Customer Reviews: Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog A 3-Step Positive Dog-Training Program
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on April 22, 2010
This is a well written easy to follow dog training book. I particularly like how the author spends time in the beginning talking about how to match one's personality with their dog's personality. Other dog training books I've tried have talked about being an assertive leader for your dog, but haven't talked about how a passive personality and a dominate dog personality will clash. This author makes it clear that if you are a low energy and passive person you'll be happier with an older dog and one that is also passive or shy, and your dog will be happier too.

She also spends a good amount of time explaining how much exercise is required for a dog and challenging the reader to examine if his/her lifestyle is compatible with having a dog. She also makes several good points about how one's level of activity should match the dog's level of activity. Particularly if you are gone all day and don't have energy for an active dog, you'd do better with an older dog. She makes a great case for adopting older dogs which has really made me rethink the myth that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

The training section is easy to read and the steps are broken down so that they are easy to follow and implement. I particularly like her reminders to remain calm, clear, and consistent. The book has lots of real life cases and how the author has helped people overcome issues with their dogs. I find these extremely helpful in understanding why my dogs behave as they do and how my fears, anxieties and emotions impact their behavior.

Particularly helpful in this book is that the author gives lots of examples of how we inadvertently reinforce negative behavior by giving in to our dogs. Many of the dog books I've read talked about being the leader, but this author shows how we undermine our leadership in our house and elsewhere and what we can do to get it back. A good example is how when your dog wants something and barks we give it, then we end up having a dog that barks excessively because we've always given them attention or the reward when they bark. She gives some very good ways to stop such behavior by redirecting the dog and leaving the room, and making the dogs wait until their calm before giving them food, and attention.

All in all I found the book VERY helpful. We have 3 dogs of various ages and I've seen a dramatic change in our dog's behavior when I remember to be calm. The book has made it clear to me how we have confused our dogs by our family members giving in and not being consistent and now that we have started to work together as a family on being consistent with the dogs it has helped a great deal.
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on March 26, 2012
I ordered this book as a companion to My Smart Puppy and read that one first. Maybe it's unfair to compare them but this book really falls short of the two. For one, the other book is very well organized separating each chapter into levels according to how much your dog already knows. They are further separated into sections regarding the types of exercises you do, for example "space" exercises which teach your dog to respect your boundaries whether in regard to your person or the cookies on the kitchen counter.

This book is very loosely organized, one minute you could be covering house breaking and the next you could be covering relaxation techniques (for you, not your dog!) You really need to read this cover to cover to get all the pertinent information regarding one topic or stage of your dog's development, you can't just refer to a chapter or you'll miss something. Sections tend to bleed together and there's quite a bit of redundancy and rambling. For example, the author pushes exercise all throughout the book. Exercise is important, obviously, but it gets mentioned repeatedly in a way that sounds like she has already prejudged you to be a lazy owner who doesn't exercise their dog enough. Since I don't even have a dog yet, and this is not Ms. Cleo from the Psychic Hotline, I found this condescending and annoying to read again and again.

When it comes to the relaxation techniques for people (not your dog) I think it's wholly unnecessary to talk about yoga, diet, or what have you. I get that in order to be a good teacher to my dog, I need to be calm and keep anxiety, anger, tension, etc. out of my verbal and physical commands; that's good advice. I don't need an entire section to tell me how to relax. Everybody is inevitably going to get frustrated sometimes, but I'm not going to break into the crouching lotus position in the middle of the dog park. The other book gives some practical advice in this respect: take a deep breath and then take a break. Don't teach angry, always end training sessions upbeat, and keep them short leaving your dog wanting more. This is the practical advice I'm looking for. There is way too much nonsense in this book.

The worst thing about this book is the lack of exercises. You don't start learning commands until halfway in and then it stops again to go over more theory, only to go on to a tricks section. This is not a complete enough training program to cover all or even most the challenges people frequently have with dogs and puppies. The other book covered everything I could think of and more, including alternative solutions on what to do if your dog acted unexpectedly causing you to fail to an exercise. It tells you exactly how to break down the command into even smaller steps that your dog could more easily accomplish if it couldn't understand it all in one go. I have had some (sweet) dogs who were dumb as bricks so I can anticipate how useful this would be.

In short, this is not a very complete book, contains entirely too much theory and not enough practical advice. I would definitely not recommend this to anybody who is raising a puppy for the first time.
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on June 1, 2010
Wow! What a great book! I have a nearly 2-year-old dog, who recently started some annoying behavior, like barking at strange sounds and not stopping (especially at night!). I thought we would have to start another round of expensive dog training courses when I discovered this book. What a gem! It taught us not only how to stop the bad behavior but also how to teach our dog a number of other really useful commands, like how to stop him from chewing my daughter's toys! We really like the author's positive-reinforcement approach to training as well as her step-by-step, clearly outlined directions. It's a very easy to use book! More importantly, it works! It's also very comprehensive (offering everying from how to choose the "right" dog for your family, to training basic and advanced commmands, as well as recommending a bunch of fun stuff to do with your dog!) We recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of getting a dog and to those who want to teach their old dog some new tricks!
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on November 25, 2013
Not a bad book, but she really has no advice you haven't heard a million times. But I'm writing this because the book states, "Anytime you have a question about your new pet, just go to my site and I'll be sure to answer it personally." How nice. Don't hear that much in this hustle bustle society. So you do that, and she's got a PayPal set up at $25 an answer. Ah, American consumerism. Can't get enough of it.
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on June 24, 2010
I purchased this book for an aunt who was having trouble disciplining an older dog she'd recently adopted. I was frustrated seeing her struggle with her own form of obedience training. I'd sought help in prior years with pets, so I thought I'd seek out a good guide for my aunt. My aunt, an immigrant, had communication issues of her own, and being around her and her pet made me nervous. I said, "enough was enough," and got her Julie Bjelland's book.

To date, gone are the days when my aunt's dog is confused and my aunt frustrated. Julie lays out a very good outline for dog ownership from beginning to end - starting from preparing for life with a dog to whether one's lifestyle would be a better fit for a puppy or older dog. I thought this was great, as I wanted my aunt to realize that there were different types of dogs for different types of lifestyles.

I especially love that Julie also outlined what tools were going to be needed, budgets of ownership, crate training, commands, leadership. Wow, I couldn't have found a more efficient and quick lifesaver for my own sanity and I'm sure my aunt's. Now both dog and human are more sane and happy in knowing their roles. I think that this book is authoritative, calm, and carries with it an air of true help for dogs and their human companions. The author is very qualified and knowledgeable and I think this book was worth the investment many times far and above the price. I also appreciated that the book was practical for the average person to understand. What a great guide from someone who trained guide dogs! Fantastic!!
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on December 23, 2011
This book helps with problem solving and basic training. I have read it a few times and marked notes throughout the whole thing. It will be a book you can read every page of and each one with relate to you in some way. I have 4 other dog training books and none come close to this one. Save your money by purchasing this book FIRST!!!
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on July 28, 2012
'Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog' is practical and effective guide that has been working very well for me to train my 5 month English Cocker spaniel, who came to me a month ago. Author Julie A. Bjelland tackles the subject of living with and training a dog as an integrated part of the dog-owner's life. Bjelland has an online website (Google her name to get to her website) where she personally answers questions about difficult to tackle situations from those who apply the methods in her book. This can be a most useful support, although I have not used that facility as yet.

A key point that the author makes is that dogs react to owners' moods, and in order to have a dog with a calm and balanced behavior, one needs to balance and harmonize oneself as well. The truth of this can be verified through practical experience. Some reviewers seem to have misunderstood this very important point and taken it as pop psycho-analysis, which it is most certainly not. Another reviewing complaint is that there is too much reliance on giving food treats. The author has made it amply clear that the dog in training should always be appropriately praised and petted for every successful command followed and that this is to be used more than food treats. The food treats are recommended for establishing basic behavioral changes and as incentives for learning new things, and also as rewards, along with the constancy of plenty of praise and affection.

I have lived with a number of dogs many years ago, and worked with dog experts including show-dog trainers for my dogs. My first dog was an English Cocker spaniel and re-acquainting myself with living with a young spaniel after a gap of decades, I can recommend this book to be a most suitable and easy to follow guide for anyone who has a pet dog with or without previous experience living with a dog. An excellent book to add to the experience of living with a well-behaved dog is Dr. Michael W. Fox's Healing Touch for Dogs: The Proven Massage Program. (I got the Kindle edition; also available in paperback). As a dog owner one instinctively 'pets' or massages the animal and this is usually a great bonding experience. Fox's easy-to-understand methods take massage to a different level and this really helps calm and relax a dog, adding to the well-being of both owner and dog! The techniques have also helped heal animals suffering from hip dysplasia and arthritis with significant pain relief, and return to mobility.

Julie A. Bjelland's "Imagine Life with a well-Behaved Dog" is a training guide with lots of practical wisdom. Highly recommended as a compassionate and intelligent source of practical knowledge on dog training.
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on August 23, 2012
This book basically breaks down training into three phases of sorts. There is basic training, the most basic level of understanding on the part of dog and owner followed by two more parts which are essentially levels that you graduate to as your dog learns. Each level teaches the same commands just at a deeper level, demanding more from both dog and owner. Things with dogs and training happen in stages, or so I have discovered. My dog may have walking with me on leash down pat , but has consistency issues with another training exercise- so I would go back to stage one and re-establish the basic core of commands covered. Basically strengthening your dog's base understanding of obedience. I feel like this review is not doing the book justice. I can only say that as a dog owner I find this book extremely helpful to me and my understanding of how to strive to be a better trainer for my dog. After all it is mostly the owner who has to do the real learning to be an effective trainer for their dog. If you are willing to accept that you - the owner maybe 80% of why your dog is or is not learning something, then you have a chance of really learning that with a few alterations you can become a better trainer and have a more responsive dog, that in the long run is better behaved.
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on October 29, 2013
This book is a life saver. I was super nervous about getting a puppy and training it... until I read this book. Bjelland writes in such a down to earth, accessible tone that I was not intimidated by the content at all. The author has some great training tips that I have found very helpful when training my dog. If you follow the guidelines laid out in this book you will have the best behaved dog on the block! I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone I know that has a dog or is thinking about getting a dog. Makes for a great gift to that person with the ill behaved dog so you can subtly, or not, let them know you hate their dogs behavior.
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on April 4, 2011
My family adopted a corgi mix who'd been through quite a few homes in his short 3 years. Though he was moved around often, our pup was superbly behaved. But, he came with a few behavioral issues that we needed to understand. After watching several online tutorial and reading blogs and articles of local dog trainers, I was more confused than when I first brought our dog home. I tried several tricks and nothing worked. He just became more wiley, and my family more frustated. I wanted to nurture our dog and teach him obedience in a manner that would help him, not hinder his progress. It seemed everything out there was telling humans they are stupid for not understanding dogs... and stupid for not mastering dog obedience within minutes of trying.

When I found Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog, I felt it was the right book for my dog and me. That's exactly what I wanted. I didn't want a dog who behaved out of fear, but because he wanted to live a happy life. I downloaded it on my Kindle and was swallowed whole until late in the night. I read through each chapter with a voracious head-nod because it all made sense. Finally, someone was telling me it wasn't going to be easy. My dog wasn't going to get it right away, and I that I just needed to work diligently with him.

Not only that, but she offered the single best advice that no one else ever offered... to exercise my dog more. Sure, we went for walks, but he's high energy and needed more than that. Who knew?

Everything I implement into my dogs life from this book works. And well. I taught my dog to lay down in 24 hours with encouragement and good praise. He's learning to walk well on leash after a whole month of being dragged around my neighborhood. This is all within days of reading the book.

The author didn't provide magic solutions to cure my dog's behavior. She taught me to read my dog's body language and understand his needs. Through that, we are working together to create a nurturing environment in which he thrives. And a thriving dog is a well-behaved dog. Remove the stress, practice with patience, and understand what your dog needs. This is what she teachers.

Thanks so much to this incredible book. It has changed my relationship with my dog and he is learning so much in such a short time... more importantly I AM learning so much about him.
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