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Suzanne Clothier

As part of its commitment to enriching this community and deepening its knowledge of pet training and handling techniques, Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile is proud to host world-renowned Dog Trainer, Suzanne Clothier May 15th-17th in Spokane, WA, with three days of seminars! See below for a detailed description of each day’s seminar, as well as ticket package options! 

Ready to buy? Click HERE

Can we ever know enough about these amazing friends? So much they tell us, if we know how to listen!

Understanding our dogs is an endless and fascinating journey. If you’d like to know WHY your dog is doing this or that, this is the seminar for you, taught by Suzanne Clothier, the trainer that the late R.K. Anderson, DVM called “the best observer of dogs I’ve ever seen.”

There is a wonderful Cuban saying: “Inside every head, a world.” This sums up beautifully how many ways there are to experience life, and how each of us has our own perceptions. See the Dog: The Elemental Questions is a workshop that explores many ways to see how dogs can tell us about the world inside their heads.

How the dog responds to life is highly individual, blending temperament with personality and history — and of course, the environment and others around him. Understanding the dog within the context of this complex blend of information helps handlers work to modify and adapt their handling and goals for enhanced relationships and better performance.

Whatever your training goals or sport, the Elemental QuestionsTM help you truly “see the dog” and provide the detailed information about each animal as he is. This is where truly humane training is grounded: in detailed knowledge about the individual dog.

Suzanne’s simple but powerful Elemental Questions are:

  • Hello? Looks at the dog’s social interactions
  • Who are you? Asks about how the dog perceives and responds to his world
  • How is this for you? Asks about the immediate situation and the dog’s mental, physical & emotional balance, includes an introduction to FAT (Functional Assessment Tracking)
  • Can you…? Looks at the dog’s physical abilities & limitations
  • May I…? Seeks ways to gain the dog’s cooperation and permission
  • Can we…? Balancing the dog/handler team’s abilities and limitations against goals

For each dog, the answers to these questions provide a wealth of information to those interested in helping that dog be all that he can be. While easily listed, these six questions provide a world of discovery.

Handlers will be able to fine tune their training approach, better understand the behavior or training challenges presented by each dog, and appreciate the qualities that contribute to or strain a relationship. For instructors, trainers, veterinarians and professional caretakers, the practical applications of observing handler, dogs and their interactions helps you help the dog/handler team.

It seems a simple goal: an enjoyable, mutually rewarding relationship with dogs. But like the proverbial brass ring, this kind of dog/human relationship can seem out of reach. No matter how many training books you read, no matter how many classes you attend, no matter which equipment and techniques you try, you find yourself still confused, even frustrated with a dog. In a forest of information, it’s hard to find the path that will lead to better relationships.

This workshop presented by Suzanne Clothier offers practical tools for finding the appropriate path to better dog/human relationships. As always, Suzanne’s work focuses on keeping the relationship central, respecting the individual dog and human, and aiming for a mutually satisfying connection.

Emphasis will be placed on

  • Shared perspectives – empathy & understanding & the training game Fruits & Veggies
  • Observation skills & If/Then Training – really seeing the dog and handler in detailed ways
  • The Elemental Questions – questions and answers that reveal the dog as an individual
  • The Think & Learn Zone – arousal, Goldilocks and “sticky” dogs
  • Volitional Behavior & Postures – what your dog can tell you about his internal state

Which path is the right one for you and your dog? Suzanne’s approach to assessing the challenges leads logically to which practical RCT techniques can be combined for effective, humane and satisfying results.

Suzanne will be using selected case history dogs (and their handlers!) to help attendees learn how to assess behavior, training & performance issues.

SUNDAY, MAY 17TH 9:00-5:00

“He was fine until . . .” Sometimes, it seems like there is an invisible switch that gets flipped, and your dog shifts from cooperative or calm to disconnected, disengaged and maybe even out of control. Your dog seems calm but then suddenly is anxious, afraid, trying to get away. What happened?

Chances are good that triggers, thresholds and transitions are at work, affecting behavior in ways both subtle and dramatic.

Like the captain of the Titanic who was warned about the icebergs, trainers sometimes ignore the very real behavioral icebergs: transitions, thresholds & triggers. The result can just be annoying, or a significant problem that prevents enjoyment, cooperation and healthy relationships.

Whether Buster’s going bonkers at the door or blowing you off in the ring, the same behaviors and concepts are involved. Suzanne’s approach focuses on the fundamentals of arousal, attention, communication and behavioral flexibility.

This seminar will help you learn:

  • the value of the Think & Learn Zone (TLZ)
  • Anchorthe anatomy of attention (a limited resource!)
  • how to handle reactive, fearful, shy or easily triggered dogs
  • to recognize triggers
  • to distinguish training opportunities from management moments
  • how to promote mental & behavioral flexibility

Is a quiet distraction-free location necessary? What makes a good training situation? How do transitions change your dog’s behavior? Should a dog always be “below threshold”? Are thresholds physical, mental, emotional or all of the above?

Trainers who understand transitions, thresholds and triggers can effectively assess and meet the dog’s needs in any situation. Each dog needs specific skills to help them safely negotiate their own personal “icebergs be here!” situations. And handlers need the skills to avoid playing captain of the Titanic.

Join us and find out how to find that sweet spot where learning is easy and fun. Whether you’ve got a brand new puppy, a new-to-you rehome, or a seasoned performer, this seminar will offer many “aha!” moments that will keep you and your dog sailing along smoothly.

Selected case history dogs will be used for demonstration.


Just like our favorite dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes, so do our ticket package options! Whether you're looking for a pint-sized package to serve as an introduction, or you want all the perks, we've got a package that covers it! Plus, all ticket packages include all meals for the event!


This VIP early bird package is only available to the first 36 registrants, so sign up quickly! This package includes all three days of seminars, with all meals included, as well as dedicated seating at a table near the front of the event space (non-VIP tickets will have a chair only--no table), as well as merchandise discounts and other perks!


This early bird package is available to the first 75 registrants, and only available until March 15th--after that, prices will go up! This package includes all three days of seminars, plus all meals!


Missed early bird pricing? No worries! You can still get access to all three days of seminars, plus all meals for a great price!


Not able to make it to the Friday evening lecture? This is the package for you! Access to all day Saturday and Sunday, plus meals for both days!


Wanting to get an introduction to Suzanne’s teaching, but not able to attend the whole weekend? This is the pint-sized package for you! Admission to the Friday evening lecture, plus dinner!

To purchase event tickets, click HERE


This year’s seminar will take place in the lower level of the Washington State University Extension Building, located at 222 N. Havana St, Spokane, WA 99202. There will be free parking available on site. There are several hotels that are less than 10 minutes from the venue, including

Holiday Inn Express Spokane Valley

Fairfield Inn & Suites

Baymont by Wyndham Spokane Valley


Cancellations made 60 days or more in advance of the event will be fully refunded. Any cancellations made less than 60 days in advance are not eligible for refunds, however paid tickets may be transferred to another person. For more information or to notify Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile of cancellation, email

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