How To Train Your Bulldog

Bulldogs In Training

How to Train Your Bulldog

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 behaviors.

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 behaviors 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/Circling 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 puppy’s house training. If this is the case with your Bulldog, don’t worry, you can still train him to go outside.

If the puppy has used pee pads or the sports section to do his business for a prolonged period of time potty training may be a bit tougher, but can still be done. To break him from going inside on the newspaper, 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. There are certain measures of prevention you’ll need to take with your new pup. Between potty trips outside, try and keep him on your lap, or even at your feet on a leash so he cannot pee.

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 go poo. In our experience the puppies don’t give as much of a show before peeing, but they all have their own tell or way of showing you they’re ready. 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 8 weeks old and should be pretty well trained within 2-4 weeks, but accidents can still happen for a month. A Bulldog of about 1 year old with a fully developed badder should be able to hold their pee for 6-8 hours.

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 36″L x 23″W x 25″H 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 is Key.

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. Typically, for a new puppy, you might have to wake up 2-3 times in the night to let him out. You’ll know he has to pee or poo when he begins to bark.

Food and water should always be available to your puppy, but be sure to serve the last meal 2-3 hours before bed and only give him a small drink. If you time your feedings, bed time and potty breaks before bed, you may not have to let him outside more than once. A puppy of 12 weeks may start to make it through the night with no potty breaks.  Each time the puppy comes out of the crate he must immediately be taken outside.

Here’s the schedule we use for an 8 week old Bulldog pup:

  • Last meal at 630pm
  • Last water at 1030pm
  • One last potty break at 11pm
  • Wake up when he barks to go potty (usually 230am and again at 530am)
  • New day begins at 73oam. Take him directly outside to potty

During the day, water is always available. Food is served a total of 3-4 times per day. Frequent trips to go potty. Remember when your pup is in the house to keep him in one of the “safe zones” such as your lap as much as possible.

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 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.

How to Get Your Bulldog to Stop Biting.

Usually it’s puppies that are in the habit of biting, not adults. If you’ve got an adult Bulldog that bites it probably means they weren’t trained out of the biting when they were supposed to be. As with any rude or undesirable behavior, your Bulldog is following your lead. When a puppy bites it can be fun to rough-house with them a bit and encourage the play biting, but be careful, every time you allow your puppy to bite you’re letting him know this is acceptable behavior. Biting is cute for a while, but eventually it gets annoying and soon, even painful.

Don’t allow your puppy to bite. Scold him and if he doesn’t stop the biting, move him to the other side of the room. If you’re not getting anywhere after a few days you might have to swat him on the rear(if you believe in that). For us, we almost always have to smack our bullies on the butt at least once or twice to get them to listen. Once their older, they’ve learned not to bite or they get a stinging sensation on their rump.

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 trained 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 behavior 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. Find an acceptable mode of communication.

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. the kids may need to leave the room while he is still jumping. 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 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!

114 Responses to How To Train Your Bulldog

  • Amie

    Hi I have a 14 week old bull dog. We have had no problems so far with him apart from getting him to go outside. Once he is out he is fine it’s just getting him to go out. I’m finding I’m having to carry him but I know in a few weeks this will be impossible to lift him outside.. I’ve tried treats toys bribery nothing seems to work. Any suggestions would be great thanks in advance

    • Dan Weese

      Oh ya, at 14wks he’s getting heavy lol. Does he ever like to go out? Try to think of an instance in which he goes outside on his own and recreate that whether it be to play with the kids or chase a favorite noise making toy. I know how stubborn they can be though. If he must be forced I would put a harness on him and pull. Then be sure to treat him after he goes out and finishes. Anyone else have an idea here?

  • Naazeet

    This makes sense but can you post something specifically for valley bulldogs around the age of 1-2 that will be helpful. I tried most of these and they don’t seem to work he just keeps growling and we don’t want this to continue

  • Jon

    Hi Dan, I have a 1 year old male British Bulldog and he’s been the happiest guy ever, a little naughty sometimes but nothing worrying. Anyway he was completely house trained and used his pet loo for everything until recently where I have had him neutered. Since castration he seems to be a completely different guy. He is peeing regular at different places in the house and has also peed on his bed a couple of times which he never did before. He’s also occasionally dedicating in the house including in the bedroom which again he never did before. Also he rarely comes to me and when I go to him he goes to the corner or shy’s away. He also occasionally growls at me when I touch him. Im pretty upset by it as he ver showed such signs of behaviour before and was always so loving. Another thing when I come home he used to to jump around and come and say hello but now he doesn’t. Ive been doing a lot of research but not really found anything to helpful. What advise could you give as I really don’t know what to do.

  • Laina Norley

    Hi I have a 3 yr old old English bulldogge, my problem is he growls. When you try and move him on the bed or push him off a chair he will growl. What can I do to show him he can’t growl at people. I have pitbull and none have been this block headed concerning dominance.

  • Jess

    Hi, we recently got a 4 year old English bulldog. She’s so sweet, and wants to be in our laps at all times. She’s potty trained, she’s amazing BUT when we introduced her to our kids (8,6,3,11 months) she jumped on them… I don’t think she was being aggressive but from where we were sitting it LOOKED like she was trying to attack our 3 year old… I do not believe that’s what she was doing.  There was not growling or barking but I think that because the kids we SO excited to see her and the 3 older kids were all around her jumping around, she also got extremely excited and started jumping and biting them. So we became very cautious with her around the kids. The next day I put her outside to go potty and my son was riding his bike past her and she jumped up and bit his elbow. It didn’t break the skin but you could see the teeth marks. What do We do?? We’ve considered rehoming her but we’ve always wanted a bulldog. But we also would never put our children in danger…. help!!!

  • Dan

    We have a 6yr 5mo old English bulldog. Lucy has always held her pee but as of late she quit eating and now she can’t hold her pee. Just laying around she’ll leave a puddle. What do you think? We’ve had her 2 yrs and this is not normal.

    • Dan Weese

      Could be a urinary tracy infection.

  • Belinda

    We have a 14 month old neutered English Bulldog. He recently ran after my car when I left for work. My adult daughter had him outside to potty. Since then he has run after the neighbors car and ran towards a neighbor walking on the street.  The lady who was walking was talking on her cell phone​ using her speaker. She was loud and it was echoing in the area. How do I get the fog to stop chasing after cars or running towards strangers? He is a mild mannered baby. Has never been aggressive to any degree.

  • Kelly

    Hi, my English Bully puppy Toby is 5 months old. We got him when he was 2 months old.  He is such a joy. I have worked really hard training him and overall he is doing great! He is very smart and a fast learner, but is also very stubborn which leaves me with a few concerns.  For instance, Teaching him to go potty outside was a breeze with alot of patience. He constantly has to pee so taking him outside a million times a day has been exhausting, but he did learn.  He goes to the door now or barks when he has to go out and pees and poops outside, however he still has accidents in the house every now and then, mostly pee and i don’t know why.  He is crated at night and when we aren’t home and has never peed or pooped in it.  He learned to sit and give paw in 2 days and is now working on stay and lay down.  He started out having watery poo, but solved that by switching him to a grain free easy to digest puppy food 3/4 cup 3 times a day. He gets a hard boiled egg with his food at breakfast every other day and a tablespoon of greek yogurt with his dinner everyday. He gets puppy milkbone treats for good behavior. He gets along great with my cat, they love to chase each other and play, Toby can get a little rough sometimes but my cat doesn’t seem to mind much.  My biggest concern is that even though I show him lots of love and attention and I give him loaf of playtime with me and he has chew toys he is constantly chewing up my arms when I’m trying to relax, he just won’t leave me alone when I don’t want to play.  He growls, barks, jumps on me and bites and is very annoying.  I just keep telling him NO and keep putting him on the floor and ignore him when he does ot, but he just jumps back up on the couch and keeps doing it, so I just keep putting him on the floor until he stops.  Takes about an hour, but he eventually stops.  My questions are…will the time ever come to where he will stop having accidents in the house, will he ever be able to roam the house when were not home, or will he always need to be crated? And all the biting stop?

    • Dan Weese

      Sounds like you’ve done a great job training him so far! Bulldogs can be so persistent, especially males, but yes, he will learn to back off when you’ve had enough time playing with him. This will get much better with age and 5 months is still so young. Some bulldog owners reach a point where they can leave them home to roam for hours at a time, but usually not more than a few hours. Again, this is something that can more easily be done with senior dogs 5 and older. The younger dogs just can’t hold their pee for a whole work day. Bulldogs can be known to struggle with anxiety or frustration when left alone for too long also. This can lead to obsessive behaviors like chewing on walls or carpet. All of this is heavily dependant on the particular Bulldog too. Have you tried usin a belly band while you’re home to help him hold his pee? These are usually quite effective.

  • Gayle Pelz

    I purchased a 3 month old english bulldog 2 months ago. He is impossible to train, and on top of that he is a poop eater. After he eat the poop he either throws it up, or gets diarrhea. I pick up the poop out side as soon as he’s done in the morning, doesn’t seam to evacuate all at once. He has to poop 2 times in the morning. I let him out a few more times, or he may even ask to go out himself by ringing his bells and then does nothing. But when he comes in the house he poops when I’m not looking!!! I think he trying to cover up the evidence by eating it. He also eat’s it when he does go out side, or if he’s playing out side with my 2 yr old shar pei. I can’t let him out of my site.I have called the breeder who now tells me that his mother does the same thing. I feed him a prey diet, give him vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.I work from home I let him out constantly. I bought a full faced muzzle, I really haven’t really used it. It was suggested to me to try a shock collar ( which I have always been against). I have even considered rehoming him my husband myself and our shar pei love him. But I can’t handle this filthy habit have never spanked him because he is a fearful dog frighten of loud noises, furniture that has been moved, the wind. Many things he’s a very loving affectionate boy. We have never done anything to make him so fearful. I don’t know how to correct him because of his fears. After he poops inside I put it and him out side hoping that he would understand. I have to watch him so he doesn’t eat it. Is he just a chronic poop eater, or just afraid that he pooped. Because when he goes in the house I don’t yell I the him that this is NO! then he hides. HELP!

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