“The Toolbox for Building a Great Family Dog”

By Terry Ryan. Dogwise Publishing. $16.95.


Before we go any further, I admit it; I’m a huge Terry Ryan fan. Noted for her positive approach to dog training, the Sequim instructor impresses even more in this nicely illustrated manual, emphasizing  she has shifted gears the past decade.


Not satisfied to coast on her many accomplishments in the 1990s, Ryan notes in the introduction, “I’ve taken a more proactive attitude in the last decade, developing new puppy programs and pet dog foundation exercises to try to circumvent the ‘problems’ people have been talking to me about for the last forty-something years.”


The focus here is on relationship building with your dog, home environment and lifestyles, all critical frontiers for forging a lifetime commitment to your dog.


Ryan’s reputation with me increases mightily by embracing change rather than ignoring it.


Understanding dogs’ body language – their chief communication tool – is key in building and strengthening a relationship. Understanding them, she emphasizes, has grown to a multi-professional approach that includes veterinarians, biologists, psychologists, ethologists and many others outside the dog-training arena.


After opening with a general chapter on dog behavior, Ryan pulls out the tools needed to build a firm foundation and relationship with your dog. To reach the objective of a well-mannered, fun-loving dog, her keen training skills combine effective work exercises with fun and engaging games.


The stimulating narrative is literally packed with “homework” worthy of continual review, from the main floor to the second floor and through the remodeling chapter. Plus, this “Toolbox” is equipped with an author’s resilient, can-do spirit built around an earthy and engaging delivery that nails (pun intended) one challenge after another spot on.