How To Train Your Bulldog

Bulldogs In Training

Bulldog Training: All You Need Is a Little Dedication and Nerves Of Steel!

Considering training, you’ll find it’s much better to start out with a puppy than an adult as an adult Bulldog has already acquired a set of learned behaviours. The family life and training an older bully has received from his original owners has in a sense, become engraved in his mind and determine his temperament and reaction to obedience training. Sadly, some of these learned behaviours may have little hope of being reversed, but many of them can quickly be redeemed. Bulldog puppies on the other hand, are like a fresh new canvas on which with every brush stroke, can be painted a well tempered, obedient and loving Bulldog the whole family can enjoy.

Bulldog Won’t Stop Jumping On People?

Potty Training Demands Consistency!

Potty training a Bulldog puppy will seem like a full time job at first and if you haven’t already prepared yourself for a little work then you may end up falling short of the finish line. A Bulldog puppy is a whole lot like a baby and he’ll count on you every step of the way to be patient and consistent.

Nose To The Ground Bee Line Means He’s Ready!

Once you bring your new Bulldog puppy home he should have already been introduced to potty training outdoors and if so, he prefers to go in the yard as opposed to your clean carpet. Some breeders may have used pee pads or newspaper for the first few weeks of the puppies house training. If the case with your Bulldog don’t worry, you can still train him to go outside. It should be a breeze, but if the puppy has used pee pads or the sports section to do his business for a prolonged period of time take the paper or pad outside for him to go on if he prefers. This will help your puppy get used to his new “bathroom”.

For effective potty training you must know where your puppy is at all times. Try to stick to a consistent schedule that includes taking your puppy outside to pee about every 2-3 hours and anytime after eating and drinking. When you see the trademark circling and sniffing or nose to the ground bee-line, you had better get on your feet and take the puppy outside quickly. This circling usually means the puppy is looking for a place to deficate. In our experience the puppies don’t give as much of a show before peeing. They’ll just sort of plop down anywhere. They seem to like finding a quiet or hidden place when they go, so if you notice it’s too quiet, something’s up. Of course, if he’s still new to your home he’ll be sniffing everywhere for a couple of days just to explore his new surroundings.

Discipline + Reward = Obedience.

If your pup has an accident, and he will; quickly scold him with a deep toned voice. Tell him “No, No” and immediately drop everything to take him outside even though the damage is already done. When you take the pup outside you should have a treat on hand so that when he pees you can reward him. Just as you scolded him when he peed inside, you’ve got to praise him over and over when he has successfully used the potty outside. The key is to help the puppy associate positive feelings of reward and praise for going potty in the lawn and a negative feeling after peeing inside. Typically a puppies come home to their new families at about 7 weeks old and should be pretty well trained within 2 weeks.

You Need a Crate For Your Bulldog.

For potty training to work, you’ve got to get a crate big enough to house the puppy when he’s fully matured, but that also includes an adjustable divider you can re position as he grows. Let me recommend this Double-Door Folding Metal Dog Crate. It measures 42 Inches by 28 Inches by 30 Inches and it’s what we use for our Bulldogs, especially puppies in training. The divider is needed to size the inside of the crate so that the pup has only enough room inside to lay down, stand up and turn around. You don’t want enough room for the puppy to walk around inside the cage or else he’ll gladly use one side of the cage as a restroom and the other for sleeping.

The Crate Becomes His Solace.

By placing him in a large cage you’ll be further encouraging him to pee inside it. A bulldog won’t pee or defecate in his living area unless he absolutely can’t hold it anymore. This will force the pup to wait as long as possible for you to come and take him outside. If you have small children I would suggest you use the crate twice during the day for an hour or two as a sort of “nap time”. Children can quickly overwhelm and exhaust your new puppy so he could use a place of solace to escape for a while. The crate should definitely be used throughout the night hours. Nobody wants to wake up to piles of poo and urine all over the place, but that’s exactly what will happen if you leave that puppy out for the night. Food and water should always be available to your puppy, but be sure to take it away about 1.5 hours before bed. Each time the puppy comes out of the crate he must immediately be taken outside.

Voted #1 Best Seller on Training the Bulldog.

If you need more help with potty training your Bulldog and love your kindle as much as I do, this book may be perfect for you! Andi Anderson is a contributing editor for the Dogington Post. Shes used her experience with Bulldogs in writing this in depth, but simple little read to help the layman better understand potty training and it’s specific to Bulldogs. She clearly shows her knowledge of Bulldogs giving praise to the positive reinforcement method while discouraging the use of fear and punishment. I love the statement she makes in her book, “If you invite them into a power struggle, they will respond accordingly.” Andi knows it can’t be all treats and praise though. No, she makes it clear in her book, a Bulldog desperately craves a clear instruction and “you can’t be a push-over.” Click Here to Give Her Book a Shot!

Don’t Lose Your Cool.

Now, honestly, although it’s never fun to clean up poop or pee from your carpet; you must be prepared for quite a few “accidents” and it shouldn’t anger you. Get yourself a good BISSELL SpotClean Portable Carpet Cleaner so you don’t have to call a cleaning crew into your home twice a week. You need to be clear headed and under control when scolding your puppy just as you would with a child. If you find yourself continuously at the end of your rope it may be a good idea to call your breeder for advice. Never give your puppy away or sell him without first offering him back to the breeder.

Have You Got a Dangerously Aggressive Bulldog?

English Bulldogs are not typically mean or aggressive in any way, but for many reasons a Bulldog can become unsafe for your family, those visiting your home, and even your other pets. Most commonly a Bulldog’s nature becomes aggressive either because he was abused, neglected, improperly traied in the early stages of his life, or as a direct result of the his owner’s lack of leadership.

Your Bulldog Needs a Leader First

As your Bulldog’s owner you want to be consistently calm and assertive, especially in the younger years. Usually when you think of mistreatment of a pet you picture physical and verbal abuse from the owner, but a very serious form of neglect manifests itself in the lack of discipline and leadership you apply to your Bulldog. Just like a child, your Bulldog must know that you are the leader and this message comes through to him loud and clear when you’ve set rules and boundaries for him. The control you take over your Bulldog is never, ever to be abusive in manor. No, it’s something your Bulldog willfully turns over to you once you’ve proven yourself to be the confident, assertive and loving leader he needs. Remember; your pet’s personality will reflect your own. If you get nervous when someone comes to the door, so will he. Your mood and body language is something your bully is very perceptive to and will always set the tone for the way in which he reacts to his surroundings.

Below, Cesar Millan Works to Offset This Nervous Bulldog’s Aggression.

Where Did This Bulldog Go Wrong?

He was a very timid and anxious dog and displayed his feelings of discomfort through aggression. I wonder if you noticed the owner’s desire to “come to his Bulldog’s rescue” during this training exercise? The owner’s reaction to the exercise helps to explain instantly how this aggressive behavior one day took hold of and shaped their Bulldog’s nature. It’s evident that the Bulldog became uneasy at some point along the road because of the lack of leadership in the home.

Lead Your Bulldog.

To a dog, no leadership means no protection. You can bet anytime the bully came into contact with a new person or strange object, he would first become nervous and aggressive(for protection) then without fail the owner would swoop in to coddle him, eventually ushering him away from the object of discomfort. This behaviour put on by the owner promotes feelings of uneasiness in the Bulldog and once again reassures him that there is no safety to be found in the home, save that which he can achieve for himself. Set rules and boundaries for your Bulldog in a loving, assertive fashion, all the while displaying that you are confident and in control. Once you’ve shown yourself to be the steady leader your Bulldog needs, the aggression will stop.

Related: See Cesar Millan’s Best Tips To Stop Dog Barking

My Bulldog Won’t Sit and Stop Jumping on People!

Did you know each time you allow your Bulldog to jump on you for affection or to be pet, you may inadvertently be teaching him it’s ok to jump on people? Sure it may be cute now to watch your puppy jump up on someone and beg for attention, but this will get annoying quickly.

** Before I go further, I want to make clear the fact that Bulldogs, especially puppies, absolutely must receive a hearty dose of physical touch and words of affirmation every day! Often times we forget to show enough affection to our pets and just like a person who’s been locked away for hours at a time, they can temporarily forget their manners. Think of it this way. If you were shut in your office all day on an important assignment, with no other human contact, you’d probably be very talkative when you finally make it home to your wife. Actually she may even think all the talking is downright annoying. But this is natural. In the same way, a dog that’s been cooped up in his cage all day will uncontrollably desire his owner’s touch.

If you find that no amount of training helps teach your Bulldog to stop being so jumpy, you should consider whether he is getting enough physical touch from you, his family. In a lot of instances people tell me, “our bulldog is so jumpy, we have no choice but to put him back in the cage” He won’t stop jumping and he scratches the children.” I can tell you most assuredly putting him back in the cage another hour will only do him more harm. This is tragic! Try a different approach. Shower him with quality time. He may just need some extra lap time, petting and play. Don’t throw out the rules though. Make sure he sits when being petted. Read On……..

A good rule of thumb is to almost never pet your Bulldog or give him a treat until he is in the sitting position. Once he understands he’s not getting anything from you until he sits, he’ll begin to see you as the true authority figure. More importantly he’ll begin to perceive jumping as unacceptable. When your bulldog jumps it is important to back up removing yourself from contact. Disrupting affection when he jumps will dismiss any gratification he would have otherwise received by placing his paws on you. Don’t just walk away though. I want you to look at your bully and sternly tell him, ‘No’. Try not to yell at him as this can be rather counterproductive.

As with any unwanted behavior, the key will always be the same. It’s simple. Look your Bulldog in the eye, verbally and physically rebuke him, then diligently watch for good behavior for which you can positively reinforce. No matter the problem, each time you go through this process you’ll find yourself one step closer to the goal. After implementing these techniques you’ll soon need reminding your English Bulldog was ever in need of any behavioral training.

Great! I’m Covered In Hair Now!

How pleased your guests will be to enter your home and not be jumped on by a 50 lb Bulldog. If your English Bulldog just isn’t “getting it”, you may physically, but lovingly, push his rear end into the sitting position. He won’t stay sitting for long without your hand holding his rear down, but when he is sitting you must quickly give him a treat and verbally praise him. This sounds a little funny, I know, but any training exercise can be successful if done in repetition. Finally, as I always do once I’ve shared all of my knowledge on the particular topic with you, the reader, I recommend to you Bulldogs For Dummies. You’ll find a ton of info on every issue concerning Bulldog Training from Jumping to Potty Training and More. 

Like This Article On Training Your Bulldog?

The topic of training your Bulldog is a big one and we barely scratched the surface, but I chose to discuss what I think are the three most important training issues to Bulldog owners first. I would love to add new topics of training to this article so please let me know if you have any ideas in the comments section below, or on our Google Plus Page!

25 Responses to How To Train Your Bulldog

  • Michelle

    I like your write up on potty training. I was wondering do you think its ok to kind of smack the puppy on the butt when they’ve peed or pooped in the house or when they’ve continuously done something wrong? I would never take it out of control or hurt them, but was taught that is a good method of correction. thanks

    • Dan Weese

      Michelle thanks for your comment. I too was taught that it’s best just to give a good smack on the rear end. Enough to just sting the Bulldog’s butt a little. I’ve heard the argument that if you don’t give the dog a reason to change his behaviour then why would he do it? This argument of course meaning that a bully won’t stop peeing on the carpet just because you yell at him; he needs to feel the sting on his rear. While I’m not going to say this is wrong, I will say that I think it should be a last resort. Sort of like a corparal punishment. I honestly don’t believe it’s necessary to spank the puppy in most cases and that verbally scolding is usually enough. I’d be curious to see how other Bulldog owners are handling their bullies. Is spanking in or out???

  • Bobbi

    I have 2 English bulldogs, and have NEVER had to smack their butts for bad behavior. Bulldogs in general are smart, but very head strong. You just need to be consistent and firm. But love them and enjoy them for the beautiful creatures that they are. They are amazing pets!

  • I love Bulldogs

    I’m getting a Bulldog puppy pretty soon and I was told that for house training I should just put puppy pads or newspaper down for the puppy in one of the rooms like the kitchen and also put one on either side of the crate. I see you didn’t mention anything about puppy pads or newspaper for house training and I thought maybe it’s because you don’t think it works? Should I just take the puppy outside onto the lawn to pee or let him go on the pad? If you or someone could tell me their thoughts on puppy pads I would appreciate it.

    • dan weese

      I personally never understood the puppy pad thing. It seems too much like you’re teaching the puppy to pee in the house and on the pad rather than to get him used to peeing outside on the yard. All of these things are taught by repitition so I would be careful to have the puppy repeatedly pee inside on paper. I think when it comes time to make the change to outside your puppy might be confused. One thing’s for sure, it’s just not for me :) I don’t know…. am I missing something?? Is there ever a good time to put newspaper or puppy pads down in the house to aid in house training?

  • Janie

    My English bulldog is almost 11 months old, I got him when he was 12 weeks old. He’s potty trained and great with the kids. But over the past month or 2 he has become a problem. He still pees outside, and if I see him sniffing in the house I quietly tell him no and he walks away and usually goes to lay down or walks out the door, as I usually leave it open for his convenience. Lately, probably about 7 or 8 times over the past 2 months he’s peed in the house and when I walk over to the urine and look at him whether he’s close or across the room, he growls at me. He’s bitten me to the point that me and him fought til he submitted (I know that sounds funny, but I just held him to the ground by his neck til he calmed down as he kept trying to go at me). This morning my 3 yr old was laying on the floor and he walked over on top of his head like he was going to pee on my son, so I yelled “no!” the dog moved and started growling at me. I immediately grabbed him by the collar, choked him up a bit, and put him outside. It’s getting more frequent, so I know I’m handling it the wrong way…Please help!!!

    • Brandon

      Get a can or jar of coins and shake it right at him when he bites and say “NO”. If you consistantly associate that sound with biting he will stop. It works like a charm. The sound is aweful to hear but it is better than any alternative I have found. It worked on our lab too.

  • Ashley

    I have had my bull dog 3 weeks now and he is still peeing and pooping in the house a lot,hasn’t yet asked to go outside and is going in his bed without barking to ask out, how can I stop this and should I be concerned? He just doesn’t seem to be getting it at all.

    • Dan Weese

      I’m guessing he’s around 10-12 wks old. Some accidents should be expected at this stage in potty training, but not consistently like you describe. It may be a bit early for him to be “asking to go outside.” Usually, in my experience, the pups don’t start standing at, barking, or scratching the door until they’ve matured a little more. My advice? Just follow the directions on this page. Watch him like a hawk for any sign he’s ready to go out. They all have their “tells”. He shouldn’t be left unaccompanied until he’s been trained. If you miss one, tell him, “no”, and quickly escort him outside. Don’t give up! Eventually, you should begin to make ground on this!

  • Sherry

    Hello, Our bull dog puppy, who is about 15 weeks, was potty trained and peeing and pooping outside. About the last few weeks, she is pooping in her crate, even right after we have taken her out. I will go and check on her in the middle of the night and she has pooped in her crate even though we took her out a few hours earlier. Is anyone else having this problem and if so, what did you do? Thanks!

    • Dan Weese

      Hey there, Sherry. My first question to you would have to be, how large is her crate? She should have only enough room in there to stand up and lay down. If there’s enough room to walk around, she’ll pee in one end of the crate and sleep in the other. Naturally, a dog prefers to keep it’s sleeping area clean. I would expect her to bark a couple of times when she has to go too. Has she started eating later at night recently? I would cut her off from food probably 2.5 hrs before crate time and water about 1 hr before this way her bladder and colon have time to work their contents out before bed (outside).

  • Jill Gildart

    Me again!
    First off thanks so much for your prompt responses and sound advice, its been a huge help in this new process.
    I have an 8 month old bulldog male, he kinda likes to jump. Its not all the time but when we are giving him love and affection. We push him down, and firmly tell him no and/or walk away from him. Any other thoughts or advice on this issue? Will he out grow it?

  • Jennifer lee

    So we have a 4 month old male english bulldog. He for some reason goes and pees on our door mat. Any suggestions? He is peeing outside and sometimes on pee pad.

    • Dan Weese

      Usually if they’re peeing on the doormat it’s because they intended to go outside and just didn’t have access. I would suggest you go cold turkey from the pee pads if you can. It’s sometimes difficult for a puppy to understand why it is he can pee on one area of the house and not another. Ultimately, pee pads encourage your dog to pee inside and that’s not what you want. On the other hand, I can understand that for certain families pee pads can be useful or must be used. Good luck!

  • Rain Nelson

    Greetings Red White and Bulldogs,

    We picked up a stray English Bulldog yesterday. He’s an Adult Male and not Neutered – and true to Bulldog temperament, he is very overpowering with affection. We have two other small female dogs and one kitty that come and go at their leisure from inside the house to the backyard all day (my husband works at home). We have tried every possible outlet to find the guardians with no luck so far. Due to the heavily trafficked shelters in this are we will not surrender him to animal control – but look to find a happier and more suitable home.

    The biggest challenge is that he is trying to mark the inside of the house with pee when we attempt to bring him in. We introduced our small dogs to him last night with no issues of aggression but he is being dominating to the humans by demanding affection. We tried 6 attempts last night to bring him inside by putting a leash on him and escorting him around the inside of the house to sniff and familiarize. Each time he tried lifting his leg to pee so was taken back outside directly. I know isolation is detrimental to Bulldogs and don’t want to leave him outside or in the garage until we can find another home. It would be much nicer if it was an inclusive environment for him. In addition to this very helpful article, do you have any guidance you can offer regarding potty training large, intact, male bulldogs so we can give him all the love he needs! Thanks from Texas! – Rain Nelson

    • Dan Weese

      A stray Bulldog. How exciting! And he sounds very nice. Well, we don’t know if he was ever properly trained at his previous home so you may be starting from scratch; however, it’s hard to believe he’s completely untrained. It could be that because he’s still new to your home he’s a bit out of sorts and considering the other pets in the house, maybe he’s competing for control of your home and/or affection. Bulldogs are always demanding when it comes to your attention. Honestly, it sounds like you’re doing your best and it could just take time. I would treat as though her were a puppy. Start from scratch. Scold him and take him outside when he lifts his leg and reward when he goes outside. I hope it gets better for you. Good Luck!

  • Jerry West

    Our bulldog is now 7 months old and is still having accidents in the house. He does not give any notifications that he has to go outside. We scold him and take him outside after words but it does not seem to help. This is not happening on a daily basis but regular enough. We have a 1 yr old bulldog and he picked it up after 16 weeks and barks at the door if we do not notice he is there wanting outside. How do can we get our 7 month old to this point and how do we get him to notify us. Any suggestions would be great. – Jerry West

  • Heidi Moyer

    We just brought home a 12 week old male english bulldog. He does well with training while we are there but when we put him in his cage at night he will cry and carry on and poop which leads to him being covered in it. He will also do it while we are at work. Even if he has gone that morning after he eats. After having to clean him and the cage up for 5 days sometimes twice a day in a row we don’t know what else to do. We read and have been told they will not go where they sleep but he does. he has only enough room to lay down and turn around in the cage. So someone suggested making an enclosure with a puppy pad in the corner. We did this but then he cried almost all night but he did not poop but did pee on the puppy pad. Do you have any advice on what to do. We are very frustrated as we just don’t have time in the morning to deal with all the clean up from the cage but aren’t getting any sleep from him crying all night in the enclosure.

    • Dan Weese

      This is all seems to be normal behavior. At 12 weeks and in a new home away from his mom he’ll be lonely and cry, but it should subside soon as long as you stick to your guns. Make sure he’s getting lots and lots of affection while you are home. Actually, at that age you should probably take him outside half way through the night to pee and poop. I think you’re doing ok adding the pee pad in the corner, but I worry he may not house train properly with the use of pads. I would try and only use them for a short time.

  • Hollie Browninv


    I recently bought a male English bulldog home. He is currently 3 and a half months old. He is doing terrific as far as potty training is concerned and he is very smart when it comes to being trained. I have been seeing some behaviors that are somewhat bothersome to me and wanted to know if you can offer some guidance. He plays and when he plays he gets very rough, he often growls at our girls and sometimes bites as well, it’s like nipping, but he has sharp teeth so obviously hurtful. He also will grow if he doesn’t want to be bothered. I was wondering what you can tell me about these behaviors? From what I have read about English Bulldogs, they like a lot of love, but he seems to be more independent, it also always says they’re good with children, and sometimes he is, but other times I worry when he nips or plays too rough. I don’t allow any tug of war at all. We are trying to teach him to release the toys so we can throw them, this has been very difficult too due to the type of play he engages in by himself. He had his first obedience training class last Friday and did terrific. What do you think about these nippy/growling behaviors we are seeing?

    • Dan Weese

      It’s always hard to say without meeting the dog in person. He’s 3 months now. How old was he when you got him? I’m wondering what behaviors he may have picked up from his previous home. Puppies have to learn acceptable ways to play. The nipping and rough play doesn’t concern me as long as you let him know(verbally) that biting is not ok. I’m more worried about him growling when he doesn’t want to be bothered. Good thing is he’s still young. When he growls I would go ahead and tell him, “no” and pet him or hold him for a minute. Anytime he shows these undesirable behaviors it’s important you scold him, but don’t push him away for too long either as he is very young and needs that tlc. Sounds like you guys are on the right track though. I’m confident you can help him through this.

  • Hollie Browning


    Thanks for your timely response. I think our family is a bit afraid because before Jordan (the puppy I am telling you about) we had tried to rescue a 2 year old bulldog and she terrorized our family and other pets, we had to take her back after 24 hours, I never saw anything like it. She was fear biting and pacing as if she had anxiety. And she would growl if you did something you didn’t like. It was heart breaking and terrible. So everyone was so upset I went to our local pet store and bought Jordan, he was 2 months old then, the owner gave me the name of the breeder, etc. It’s a pet store I have bought all of my dogs out so I have trust in them. Jordan does not growl like that all of the time it’s only been 2-3 times that this has happened but since we met that last bulldog from the rescue, we are all paranoid Jordan will turn out to be like her too. Otherwise, he’s such a good puppy. He sleeps a lot. However, you had said to give him TLC but he really wants it on his own terms. Could it be due to the fact that we got a male? This is our first male dog. Wasn’t sure what to expect.

    • Dan Weese

      If he plays hard that’s one thing. Biting while playing can happen even with good dogs and they just have to learn it’s not ok. The relationship between his undesirable behavior and his sex is probably minimal. I truly think he’ll be ok, but you’ve got to take control of him now.

  • Jimmy

    Hi, I have an english bulldog who is just at 6 mo old. She has been potty trained for the wee mats but now I’m trying to get her to go outside and she’s being difficult. I take her out about 15 min after she eats but does nothing. Then when we come upstairs she goes to the mat or goes to her bed and lies down then when I turn my head for 5 min she will use bathroom on the floor. Im getting frustrated as you can imagine. Any tips that may work? Thanks for your time

    • Dan Weese

      This happens sometimes when the pee pads are used. She’s become so accustomed to peeing inside and on the mat and now it’s hard for her to change. The best I believe you can do is basically to insist that she pee outside before you take her in. It may take a while, but she has to be retrained. Once she finally goes be sure to have a treat ready and praise her like crazy. You might also try and take the pee pad outside on the patio to try and ease her into the new practice of going outside.

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