The Puzzles

This CCC course uses the Trixie Poker Box Level 2 food puzzles. They are the cornerstone of our work together. Choose the appropriate link to purchase your puzzle set via Amazon below:

Please – you’ll be tempted to play with your dog and the puzzle when your Trixie first arrives, but wait!  We want to be sure your dog has the most positive experience puzzle possible. We’ll make that happen in the first lesson.

Please - disregard the instructions that come with the puzzle. We will be using another approach. Avoid confusing your dog. It makes his learning difficult.


Suzanne Clothier often says, "if you're hanging onto your dog's body, it's because you've lost his mind!

Chances are good that you're enrolled in CCC because sometimes, that connection isn't as strong as you'd like it to be.  Connection between dog and handler is dynamic.  Sometimes, it's easier to get and keep connection.  At other times, it's harder.

If we want connection, we have to be connected.  If we want our dogs available to us and aware of us, we have to be available to the dog and aware of him.

On your end, there are several goals:

  • become unfailingly attentive to and aware of your dog;

  • learn to balance your attention between your dog and the world around you;

  • learn to be there for your dog when he checks in with you.

On the dog’s part, he will:

  • learn to remain aware of you;

  • balance his attention between you and the world around him;

  • voluntarily check-in with you without being prompted.

Connection has tremendous value for dog and human, but learning how to create that value for both ends of the leash takes some time and effort. CCC will teach you how to find the kind of connection you want – and how to keep it.


Cooperation involves a blending of two agendas – yours and your dog’s – into one common goal. Your agenda generally involves the dog doing something you want him to do, whether or not it suits him. The dog’s agenda is usually focused on things important to the dog – squirrels, sniffing the grass, playing with other dogs.  

Handlers frequently ask, "Why won't my dog do what I want him to do?" and "How can I make him do that?"

Dogs frequently ask, "Why should I do that?" and "Why should I not do that?"  Dogs expect us to provide good answers to these questions.  Our answers sometimes just aren't good enough.  Dogs are most cooperative when they both understand what is expected and see the value in cooperating.

CCC builds your dog’s understanding of the value of cooperating with you. Suzanne Clothier’s Puppy Politeness Poker™ model helps you earn your dog’s cooperation through the use of real life rewards.

Developed by Suzanne to help owners earn their dog’s cooperation without force or the use of equipment, PPP uses real life rewards andintrinsic motivation – motivation that comes from within the dog himself. 

In a nutshell, PPP says to the dog, “If you would like this real life reward, then do this.”

PPP takes advantage of the countless opportunities you have in every day life to practice cooperation.

When you incorporate PPP into every day life, it’s amazing how cooperative and attentive your dog becomes. A foundation of PPP inside the home will make it easier to work with your dog in other ways outside the home. 

Developing Self Control

Chances are good that difficulty controlling your dog is one thing that brought you to this course. CCC tackles control from two aspects:  impulse control skills for the dog, and explicit permission skills for the handler.

Your dog will learn to ask for explicit permission through the Auto Check-in, Suzanne’s technique for teaching your dog to offer unprompted eye contact. You will learn how to use your voice, body language and intent to provide explicit permission. 

The puzzles add the opportunity for your dog to practice impulse control. Like us, dogs must learn impulse control, that they can’t do whatever they want whenever they feel the urge to do it. Like any skill – sit, down, shake, stay – impulse control must be deliberately taught and practiced.

At every step, connection, cooperation and control work together to create a new kind of relationship between you and your dog – deeper, stronger and more satisfying.


In order to help our dogs learn to maintain awareness of us, we need to provide thoughtful, respectful awareness of them as individuals.What you need to know is what pulls your dog’s attention? and how strong is that pull?

For some dogs, a butterfly flitting by might merit a glance of interest but little more. For some dogs, that same butterfly could trigger a headlong chase. For others, a butterfly is nothing, but a buzzing bee might be a sound that excites or alarms the dog.  Still other dogs might be so happy sniffing mouse trails in the grass that the butterfly might as well not even exist.

What draws your dog’s attention away from his connection with you? Understanding what the dog finds interesting, fascinating, thrilling, exciting, scary, worrisome, unbearable, intolerable, terrifying helps you understand what will pull him out of connection with you.

What draws your attention away from your dog? Are you too polite to other people even when it means ignoring your dog? Do email, phone calls or texts trump all else? Are you busy thinking about other things (work, friends, shopping lists, personal issues) instead of your dog? Maybe you feel anxious, embarrassed, irritated, frustrated, upset or even frightened by your dog’s behavior.

CCC helps handlers and dogs learn to balance their awareness, and to split their attention. 

What you'll need to bring to class . . .

  • Trixie puzzle, flip top lid

  • Trixie puzzle, knob top lid

  • Flat buckle or martingale collar or well fitted body harness (not a front clip)

  • a six foot leash

  • a 10-12 foot leash

  • Generous supply of small (about the size of a pea), high quality, easily consumed treats. Soft cat kibble works well. Bring twice as many as you think you'll need, and be sure they're ready to feed to your dog before you arrive.

What's expected of you . . .

Practice, practice, practice!  In addition to regular attendance and participation in class, you should plan to work with your dog at least 5 times each week for 20 minutes each session.  Don't let the week get away from you -- block out your calendar now to make it happen!

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CCC Apparel for You & Your Dog

The enthusiasm of our students inspired us to create a line of embroidered products for the human end of the leash. Save this so you can return to them if you find the power of Connection, Cooperation & Control™ worth wearing and sharing. (Note: apparel does not ship outside the US & Canada.)

The CCC Apparel Store