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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The second part of the CARAT Workshop with Suzanne Clothier

In January 2011 I attended first part of CARAT 1 Workshop with Suzanne Clothier, an author of the bestseller  Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with the Dogs. This was followed by an online course, which was quite time-consuming but also very educational.

This weekend I am attending the second part of the CARAT I workshop. Some participants came from far away places such as British Columbia, Montana and Colorado.  Luckily for me we live only an hour from Suzanne Clothier and John Rice's place.

For more details about CARAT (The Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool) go to Suzanne's website. More info is also available here. As Suzanne writes:

"CARAT looks at behavior traits and their interactions: sociability (people & dogs), persistence, patience, biddability, social tolerance (people & dogs), awareness (visual, kinesthetic, olfactory, auditory), reactivity (speed & effect, VAKO), arousal, resilience, energy, social use of space (people & dogs), exploratory, confidence (several categories), reliability, self modulation, and impulse control.

CARAT is unique in its recognition that a response to any given stimulus can either inhibit or activate the animal, attract the animal or create avoidant behavior, and that the distinction between the two is critical in understanding the individual. For example, a dog who reacts quickly and avoidantly to a sudden noise is demonstrating a different response than a dog who reacts quickly and towards the same noise.

The CARAT profile defines what lifestyle, job or demands might be most suitable for a specific dog, and what situations or handlers or expectations might be unfair, distressing or unproductive for this individual animal. Additionally, CARAT can aid in the selection of dogs for a specific purpose, handler or environment. CARAT profiles also will prove helpful for breeders seeking a phenotypical assessment for breeding stock."

Today we reviewed CARAT traits, and then sharpened our observational skills. Since CARAT is a universal assessment system today we observed cattle and donkeys.Suzanne and John live on a working farm and they raise the Highland Scottish cattle. We observed two calves, Poppy and Willow, in a novel situation when they were exposed to unfamiliar objects. As it turned out Poppy, even though younger than Willow, showed more more adaptive and functional behaviors.

Suzanne Clothier watches Poppy, who investigates a bucket that she has never seen before.

Poppy explores a white sheet of plastic.
Aren't they majestic?
Suzanne Clothier with one of the donkeys.
John Rice is an author of Following Ghosts and accomplished Search & Rescue Handler.

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