes. Will RAT help me as an instructor?

    RAT is an observation based assessment. This course sharpens your observation skills, helping you to see patterns of interaction, and recognizing how those patterns can help or hinder the relationship. Knowing what each end of the leash needs to improve the relationship is invaluable to group class teachers.

  • Is RAT helpul for shelters & rescues?

    As many have learned, the principles of RAT are powerful tools in making the right match. RAT can be used to assess a handler/dog match, evaluate a handler's skill, assess the dog only, and even help you undertand your staff & their specific skills.

  • I am involved in Animal Assisted Therapy, service dog work, therapy dog work, ESA or other AAI programs. Can RAT help me?

    "Goodness of fit" is a critical component of AAI/AAT programs. Evaluating teams is time consuming, and often organizations find that their current assessments do not provide accurate information. RAT's rapid assessment is ideal for effective and helpful evaluations that are easily administered and shared. Additionally, RAT identifies areas that can be improved, so would-be teams can get to work on those specifics.

  • Does RAT require a special set up or equipment for assessment?

    RAT is observation based, and can be done almost anywhere. No special set up or equipment required, though for organizations doing formal assessments, having a consistent set up makes apple-to-apple comparisons possible.

  • I'm not a professional - can I still learn RAT?

    While RAT is intended as a professional level course, we know that many dedicated folks work in a volunteer capacity for organizations, shelters, training clubs, etc. If you'd like to learn RAT, join us! We love helping dedicated folks learn more so they can do more for dogs and people.

  • Are CEUs available?

    Yes - CEUs are available for IAABC (23) and PPAB (pending). No CEUs for CCPDT (their policy)

What Students are Saying

5 star rating

A Tool for all dog professionals!

Kathi O'Malley

I have LOVED the RAT tool ever since Suzanne first started teaching it. That was many years ago! I was thrilled when she announced she was offering RAT as a self paced online course!! I signed up on the spot and am so glad I did! The group...

Read More

I have LOVED the RAT tool ever since Suzanne first started teaching it. That was many years ago! I was thrilled when she announced she was offering RAT as a self paced online course!! I signed up on the spot and am so glad I did! The group zoom sessions are great, giving us access to Suzanne and each other as we move along the modules! RAT helps you see where the human/canine relationship is out of balance, and gives the professional dog trainer a point of reference to give solid recommendations that will help the handler communicate more effectively to their dogs! I recommend this to all dog professionals as a must have tool for their tool box!

Read Less
5 star rating

A great course for all!

Linda Zegers

RAT gives your mind a great way of looking at and evaluating the relationship between dogs and humans. It gives clear directions and guidelines and helps you to identify all the elements of a relationship. I recommend this course for everybody wh...

Read More

RAT gives your mind a great way of looking at and evaluating the relationship between dogs and humans. It gives clear directions and guidelines and helps you to identify all the elements of a relationship. I recommend this course for everybody who has to do with people and their dogs. All our staff at our assistance dog school are going to take this course. Linda Zegers Hulphond Nederland

Read Less
5 star rating

Take advantage of this excellent educational offering

Jacqueline Moreno

For dogs as to humans and other animals, one key to well being is to be control of behaviour and emotion. It very much depends on the quality of our relationship with those we live with. Assessing the quality of those relationships and work out ho...

Read More

For dogs as to humans and other animals, one key to well being is to be control of behaviour and emotion. It very much depends on the quality of our relationship with those we live with. Assessing the quality of those relationships and work out how some dogs and people are a nice fit is a complex task. If you want to learn how to approach it you need Relationship Centered Training offered by legendary animal trainer and guru Suzanne Clothier. Suzanne has created a detailed and well thought through tool for the rapid appraisal of the quality of a dog-handler relationship, what is good in it and what needs to be repaired and rebuilt. Clothier has a very generous approach to teaching and coaching. It is worth every penny. She offers all the great written material and videos plus live Q&A sessions where people can ask to their heart content and she answers every question. Yes…every question. I have never seen anyone else do that.

Read Less
5 star rating

Up Your game

Tree Schul

Suzanne's RAT course will help you improve as a dog trainer! RAT will not only help you improve your observation skills, but it will also help you make better sense of what you are seeing. You will develop a keen eye for canine and handler body l...

Read More

Suzanne's RAT course will help you improve as a dog trainer! RAT will not only help you improve your observation skills, but it will also help you make better sense of what you are seeing. You will develop a keen eye for canine and handler body language and use these observations to assess areas of positive connection in the relationship, as well as areas that might need focus and improvement. You will learn how to triage aspects of the canine/handler relationship that need improvement and learn how focusing on improving basic, fundamental behaviors can often extinguish a seemingly unrelated, larger behavior problem. The insight and understanding you will gain from the RAT course will improve your overall dog-handling skills and training abilities. I'm so glad I took the course! Tree S.

Read Less
5 star rating

Extremely well organized & taught

Patricia Rapaport

The RAT course was extremely well organized and taught. I have gained so much more understanding on how to assess the relationship between handler and dog. Suzanne provided many examples to view. Our Q&A sessions were helpful. As usual Suzann...

Read More

The RAT course was extremely well organized and taught. I have gained so much more understanding on how to assess the relationship between handler and dog. Suzanne provided many examples to view. Our Q&A sessions were helpful. As usual Suzanne is a wealth of knowledge. I feel very confident that I am able to evaluate the relationships. I am using the methods to help the handlers understand why their connection with their dogs may be falling short. Suzanne gives us tools to also do triage and set up training plans that help meet the handlers’ needs. I highly recommend this course for serious minded trainers or behaviorists!

Read Less
5 star rating

I believe Suzanne is a pioneer in a much needed aspect or our profession

Kirsten Kraljevic

Bob Bailey says "Any trainer can train any behavior using any method given enough time" But do we really know how to help owners solve their relationship problems with their dogs? We all know behavior doesn't happen in a vacuum and it takes two t...

Read More

Bob Bailey says "Any trainer can train any behavior using any method given enough time" But do we really know how to help owners solve their relationship problems with their dogs? We all know behavior doesn't happen in a vacuum and it takes two to tango, that means if you are working with dogs and their handlers, knowing how to train behaviors is never enough. Through RAT, Suzanne has developed a systematic repeatable assessment tool to help you teach yourself to ask the right questions and improve your observation skills as well. She has developed exercises to help you develop your communication skills giving you the tools to communicate with the owner in a down to earth actionable way the very things that can help improve their relationships with their dogs. This stuff is golden and a must have if you are serious about making a difference in the field of dog training.

Read Less

Course Fees

One year access to the course materials, 3 months of instructor support and bi-weekly Q/A with Suzanne via Zoom. CEUs: IAABC-23, PPAB-19. Includes the RAT Assessor Test. Registration open for March 15, 2022 start date.

What Others Say about RAT

“As a trainer, RAT gives me a better understanding of the specific aspects of the relationship of the owner with the dog in front of me so that I can tailor a training program to address those needs, especially from the dog's perspective.”

Cindy Benson, KPA CTP Benson Maremmas

“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 -- See Spot Grin, MD

“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, LICSW, ACSW, CCFT, CCA

Instructor & Creator of RAT

Suzanne Clothier

Senior Instructor

Suzanne Clothier has been working with animals professionally since 1977, 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. First listed in Who’s Who in Dogs back in 1997, she has taught in 11 countries for groups as varied as Assistance Dogs International-NA, Wolf Park, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, FEMA, Alaskan Dog Musher Association, the University of Minnesota’s Nature Based Therapeutics conference, many national and international conferences, and for training groups and clubs. Regarded as an innovative trainer, Suzanne’s work includes: Treat-Retreat - Help for the Socially Shy or Fearful Dog 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 asssessment FAT™ (Functional Assessment Tracking) – 15 dimension functional assessment of individual dog CCC™ (Connection, Cooperation & Control, with Cindy Knowlton) – a puzzle based training program Her tools and materials have been put to use in guide & service dog organizations, in animal assisted therapy, for every day pet owners, and by trainers, breeders, veterinarians, academics and in research. She has served 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. For all of these organizations, her Enriched Puppy Protocol™ and RCT™ techniques have helped them improve their puppy raising programs. Her work has been presented in multiple international conferences, including the International Working Dog Breeder Association conference. She has served as a committee member for the AKC’s Agility Advisory Board, and as a committee member of the American Humane Association’s Task Force for the Development of Humane Standards in Dog Training. Her book, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships With Dogs (Warner, 2002) has received wide spread praise from every corner of the dog world, including twice being included in The Wall Street Journal's list of Top 5 Dog Books. An award winning author of videos, books, booklets and numerous articles, Suzanne’s writings have appeared around the world in countless languages from Danish to Japanese. A German Shepherd breeder, her 10 generations of Hawks Hunt German Shepherds have been successful as competitive performance sports, as well as in Search & Rescue, herding, therapy work and of course as beloved companions. Suzanne lives on an upstate New York with her incredibly tolerant husband John Rice.