Toolbox For Building a Great Family Dog


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What’s it about?

In The Toolbox for Building a Great Family Dog, Terry presents a complete guide to help families raise a happy and well-mannered dog using techniques and games that are both fun and effective. Though this is a new book with a new focus, some will recognize parts from several of Terry’s previous books, the original Toolbox For Remodeling Your Problem Dog, Coaching People To Train Their Dogs and The Bark Stops Here. The focus of this book is the family dog and all that phrase implies including the interactions between kids and dogs, household management strategies, common behavioral problems and training games the whole family (and dog!) can enjoy.

More about the Author

 Terry Ryan is one of the most well-known figures in the world of positive dog training. She has been a mentor to a generation of trainers world-wide.

When was it published? 2010

Who published it? Dogwise Publishing


Illustrations- Black and white cartoon drawings


“A well trained dog is a good addition to a happy family. “The Toolbox: For Building a Great Family Dog” is a guide for those who want to help their dogs be more harmonious with their family with simple training techniques. With tips on understanding the dog and understanding what needs to be done for one’s family and more, Terry Ryan creates a very useful compendium of information. “The Toolbox” is not a read to be overlooked and ignored for dog and family lovers.” James A. Cox

“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.” Ranny Green, former president of the Dog Writers Association of America

“…Terry Ryan’s THE TOOLBOX FOR BUILDING A GREAT FAMILY DOG provides families with all tools needed to train a dog. The family dog is the focus here – which includes interactions between kids and the dog, the entire family’s training skills, and more”. James A. Cox

“I’ve always been a great admirer of Terry Ryan — she has wonderfully creative ways to communicate and teach clients. Her original “Toolbox” was one of the first books out there using positive methods and, as was true for many of the early positive trainers, it was a great help in developing my philosophies and teaching methods. I was very excited when I heard she had updated this classic, and was thrilled to be the one to review it. When I was thinking about how to approach this review, I originally thought I would do a comparison/contrast with the original book; but, because this book reflects the evolutions of dog training from the days of her original book to this one, I decided I would simply judge this book on its own merit. This book is targeted toward dog owners, but there’s so much good information that I would recommend this book for trainers new to the field as well. Even if they already understand the training and management concepts, the way Ryan approaches these issues will aid them in their interactions with clients. Ryan uses the concept of “building” in an almost literal sense. She divides the book into chapters such as “The Raw Material,” “Building Supplies,” and “The Main Floor,” and covers everything from evolution to learning principles to training to problem behaviors, all in a way that owners will understand! Here’s a breakdown of the chapters, to give you an idea of just how much is included in this book:

  • The Raw Material – dog behavior
  • The Drawing Board – principles of positive reinforcement
  • Building Supplies – equipment
  • The Foundation – relationship building
  • The Main Floor – management, enviroment and basic training
  • The Second Floor – more training
  • Remodeling – problem behaviors

This book is very much about relationship between dogs and owners, and this is an area in which Ryan excels. She has true empathy for everyone involved in this process. She consistently comes up with fun, practical exercises and explanations to help the owner grasp the concepts we struggle to get accross. Come to think of it, even experienced trainers will benefit from these ideas! “Toolbox” is an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand book that packs a big wallop of practical information. This is a book that I will recommend to my clients and professional dog trainer students.” Susan Smith, co-author of Positive Gun Dogs: Clicker Training for Sporting Breeds


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