Bulldogs, or any of the bully breeds for that matter, require a special hand (and patience!) when training. A bully can be the best dog that you ever owned; they are loyal, devoted and very intelligent. However, they can also be a little obstinate. In short, they can be rather hard headed. But if you have the patience and you know how to work with your dog, you can have a very well behaved pet. There are, though, a few things that you should know about when training a bulldog puppy.
One of the most common complaints of owners of bulldogs or bully breeds is that they can be very exuberant. These are not little dogs, so when they jump on you in their excitement to see you, they can hurt you. Even though you are glad that your pup is so happy to see you, you do need to set some boundaries. When your dog or pup rushes to greet you, jumping up and pawing at you, you first need to realize why they are doing it. Simply put, they want attention. The thing is that they can not really tell the difference between your petting them and your yelling at them – it’s all attention to them. This is particularly true if you yell or correct them, then pet them. That is when it becomes a system. They see it as they jump, you yell and your reward them. This only encourages them to jump up on you.
Instead, when your dog gets all excited, jumping up on you, immediately turn your back on him, cross your arms and refuse to look at him. When he calms down, reward him by petting him and talking to him. If he gets excited again, repeat the process. Eventually he will get the message.
When you are training a bulldog puppy, it is much easier if you bond with them. Bullys are very people oriented and are happiest when they are curled up next to their human. When they bond with you, they will follow you from room to room, lying at your feet or at your side. They will hang on your every word and look at you with those eyes (if you have a bully, you know that look). A dog that has bonded to you will be very eager to please you.
Another important characteristic of bullys is that they are very intelligent, but they definitely have a mind of their own. When you tell a bully to do something, they have a tendency to give you “that look.” If you have your own bully, you know that look well. While non bully owners interpret that look as one of dullness or stupidity, bully owners know that that look means the dog is processing what they will gain from actually doing what you ask. They are deciding if they should actually do it or not. Welcome to the bully mentality!
A frustrating characteristic of bullys is that they can be, well, hard headed. When you are training a bulldog puppy, the main thing is to keep at it until your pup does what you want. Don’t burn him out, though; keep your training sessions short to match his attention span. For young pups, five minutes is good and may even be pushing it. As the dog gets older, you can increase the training time. However, when you dog begins to break eye contact or seems bored, take a break.
Training a bulldog puppy can be challenging, they do have minds of their own, but it can also be very rewarding. The more you train them and demand from them, the more they will respect you. A well trained dog respects it owner. You will have to achieve and maintain alpha dog status, but once you do, you will have a companion that is devoted to you.