Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool

“ethology of the individual”TM



CARAT Assessors are proficient at reading dog body language and are notable for their compassion and detailed approach to the individual animal.  Mastering CARAT required several years of dedication and practice. Certification serves to recognize the study and effort put forth by the certified assessor in developing their skills and to ensure that the individual demonstrates proficiency in both the theoretical and practical applications of CARAT.



  • Determine if the dog is a good fit for you and your family.

  • Identify what sport or task your dog will be successful at.
  • Identify what tasks will be challenging or problematic for this dog.

  • Understand how your dog will respond in different environments.
  • Identify if this dog will be safe around family and friends.



Developed by Suzanne Clothier in 2007, CARAT (Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool) is a novel assessment system that categorizes behavior traits in multiple components that are intuitive and practical.

CARAT takes a detailed view of the individual dog as a unique combination of many factors working together to influence, exacerbate, mitigate and enhance each other. In the profile created by the nuances and specifics of this complex interaction of multiple traits, an accurate picture is created of the individual, regardless of breed or age.

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 avoidant to a sudden noise is demonstrating a different response than a dog who reacts quickly and towards the same noise.

At all times, behavior is assessed according to how productive, functional, or adaptive it may be, with a full understanding that what may be productive, functional or adaptive in one context may not be in another context. For example, there would be great differences in the CARAT profiles for a successful guide dog, competitive agility and a suitable companion for an elderly person with mobility issues.


What Does CARAT Assess?

CARAT looks at these main categories and specifics of temperament traits:

  • CORE:  Arousal, Resilience, Energy
  • SOCIAL: Sociability, Social Tolerance, Social Use of Space
  • SENSORY: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory
  • PERSISTENCE: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, Predatory/Chase
  • INTERACTIVE:  Patience, Biddability w/Familiar, Biddability w/Stranger
  • Complex traits:  Social Confidence, Environmental Confidence, Self Modulation

How Is CARAT Scored?

CARAT is a scoring tool, meant to be used in conjunction with tests created by Suzanne Clothier in 2007, and adapted by various guide & service dog schools as well as others. CARAT may also be utilized to assess dog behavior in informal settings, as well as under other testing situations. Because CARAT is based in observation and patterns of response, it is broadly applicable in any setting where a dog can be observed.

CARAT is scored on a bi-directional, exponential failure scale that places a score of 0 at the mid-point as adaptable, productive behavior. Scores occur at or away from the mid-point of 0 increases in half-points to a maximum of -4 (left shift away from 0) or +4 (right shift). Complex traits are scored on 0-5 scale. Every score point has operational terms of observable behavior, helping to keep scoring consistent.


I can help you choose the right puppy for your family

Violet girl – Shy, hesitant, resilient
Although worried about the new environment, she improved quickly.
She will need a patient owner to socialize her.
She will be easy to train as she loves food, in familiar settings.
She is not very social with unfamiliar, but does enjoy petting.
Fairly patient but whined a bit
Playful pup who showed no guarding

Teal girl – Social, confident, energetic, resilient
She will navigate any environment and greet people willingly
Easy to train and very agreeable
She is not a patient girl
hesitant with noise
Performance dog (her patience is too low for Therapy)

Blue boy – Shy, environmentally worried, has his own agenda, guarding possible
He will greet people with prompting, enjoys petting (should test him with kids)
He needs support in most new settings and may take flight if frightened
Needs slow greetings with dogs – no daycare
Will likely chase squirrels, cats and maybe cars.
Will need an experienced owner to teach fetch and drop to avoid guarding

Green boy – Social, environmentally confident, easy
He will navigate any environment and greet people when called
Easy to train as he is very agreeable
Appeared dog friendly
Fine with kids petting and showed no auditory sensitive
Easy dog for first time dog owner

Cole boy – Shy with people, environmentally worried, has his own agenda, pushy, guarding possible
Needs support in most new settings, improves quickly.
Social if prompted, and does not enjoy petting from strangers
Will do well with dogs
May enjoy chasing squirrels and cats, has a full mouth grip.
Will need an experienced owner to teach fetch and drop to avoid guarding
Fear Free Vet care is recommended for gentle body handling.