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The toolbox for raising happy, well-mannered dogs

The toolbox for raising happy, well-mannered dogs


for the Sequim Gazette

After many requests for an out-of-print book published in 1998, Terry Ryan decided it was doggone time to revise and reprint her training manual.

"The Toolbox for Building a Great Family Dog" is a complete guide to help families raise a happy and well-mannered dog using techniques that are both fun and effective. The focus of the book is the "family" dog, including interactions between children and dogs, household management strategies, common behavioral problems and training games the whole family - including the dog - can enjoy.

Unlike the original version - "The Toolbox for Remodeling Your Problem Dog" - the book focuses on preventing problem behaviors rather than on fixing them.

"In our community here on the Olympic Peninsula the two main problems I'm trying to avoid are home alone issues - like barking or acting out - and reactivity issues - like low self-confidence."

Ryan trains using gentle, reward-based methods.

"English is a second language to dogs and we need to explain what we mean," Ryan said, emphasizing that communication is a two-way street. "Instead of just teaching dogs our language - sit, come, stay - we need to understand their language, too."

The book is dedicated to Gus, a local canine that inspired Ryan and others for many years.

Gus is a 15-year-old American Cocker Spaniel who was rescued by Jenni Dix. Before he was rescued at the age of four months, Gus was in three different homes.

"When I first got Gus, not knowing any better, I worked with trainers who advocated the use of force to train animals," Dix said. "I wasn't really comfortable with these methods and Gus didn't do well either."

Shortly after, Dix met Ryan and discovered reward-based training methods. Together, Dix and Gus flourished.

"Terry's enthusiasm and gentle ways with people and dogs really appealed to me and not only did Gus benefit, (but) so did I," Dix said. "I began to volunteer for Terry and Bill, later became a trainer for them, and after 12 years I am still training dogs and people at Legacy."

Though Gus is an extraordinary dog, there's nothing extreme about his training experience, Ryan said. Any dog can experience the same growth using reward-based training methods, she insisted.

Ryan has been training and

instructing since 1968. At Legacy Canine Behavior & Training - which she founded in 1975 to promote humane dog training - Ryan and her staff teach community classes including puppy head start,

pet dog manners and behavior-problem consultations. They also conduct continuing education courses such as agility, freestyle, scent work and training games.

Ryan started teaching in Japan in 1990. At first, she spent six to eight weeks a year in Japan. Now, she makes regular short visits to work with several different organizations there.

Ryan has written more than 300 articles on dog training, including pieces for national dog magazines such as the American Kennel Club Gazette, Dog Fancy, Off Lead and Clean Run Agility. Her books and booklets include "Puppy Primer," "Leadership Education for Anyone with a Dog," "The Bark Stops Here" and "Outwitting Dogs."

For more information, go online to

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