Although English Bulldogs look intimidating, that can be deceiving. These dogs have a friendly, laid-back temperament, and they love spending time with their families, usually in the role of couch potato. While they are sweet in disposition, English bulldogs also can be stubborn. Rewards in the form of favorite treats are required to motivate them to learn commands. Because dogs of this breed suffer from health conditions that affect their breathing and joints, you must take care to prevent overexerting your dog during training.
English bulldogs tend to be affectionate and friendly with people, lavishing them with kisses and attention. With other dogs and with cats, they sometimes will be aggressive, unless they have had positive early interactions with them. Expose your English bulldog puppy to positive experiences with new people and other pets from the time the puppy joins your household. Reward your dog during and after such interactions to reinforce the experience as good and fun. Obedience classes provide a good way to gain socialization opportunities for your English bulldog puppy.
Teach your English bulldog basic obedience commands such as "Sit," "Stay" and "Down." Keep training sessions short -- 5 to 10 minutes daily -- to keep your dog's attention. Reward the dog with a treat and verbal praise for performing a desired behavior. English bulldogs are food-motivated, and they respond well to positive training methods. Negative training methods will simply produce a stubborn English bulldog who won't have any interest in learning from you.
Teach your English bulldog pup to sit by giving the verbal command "Sit," as you hold a treat just out of reach above the puppy's head. When the puppy sits, immediately give the treat along with praise. With repetition, the pup will quickly learn to associate the command and the action with obtaining the treat. Use one command to build on another over time, turning "Sit" into "Stay" by lengthening the time between giving the "Stay" command and giving a treat and praise. Teach your English bulldog to "Down" from the sit by holding a treat in your hand and taking it to the ground and away from the puppy as you give the command. When the dog goes down to follow the treat, instantly praise and give the treat.
The "Leave it" and "Drop it" commands are important for the English bulldog because these dogs can be possessive about food, making it difficult to remove a pilfered table scrap or something potentially dangerous from the dog's mouth. The "Leave it" command also can stop aggression toward another dog before a scuffle starts.
To teach your English bulldog to drop an item, start by giving the dog a favorite toy. When your dog has taken the toy and is holding it, order "Drop it," or some other word of command, and show the pup a treat. The moment your dog drops the toy, give the treat and praise the dog.
To teach the "Leave it" command, put your English bulldog on leash and tell the dog to "Sit." Put a favorite toy in front of the pup. Say "Leave it," and use the leash to prevent the dog from getting to the toy. Once your dog sits without trying to get to the toy, give your dog a treat.
Give your English bulldog a crate to use as a safe "den." Make the crate as cozy and pleasant as possible, lining it with a comfortable blanket and placing some toys inside. You can feed your English bulldog inside the crate to make the dog feel protected while eating. English bulldogs tend to be possessive of food. Feeding your dog in the crate makes the crate a desirable place to be, gives the dog a sense of security while eating, and prevents children and other family members from disturbing the possessive dog during the meal.
The crate should be large enough that your English bulldog can sit up, lie down and stand in it comfortably. The dog should have enough room to stretch out, but not so much room that the dog will be willing to soil the crate. Dogs naturally want to avoid soiling their immediate surroundings. This makes a dog crate a useful aid in house-breaking your English bulldog puppy.
Train your English bulldog to go inside the crate on command, using a verbal command such as "Crate." Lure the dog into the crate with treats, and reward the dog for entering the crate. You may also want your English bulldog to sleep in the crate and not on your bed, because these dogs are notorious snorers.
Consistency is the key to housebreaking your English bulldog. Take your pup outside for a potty break every two to three hours, especially when the puppy awakens from a nap and after meals. Choose a spot for the pup to use that is protected from the elements so that potty breaks will be comfortable for your dog. Choose a command such as "Potty." Rewarding your dog with verbal praise and returning indoors as soon as pottying is completed will help establish in the dog's mind the purpose for going outside. Between potty breaks, monitor or crate the puppy to prevent accidents. Take the puppy outside immediately when you see signs of the need.
You'll be able to lengthen the time between potty breaks as your puppy grows older and gains better control over elimination. By 6 months of age, English bulldogs will be able to go 4 or 5 hours without needing to go out. Because they are mellow dogs who often prefer to stay indoors, English bulldogs can also be trained to use a large doggie litter box indoors.
Like all dog breeds with shortened faces, English bulldogs don't tolerate heat and humidity well, and they can easily suffer breathing problems and heatstroke if they are overexerted outdoors in such weather. With their compromised breathing passages, they can experience problems such as panting and snorting, making them intolerant of exercise in either hot or cold weather. It's best to train your English bulldog in a climate-controlled indoors environment.
Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water during training to prevent the buildup of phlegm from excessive panting. While other breeds can be taught agility or other such strenuous activities, English bulldogs are more sedentary. They often also suffer from conditions like hip dysplasia and arthritis, even at a younger age, making such training even more difficult for them. If your English bulldog has serious breathing issues, consult a veterinarian to determine whether surgery could help improve the dog's ability to breathe.
Never use a choke collar on an English bulldog. These dogs have a narrow trachea that can be injured by such equipment, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. A harness is a better option for this breed.
English bulldogs are more prone to deafness than other breeds. If you notice that your dog doesn't respond to verbal commands, have your veterinarian check the dog's hearing. Deaf English bulldogs can be trained using hand signals instead of verbal commands by using treats to reward proper responses.
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