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Training an American Bulldog

Certain methods of house training and behavioral training work better with specific breeds. This is a guide about training an American Bulldog.
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By 0 found this helpful
April 4, 2007

I have a 3 and 2 year old American bulldog we adopted and they said they were house trained, but the 2 year old won't go outside at all while the 3 year old is fine. Any suggestions?

Kristin from Cincinnati, OH

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January 11, 20110 found this helpful

I have a 3 and a 2 year old American Bulldog we adopted. They said they were house trained, but the 2 year old won't go outside at all while the 3 year old is fine. Any suggestions?

Kristin from Cincinnati, OH

Answers:

Training an American Bulldog

My AB is almost 11 months old now. I've been reading the posts from this site ever since I got her because like many of you I was frustrated, worried, and tired of the play biting. The bottom line is that the AB is a naturally aggressive, hard-headed breed. However, you can train them to be civil little angels as I'm sure many other owners with older AB's will attest.

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The key is consistency and training. I put mine through early puppy training. These dogs are incredibly smart and respond right away to structured training. Don't feel bad that you can't train them on your own without assistance. They can be difficult at times. Also, be sure to do lots of dominance training/handling training. You are the boss of this dog and he/she needs to know this fact intimately.

Dominance training is essentially ensuring that you are seen as the one who makes the decisions. Touch your AB while they are eating, practice laying the pup on the ground gently, your vet should be able to give you hands-on demonstrations of how to do handling exercises; mine did.

So, all this being said, there is no quick cure to the play biting. Don't allow it or you'll regret it. Provide consistent, firm discipline. Exercise the dog as much as possible. A tired dog is a good dog! The good news is if you do these things, the biting will pass and your dog will love you unconditionally. Ours does. Soon, I will be taking my AB to more training. You can never train a dog too much.

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-*- Happy Bulldoggin' -*-
(04/23/2007)

Training an American Bulldog

The AB's are amazing dogs. Mine is just 4 months. He is potty trained, kennel trained, command trained and knows his hand signals. It has taken me about 2 months to get him to where he is. I have taken him to classes and have done hours of home training. AB's love to learn. You just have to find your babies' "niche".

A friend of mine bought my AB's sister. She is a power house! She doesn't pay a lot of attention when my friend is trying to train her. All she wants to do is play. So we have figured out a trick for training her. We have brought her training into her play time. She has finally caught on to "sit" and "stay" (the stay command drives her nuts!). When she finally catches on to that we will move on to more.

Good luck to you all. Once you get them trained they are awesome!
(06/26/2007)

By Depsgirl

Training an American Bulldog

So guys don't be alarmed. We all have the same problem with our AB. Mine is 11 months old and at some point in his life I was dealing with at least one of the problems listed above. But the good news is, he grew out of everything. No more biting, pottying problems, or chewing problems.

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P>Our dog sleeps in the bed with us every night and is a big part of our family. That's the way I trained him; if he wants to be around us he had to act right. Take your dog places with you. Make him feel loved. If he understands that you are the master, then you could not have picked a better breed! (11/03/2007)

By Wiley from Colts Country

Training an American Bulldog

Kristian, The best way to train them to potty train is to give them praise. Take the dog outside about 15 minutes after they eat and when they go just start giving them praise when I say that say good dog and pet them and get that tail wagging. The cool thing about AB is that they love to please you the master.

(11/06/2007)

By Jason, AZ

Response to Joleen

Do you remember when your two children were only 8 weeks old? Just like infant humans, a puppy is not going to behave like you want them to all the time. You'll have to take the good with the bad.

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Puppies, in general, are a handful. They don't know their own strength, size, or how much those little, razor sharp, teeth hurt. But, as a good pet parent, you will teach them. AB puppies, as I'm sure most will agree, are harder to rein in than most. They are extremely bull-headed, hence the bulldog. Completely normal. My suggestion to you is two-fold.

(1) Definitely invest time and energy in formal training. PetSmart has good puppy classes; that's where I took my little devilette. You may think that you can train him at home, but in the end you won't be happy with your own results.

(2) Please ensure that if your AB pup is around the kids that you are right there, within arm's length. Puppies play bite; that's how they play with their litter mates. Right now, your pup thinks you and the kids are his litter mates. Not good, but normal.

I can't say that the next year-plus won't try your patience; because it will. However, a mature and trained AB is one of the most loyal, obedient, and wonderful companions a pet parent can ask for. That being said, AB's aren't for everyone and you might not have the time or energy to put into ensuring that your lil' guy grows to be a balanced dog. Hope all works out!

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Happy Bulldoggin' (04/25/2008)

By Kirk

Training an American Bulldog

I just got Jada 3 weeks ago. She should be around 10 months to a year old. This is the best dog I've seen. She is so respectful an obedient. She is well trained. The American bull dog has been the best breed for me. (05/24/2008)

By JOSEPH

Training an American Bulldog

I have an 8 month old American Bulldog, who is the sweetest, smartest dog I've ever known. And he isn't even out of his puppy years yet! He does try to test me at times, but I stay calm, confident, and consistent! In that order. I call it the three C's. The 3 C's should come after getting an AB. ABCCC!

My advice if you're getting an American Bulldog, especially a male (males tend to be more clumsy and "rougher" in play), is to not get them too early. I've read some posts where people have gotten their AB's at 5 and 6 weeks. This is not detrimental, however, not wise at the same time. At least wait 8 weeks. I got mine at 10 weeks. The breeder insisted on it. Trust me a few weeks can make the world of difference. Some breeders don't wait until 8 weeks so they won't have to worry about a bunch of puppies running around, which is what they start to do at about that age; this running around and playing is exactly why it's so important to wait.

After about the 4th or 5th week, puppies start playing with their siblings and their mother. This time is crucial in establishing the correct amount of force they should exert while playing. But more so with these breeds, it is the time where they learn: "how" they know "when" they are being too rough! If they played too rough with their fellow siblings, then their siblings would "yelp", in which they would back off.

The mom's would use a very calm, low rumble (not growl) and a stare in the eyes, to express this as well and probably not allow them to play with them anymore (mom's would walk away and lay down somewhere else). So, if you are having a dog that you got around 5 weeks old and he/she is being too rough, it's probably because they never got a chance to learn what "too rough" is exactly.

First, make sure when your ABs play too rough, that you do not correct them in a "punishing" way. If you do that, especially with the other dogs present, they might associate the negative action at the other dogs and not at their rough playing. Or they might associate it with playing in general, and you don't want them to do that either. Second, make sure you are exercising your AB enough. Get their energy out.

They are a working dog, and will work to please, however, if they have too much energy they will want to please you even more. This extra energy and extra need to please might be shown with extra roughness or extra force. If they don't have a job or are not working (exercising), then they feel it's because you as the pack leader, don't think enough of them and so they try to prove their worth to you.

Lastly, understand that similar size dogs would be in the same pack. You can't blame your AB for playing too rough to a Yorkie's standards, which is why it's important to consider all the dogs in your pack before getting a new one. Many people will get a small dog (i.e. Yorkie) to be a "cuddle" dog and then a larger dog (i.e. American Bulldog) to be "guard". Very, very irresponsible. I'll explain later about establishing roles with your dogs.

If it's is being too rough with you or other humans, then look him dead in the eye until he sits and say with a low rumble "no" or I say "too rough". No matter what age you get them, they sometimes are. If he knows how to sit, you almost don't even need to say the word because he knows what you mean by your stare. Then walk away, put the toy up (if you were playing with one) and ignore him. But stay in his sight and go sit somewhere else; besides where the rough play took place.

Then, after some time, go back to playing and repeat action if necessary. You can also turn your back and ignore them in the same way. Don't keep playing and expect him to understand with words alone. He needs to see what should happen when he plays too rough, which is stopping. He will also see from ignoring him, that it displeases the pack leader. If he sees that it displeases you, then he will know that it's not good for the survival of the pack. Pack leaders know best! If you have a really rough one this might take several times. This only works, if consistency is applied. See where the 3C's came into play here. No pun intended.

If the rough playing is with other dogs, first of all, make sure it is playing and not them trying to establish their role and position in the pack. Is the AB standing over the smaller dogs, mounting the other dogs, not letting the other dogs pass them through doors? Things that a dog does to display dominance over another dog that might be mistaken for playing is: rolling over on the back when the other dog is near, pawing, rubbing their lips on them (this might first be thought of as licking, but it's actually a non-aggressive way of saying " I respect you as another dog in this pack, but you're not above me" and "Look I'm "not" licking you. Get it!" Licking is what inferior dogs do to superior dogs".

This dominance display by a larger dog towards a smaller dog sometimes happens because smaller dogs tend to get more attention, picked up, and allowed to sit on furniture than do larger dogs. An alpha dog or a "beta" dog in human homes (betas are second in command), would be more in this position of attention getting. Your dog might be trying to say to you, "See pack leader, I'm stronger, I can protect you better, why are they getting the attention? I should be the beta dog!"

Be consistent and neutral with all the dogs in your pack, because that's what a true pack leader would do. Let your dogs establish their role and then as the pack leader respect it! If one dog shows its dominance above another, then feed it before the other and so on. I know this sounds harsh, but you've got to understand their world. Trust me, the smaller dog will feel better because it will then be able to relax in its new position. It is the job of each individual dog in the pack to establish his or her position.

The pack leader cannot establish this for them. Only intervene if there is a sign of aggression and/or if a dog might get injured. If you prevent your dogs from doing this, then it can lead to aggression because they will become anxious to step up to their role. They will become stressed out because they will feel their pack is not stable due to the fact that all the positions are not filled.

A dog will do whatever they need to do to maintain stability within the pack. In their eyes, their survival depends on it! No matter if we, as humans, find this ridiculous. They don't understand or trust it, unless you step up as pack leader and maintain stability for the pack. If you don't it will domino into: your AB becoming anxious to display his role and irritated more and more to figure out its role.

It takes it out aggressively towards the smaller dog. It gets punished for it by you, and becomes even more aggressive towards the smaller dog and to the pack leader. This is because you are not maintaining stability.Your AB starts trying to bypass the whole pack and become the leader, so the pack can survive! Pay attention to what this "rough play" actually is.

If it is playing, see what the other dogs do to make him "recognize" that he's playing too hard. It's probably a yelp. Hear the exact sound they give, to tell your AB it's being too rough! When they do that, immediately take the AB away and give him another toy to play (don't play with him as well though because this might start a pattern).

When you are playing with him, the moment he gets too rough with you or what you think would be too rough on your smaller dogs, make a similar sound that your other dogs make at this. Turn your back to him and ignore him. After he calms down and becomes submissive (sitting or lying down), then return to play; repeat if necessary.

You have to do these things consistently. They were not conditioned to know this if they were taken from their mothers at 5 weeks. Once the rough play is mostly corrected, because you have to understand they can only decrease it so much due to their breed type, give them some time alone with the other dogs (only if you are in a different room).

See how it goes. But I would never suggest leaving AB's alone with smaller dogs totally. Don't put any of them in that position. Mainly because an AB's innocent play or just their clumsiness could accidentally injure another dog. The blame would then be on the pack leader. They ultimately need their pack leader to keep order and balance. Trust me they don't want to hurt another dog in their pack! That would not be good for the survival of their pack, no matter how small. If you're a good pack leader, then they know all the dogs in their pack are important to their survival. Good luck! (06/21/2008)

By Britt

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April 4, 20070 found this helpful
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