Dog owners frequently contact me with questions. An all-time hit are undesired behaviors in dogs of all ages. I have taken one of the recent request for advice as the basis of this essay, because the problem situation seems to apply to a lot of situations owners experience in one way or the other.
Dog owners often find themselves confronted with are undesired habits of their dogs, which can show in a variety of behaviors. Bull Terriers are little bull dozers even when they are happy and just want to make fun or show affection. And when young they come with a bunch of quirks in addition, such as nipping and roughhousing, which are all too typical. But that does not mean we have to accept them as the owners.
We all know that the best time to work on those undesired behaviors is as early as possible while the dog is still young and has not settled into routines and behaviors yet, in order to avoid bad habits from developing and establishing and our dogs from taking them as “normal behavior”.
Of course, we also know that this is the ideal situation and that reality is often different.
Dogs can come into our home being adopted at a certain age with their background and history unknown.
Dogs go through different stages in life and some bad habits can flare up surprisingly at some point when we thought we had already left that behind us.
Or, sometimes owners do not really understand the possible range of consequences bad habits can cause if remaining uncorrected and wait to intervene until they can no longer bear the behavior or the risks that come with it.
My biggest focus is always on the dog because I know the dog is the one who will ultimately pay the price when things go wrong. I will, however, spare those owners the educational monolog about the thousand chances that have been passing by unused during those first few years of their dog’s life. Instead, I will move on straight to the point.
Bull Terriers and their “Certain” way Of play
Bull Terriers are a very special breed. Rough play is not unusual for them, especially going for the neck of other dogs, biting upwards when on the ground, jumping over and ON other dogs etc.
Many other breeds, especially smaller and more delicate ones react alienated to this behavior and often even entirely avoid to play with Bull Terriers. With other, bigger dogs the Bull Terrier behavior can result in fights. One reason is that Bull Terriers are known for being pretty patient before they snap, but once that happens they are not famous for leaving a fight without making their point. Most of them are courageous and once they have reached “the point” they are not afraid of confrontation.
This is something owners should always be very aware of.
This is also why it usually is a good idea to make selective choices in terms of play pals for a Bull Terrier. The best choice, obviously, would be another Bull Terrier. Because they are “crazy equals”. 🙂
Other robust breeds, such as Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers etc. share that foolish attitude and usually get along with the actions of a Bull Terrier during play.
So, when owning a Bull Terrier it can actually make a lot of sense for the owner to selectively choose the dogs he will be allowed play with and to not leave this choice to the dog alone.
Or at least, once the owners notice that their dog is pestering another one and that other dog obviously feels uncomfortable with it to interrupt the situation right away and take the pestering dog out of the equation. Sometimes leaving the play pit may be the best decision for that day. This way the dog can learn that such behavior is not “standard” and may cost the dog its playtime, once it gets too rough.
Also, owners who actively watch theirs dogs’ actions and intervene do not only have the better chances to avoid incidents. They also present themselves as very responsible owners in the dog park or other public places by not leaving things to chance and actively trying to establish rules.
Dogs, such as Bull Terriers, are often publicly perceived as “dangerous dogs” and their reputation can benefit a lot from such responsible owners. Because being alert and taking action shows that the situation is under control and not unpredictable. Very often in dog parks, I watch owners releasing their dogs and then joining other dog owners for a chat, completely oblivious of their own dog’s doings in the park.
Even in a fenced area, such as the dog park, owners should never leave their dogs unsupervised. And when they notice play getting a little more intense between another and their own dog, they should make sure that the owner of the other dog is also aware of the developing situation and ready to intervene in case things threaten to escalate.
Besides: It is just considerate to intervene when your dog is pestering others in the dog park.
What if the dog is used to playing rough and the owner finally wants to do something about it?
The solution even with an older dog is training. Of course, it can be harder to work on already established undesired behaviors. But in most cases, it is still possible.
If the dog has a play pal it frequently meets in the neighborhood and the other owner agrees to participate in training sessions, that could be a start for the training. In this case, the two owners could meet for periodic training sessions and work on better control of the problem behavior and better impulse control of the dog in a remote and controlled environment where other dogs and lots of distractions are absent.
This way owners could move forward from only being able to avoid harm by managing the behavior to actually changing the dog’s behavior through training.
But again, until the training really shows results, the part of MANAGING and not leaving things to chance or decisions to the dog is vital to avoid harm.
Nipping when greeting people or in other situations of excitement
Bull Terriers love to use their mouths – not only for eating. As it also functions as their “hand” and they are very grabby they like to use it to grab things or people – or ear lobes. 🙂
They often get carried away in the process and grabbing can turn into nipping and bloody results.
When a dog is very young, that is completely normal. But even then it does not mean that it is also acceptable.
When young, dogs are often not aware of the difference between their own and human skin. They do not know that our skin breaks or bruises much more easily. All the dog usually knows is how it was able to play with its siblings in the litter, which at times can actually get quite rough, but does not cause real harm in the puppies.
In adult dogs, this is an unacceptable behavior, at least when it comes to strangers.
If the owner does not mind his dog chewing his ear lobe off, that is between owner and dog. But when it comes to strangers, especially kids, nipping is a NO-GO. Period.
Just as jumping up on people, it is disaster waiting to happen.
Kids can tip over or the nip could end up in a bleeding bite wound.
And people tend to look at such behavior as an act of aggression, no matter what the original intention of the dog may have been. In the worst case, the dog will pay with its life for such a mistake.
All of that possibly just because it did not know better.
Sadly, Bull Terriers don’t have an off-switch and often the first thing we can and MUST do, is – I know I have said it before – MANAGE.
But there’s even more we can do, even if we have missed the chance in a long time and have just NOW decided to do something to correct the behavior after our dog has grown up.
Training can take much longer with Bull Terriers than with other breeds because they are such independent thinkers. It requires a lot of patience and at the same time consistency and stamina to achieve the desired results, but it is still absolutely worth the effort.
We have been able to stop Mila’s puppy nipping already when she was little. But she had that bad habit of going up on people for the longest time as a puppy. We have been working on that to no end.
My first step was managing: I just did not LET her greet strangers or made sure I had a safe grip on her to prevent her from jumping up until I was sure that she at least understood and was able to follow my command to stay off of people.
Over the entire time and even today – although she is hardly ever going up any longer unless she is really, really super excited – I always have and still do warn people, who want to pet her:
“She’s friendly, BUT, please don’t bend over her, she’s a jumper!” in order to avoid people losing their teeth and to save a lot of money myself for other people’s lawyers and dentists. 🙂
So, first step: Managing and warning people!
TIPP: A very simple and effective trick if you just can’t avoid meeting people with your dog and need to keep it from going up in that particular moment is to step on the leash close to the dog’s body. That limits the dog’s movements and physically keeps it from going up. This is most effective if the dog is wearing a collar but also works with a harness.
However, this does not have much of a learning or training effect on the dog, which is why I would suggest such measures only to bridge critical situations until the real TRAINING takes effect.
Also, I would not suggest to do it unless your stand is firm enough to withstand the dog’s strength because otherwise an attempt to go up could, of course, shake your own balance and take you off your feet.
Most importantly, when it comes to nipping and jumping: As long as the dog practices this habit, I would just not take the chance and let the dog be around little kids. If the dog loves kids a lot – which by the way is also very typical for Bull Terriers – maybe that could be an additional incentive for the owner to start with a real training strategy really quick. 🙂
IF it is for some reasons just not possible to avoid kids greeting the dog, I would ask them – and also EVERYONE, who wants to greet the dog – to immediately react to nipping or even the attempt in a way that makes it VERY clear to the dog that this behavior is undesired by everyone, not only the owner.
Yelp, scold, shout “NO!”.
Also, the face should show that the person is unhappy with the displayed behavior.
Bull Terriers are jokers and love to spread fun – in their own way. And sometimes they get carried away during the action and overdo it. If everyone involved makes it crystal clear that this overly excited behavior does not make him or her happy, sooner or later the dog will understand that overdoing it will only result in the exact opposite of what the dog originally intended: the fun ending instead of happy laughter.
Bull Terriers are very susceptive to our human moods. They just need to understand and sometimes we need to make it a little more clear by voice, facial expressions or gestures.
To really work on such a behavior by training, one way could be set up a controlled training situation with people the owner knows – and who agree to potentially get nipped once or twice. 🙂
The training should be given enough time and space for repetition. If nobody is around wanting to be the training partner, maybe seeking the help of a competent trainer could help.
BUT, I would make sure that the trainer is familiar with the Bull Terrier breed. Because believe it or not, even many so-called professionals are overwhelmed by the temperament of a Bull Terrier when not familiar with it. And such a trainer would be as helpful as a bag of beans for owners in this situation.
Until the training takes effect and the dog does stop nipping or jumping up as a result, warning adults who could then greet the dog at their own risk could be a solution. But I will tell you: Be careful with this strategy. In everyday life, we often do not have the time to explain that our dog is in training and on its way to learn good manners and that it would be very helpful if the strangers cooperated in this or that certain way. At that point, those people probably have already moved on.
But if the dog still experiences those situations in everyday life, not being sanctioned for nipping or with no obvious negative emotional reaction on the side of the nipped person, that implies that the nipping is accepted. You probably see the very mixed message for the dog behind that.
This would likely prolong the way to success in training. Because in training the dog will receive the message that nipping is not beneficial for it, while in everyday life it will still experience opposite: people who let nipping “slide”.
Therefore, for the sake of my training, I would try to drastically limit such situations in the first place in order to support my training success even in everyday life situations.
Yes, dogs do have bad habits, and Bull Terriers have plenty of them. But that does not mean that we have to accept this situation. It also does not mean that the dog needs to suffer.
Training can be a fun situation for everyone involved with lots of positive experiences and enough time for the dog to comprehend and learn what is desired and what is not. It also strengthens the bond and enhances communication between dog and owner.
Being assertive and consistent will sooner or later lead to success. In the meantime, owners should make sure that nobody – animal or human – gets hurt. If that means to completely avoid or take the dog out of certain everyday situations as a precaution – do it.
Here you will find a lot more related information:
I am afraid that my Bull Terrier will become an aggressive dog
Roughhousing in dogs – How to control my Bull Terrier
Dog bite inhibition training – How do I stop my Bull Terrier puppy from nipping
The “stop command” – remotely control your Bull Terrier
I need an advice from someone who is rooted deeply in bullies nature . From what I understand , you would be the right person. I am still working with our bullie on leash walking and destruction aspects, she is lovely and mastered all basic commands, but hates to be left alone even for 2 hours, she is a chewer, giving her toys does not necessarily work as she bites through them in seconds. Majority of the time someone is always home with her, but I feel like she has become so attached to us that even a grocery trip is a race with time for us….will we make it home quick enough to make sure she has not destroyed anything? She pulls when we walk and I have tried any possible harness and collar that is out there on the market. I believe that the trainer we had gave up on her as she was so stubborn. Little by little I implemented my own training (being consistent) and I see some results. Maybe it is separation anxiety in her? Would this possibly go away if we get her another bullie to keep her company?
She has been showing some ( I would say very little) aggression and becoming very territorial) when I pet other dogs in the park too, her jealous side shows at times. What is the best way to approach it and train her not to do that?
I feel like the training we invested in was a waste of time as the trainer had hard time working with her or maybe was not persistent enough, I mastered all commands with her on my own at home without his help . She is a sweet lovely lady and I want to make sure she is well behaved and controlled. She obeys the commands but outside she gets so excited that she just seems not want to listen.
I don’t know if I am telling you anything new. Or if you have heard this a thousand times already: The fact is, you are dealing with some of the most common Bull Terrier issues, as those just lie within the breed. This breed takes tons of patience, a good sense of humor and at the same time consistency and the ability to assert oneself. That much is for sure.
Many first-time owners feel overwhelmed by the temperament of a Bull Terrier and even people who call themselves “dog trainers” but do not have any experience with this breed can become exasperated with those little furry energy shots.
The good news is that all of those little chaotic destroyers and disobeyers at some point become the most loving and devoted family dogs provided the owners have been consistent and assertive. But it’s a way. And it’s longer than with many other breeds.
Many of the things you have tried so far were probably a step in the right direction already … and the biggest problem right now may be to expect too much success too soon. If you stick to the things that have shown tiny effect so far they will likely show even more success in the future.
A well-trained Bull Terrier takes around three years until the bond with the owner is completed and devotion kicks in. Everything before is usually a real piece of work – and MANAGING!
This breed does not just line up somewhere in the family. It wants to be involved.
Maybe the above is one of the most interesting and important realizations to have: These dogs have really huge personalities
and they need to be managed.
Many of them will never just trot calmly right beside you off leash, just as many herding dogs will do easily.
Bull Terriers seek the fun in life … something they hardly ever lose even when growing older. They do settle a little over time, some of them even become lazy. But the larger number will still keep their funky attitude.
Once we understand the intention and minds of our Bull Terrier, things become a lot easier and strategies reveal.
Leash walking and pulling
A problem in many young dogs. It is more severe with Bull Terriers because their body composition is very compact which makes them heavy and strong compared with other dogs the same size. Therefore handling a pulling Bull Terrier is usually more stressful and can even end up in injury.
Many owners feel like a collar (prong, martingale or just a really sturdy leather collar …) gives them more control over their Bull Terrier. The problem is that the feeling around the neck and the choking does not stop the Bull Terrier’s curiosity and it will keep pulling – with a certain potential for injury to your dog’s neck.
I personally rarely use any collars anymore. I use a sturdy harness – one I actually produced myself. But there are also good options available on the market. For a Bull Terrier a sturdy harness obviously is a good choice. Some have a handle on the top which can come in handy.
Active training is necessary to relieve the problem of pulling – no matter if harness or collars are used. And it will take time. My girl still pulls in different situations, especially when getting excited. But she is responsive to commands and we are able to walk in an orderly fashion if I use my corrections and commands. For me that’s enough to be ok with the situation. Others would possibly want more. So, first of all, you have to know what you want to end up with. And secondly, you then will have to invest time and patience into your goal.
One thing many owners miss when starting their training is to understand that excitement comes in different levels for the dog. And every excitement is a distraction. In general, everything new is super exciting.
Once a puppy got used to the situation in a new home, it is usually pretty easy to start the first training steps there in a calm environment. But it will start to feel incredibly hard to just transfer this to the outside world were there are tons of new and exciting things and distractions that make it extremely hard for the dog to focus.
Focusing is something the dog needs to learn. And focusing with many distractions around is one of the hardest things you can expect from your dog. So, getting there will only work if trained in different steps, gradually raising the bar.
First at home, then in a calm and familiar place outside, then under controlled circumstances in a less familiar place with few distractions. Then unfamiliar and more distractions and finally practicing in everyday life in all kinds of places.
If we try to skip working on impulse control, focus, and very important the dog’s trust in us and just place the dog in the distracting situation the result will likely be that none of our training success at home will work in real life on the street. That is just like trying to write an exam in the middle of a street fair.
Our dog is simply NOT ABLE to make such a huge step and translate what it learned at home to the street.
This is why training is hard and continuous work, a long process and most importantly should be divided into reasonable steps.
There are different approaches to leash training.
Here’s what I did:
I trained under controlled circumstances, meaning I did not expect her to learn in everyday life. During training sessions I used changing direction and “the tree” to get her attention. Every time she started pulling I stopped or changed direction. It is exhausting and it takes lots of sessions. But it works eventually. Still, today if she gets too excited on leash I will just stop and stand still until she remembers that she is not supposed to drag me after her.
During training the key is not to wait until the leash is completely tight. Once close to that point I just used a quick yank (and my command “slow”) to remind my dog that she started running again. Once the leash is under constant tension it is harder for the dog to realize what we want when WE ourselves start pulling on the leash in order to stop the dog from pulling.
So, once we’ve reached that point – tightened leash – the tree (just stopping until the dog releases tension) is the more self-explaining option for the dog to understand or changing direction.
In separate sessions, I first practiced the “heel” command at the same time and did a lot of exercises close to my legs and involving my legs (weaving around legs etc.). Some of them are just cute tricks but they teach the dog to stay close to you. Then I combined the heel command with my leash walking training.
I used different spots on the harness to hook the leash in for “leisure walking” and the training and different leashes (telescope and short leash). This is a great way to let the dog feel the two different situations. I have not kept up with this differentiation. But theoretically it is possible and it will likely help you to separate the leisure walking situations from the orderly walking ones also in the future. Because after all, that’s what our dog needs to understand: WHEN do we want THIS OR THAT from it. Everything that enhances communication and gives the dog clues to make the situation more clear will enhance chances of compliance.
My husband sometimes used a toy to get her attention for heeling which also worked great for the both of them. I myself liked other ways better. So, you see you will have to find the way that suits yourself.
This training took place completely without treats in our case because outside they are no option (not interesting to her).
Especially outside close to busy streets, sometimes a stern voice in our case was key. Bull Terriers are very responsive to voice once they have figured out your different moods and have started to care about, which is not the case right from the start. 🙂
Btw. I also use a very long training leash (50 feet or so) still today when I let my dog play in unfenced environments. I started using it when training the callback in open field. This way she can run freely and I never completely lose control of her. Especially close to busy streets for me, this is very relieving.
When the Bull Terrier is young, chewing often occurs during teething to relieve pain and itch and in general chewing is just a good way to keep themselves busy. Also never to forget dogs are prey animals. So, it should not be too surprising that any of them still have a quite strong urge to dismember things or just “take a look inside”.
The puppy can get chew treats – I used rawhide. But no matter what we give, I always advise supervising (also with toys), because you will want to be ready to intervene if things get eaten or stuck. It is just as with human babies, only this baby has stronger and therefore more destructive teeth.
But in dogs exploring, in general, takes place through the mouth. The mouth, in addition, to our dogs is their “hand”. They hold things in them and use them to eat. That explains their extensive mouth use.
If possible, things that pose a risk, such as small objects (shoes, household items, electronics etc.) should just be out of the dog’s reach in general and especially when still a puppy.
Many owners think they can give their dogs toys and leave them alone playing with them. That’s when most toys get shredded within minutes.
Engaging in play (fetch, chasing or searching things, tug etc.) is usually much more fun for the dog and far less destructive.
That is true especially for new toys which are most enticing and most interesting to the dog.
At the same time training “leave it” and “let go” actively in training sessions will help a lot. I did that with clicker training. But that is not necessarily the only possible way. With clicker training, the dog actively learns in a very positive way that there are things it is supposed to take and things it should leave alone. And it will get responsive to the commands. This is also a great exercise to train giving things away in dangerous situations of choking etc.
Clicker training – or positive reinforcement in general – also gives you great options to train your dog HOW to play with its toys. Reward gently play and interrupt rough play.
Again, all of this takes time does not replace supervision.
My girl today knows that she is not supposed to rip or chew her stuff apart – that’s the result of our training. That does not mean the toys are not breaking over time and need to be replaced. But they last a fair time (some of them for years now). But I never leave stuff with her in her crate or when she is alone – neither hers not ours.
Which brings me to another point: For short periods of absence we have familiarized her with a huge box, which she looks at as her own room, taking naps in there etc.
This box keeps her and our stuff safe when we have to leave for one or two hours and can’t take her with us. Bull Terriers love boxes and if familiarized slowly and in a positive way they do not feel like confinement is something negative.
Another option could be a room prepared for the dog with none of your personal stuff in it the dog could destroy.
However, confinement needs to be strictly limited, because otherwise Bull Terriers can quickly develop obsessive behaviors (licking, biting their feet, for example) and get mentally ill. A few hours a day are tolerable. If you are out of the house for let’s say an 8-hour shift, a box will NOT be a great choice!
In that case options such as a dog walker, doggie day-care or such are necessary. This is not only necessary to let the dog go potty in the meantime, but also because during such a long time frame, boredom/ curiosity will kick in and make destructive behavior more likely. The dog does not look at it as destructive, it is exploring. But the result is often destruction.
A second dog could help to bring diversion. BUT it can also have quite the opposite effect, resulting in both dogs being bored, causing twice the destruction.
Some owners are lucky that a very well behaved dog transfers good manners to the other dog. But this is not something that’s true in general. It just happens – or not. Therefore getting a second dog just for this reason is not a solution and can cause even more trouble in some cases.
Especially two Bull Terriers in one home will certainly provide each other with company and play together. But Bull Terriers are so into humans that no other dog will ever be able to ever completely substitute this relationship.
As some Bull Terriers tend to be loners, even within the same breed, it can also be tricky to get them to like and accept each other in the same household.
If you did not get the two dogs at the same time, a lot of consideration and preparedness may be necessary when adding another dog to the household.
I have also writen an essay abouy chewing:
The trainer called my dog untrainable
This is something that can be answered really quickly: If you encounter a trainer calling your dog untrainable – run! And try to find someone familiar with the breed.
Aggression/ Territorial behavior/ Jealousy
Aggression comes in many stages and can show towards humans as well as other dogs.
Some owners ore mistaking the typical puppy nipping as aggression. I have written about that in several essays also about adult Bull Terriers:
Especially in Bull Terriers it is not rare to see them being incompatible with other dogs and just more drawn to people.
This often starts to show when the dog gets a little older. Also, it is usually a good idea when looking for play pals to seek dogs of the same physiology, such as American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls or other Bull Terriers. Bull Terriers have their very own way of playing which can easily be mistaken by other dogs who will react irritated or worse.
In exchange, Bull Terriers can also feel bothered by the way other dogs play. I have experienced this with my girl. They usually show a lot of patience. But once they get “beyond” the point it can be hard to stop their rage.
My motto is: My girl is not obliged to like every other dog because I also do not like every other human. I have started socializing her as early as possible and try to expose her to as many different situations as I can. But I still try to avoid risks.
I am very careful every time we encounter other dogs. I always take toys off the table to avoid fights over them. And if I feel uneasy in a situation or notice my girl feeling uneasy, I leave.
I never let her play with dogs of inattentive owners because I know once something happens I will be on my own to separate the dogs.
The situation is a little different with humans.
My last Bull Terrier obviously felt uneasy around men for quite some time. It faded a little over the years after numerous encounters with men, but never vanished completely. She never reacted with open aggression. But you could tell from her pose that she felt cornered in that situations.
Bull Terriers are also known to be very territorial. That can result in a lot of barking or not letting strangers enter the home.
These are all situations that need lots of time and training. The goal would be to expose the dog to as many of those situations as possible under CONTROLLED circumstances – not train in everyday life – and reward every positive behavior during the process.
Open aggression towards other people – can never be tolerated and should result in intervention in every case. Causes can be manifold, such as food aggression, jealousy or fear.
With aggression, in my opinion, it is always important to get to the roots of it and find causes and triggers, because the emotions causing aggression can be so different – ranging from pure dominance to plain fear.
In every case, a different strategy is likely applicable.
For example, I would just show my dog who’s boss by voice, posture, and actions that I am boss if I noticed aggression caused by dominance. But I would choose a completely different strategy if my dog growled at me because it feels pain or fear when I handle her.
Jealousy is a hard topic. Also, in this case, aggression should not be accepted as a solution. But I would also try to analyze the triggering situations and environments and see if there are little things I could change with huge effect.
Just really watching our dogs and paying attention, just as they are watching us all the time, can give us a lot of understanding already.
I hope my answer can help a little. It’s not a textbook with easy steps to cross off. But, actually my main intention every time I discuss issues with people is to make them understand that they have to find their own way because for many issues there are no standard solutions.
Every dog is different and so is every handler.
But most of the time, once we get to the point we start to notice the “person” in our dog – not in that slightly weird way of putting pink dresses on them or so :), but by recognizing their intentions and being able to look at behavior we don’t like in a different way than just perceiving it as defiant, strategies start to fall into place on their own and all of a sudden it even becomes easier to be more patient.
Also one of the most underestimated things I experience with owners, again and again, is MANAGING.
That should be my last point therefore: EVERYTHING can be managed until training kicks in. It is just a matter of acting forward-looking and NOT leaving any decisions to an untrained dog.
Example: As long as my dog does not reliably respond to a recall, I just don’t let her run completely off leash. I can use a long training leash to allow my dog the feeling and at the same time still, have the last bit of control. As long as I am not sure that my dog will be friendly with another dog, I only carefully introduce the two if they seem interested in each other, anytime ready to interfere and leave the scene, in the best case warning the other owner that my dog can be bitchy with other dogs. And I don’t expect my dog to be friendly with every other creature. If I have experienced my dog showing aggression towards humans, I handpick the encounters and use people I know to familiarize my dog gradually with being handled by other people than me. Not everybody has to touch my dog anyway. I could make up hundreds of examples. But I think the message is already clear.
I have a 1.5 year male bull terrier who is in consistent training. We are having issues with him trying to play with humans and it starting as licking and then he gets too excited and it can turn into nipping. If we yell no or try to pull/push him away, he becomes hyper focused on his target rather than leaving it alone which can turn into biting or lunging.
I have a 7 month old male Bull terrier, we got him when he was 9weeks old. He has been neutered. We sent him to a 2 week board and train with a e collar when he was 6 month old because he won’t stop biting and has a mind of his own. . When he came back home he still had a lot of his (crazy behavior) and we have to keep the e collar on him except when he sleeps at night in the crate. He will not stop biting and chewing items, when he is out of the crate he roams the house and looks for any object to bite or chew. He has recently developed resource guarding when he eats his food and he will growl if you get near his bowl or try and pet him. We don’t know what to do, and are not sure if we can keep him. Please reply with any assitance
I am sorry to say that, but after reading what you have experienced so far and how you have been handling the situation I can’t help but wondering what brought you to get a Bull Terrier Puppy in the first place and how experienced you are with the breed and dog training in general?
Bull Terriers are a very special breed. They can be awesome companions but they definitely need owners who know what they are doing.
What did your own training look like so far – other that using a shock collar, which admittedly, I am not really a huge fan of.
The thought of putting such a thing around my dog’s neck physically hurts me.
I know a lot of people and even trainers recommend these gadgets. That’s ok. But hardly ever does anybody tell you that these collars (as well as prong collars for example) do not really educate or train a dog at all. They just suppress symptoms of existing and ongoing behavior just like a pain pill kills pain but often does nothing regarding the CAUSE of the pain.
Sometimes such collars do not only cause pain but also health damage in the dog, which is very sad when looking at the fact that dog training (executed by the OWNER) creates a much stronger bond between owner and dog (just not happening with a shock collar), the effects of training are much longer lasting and all in all training is much more effective for enhanced communication with and a better understanding of the dog.
If you like to give me some more details about your everyday life and how you have addressed the food aggression so far, I will be happy to give you some advice that I think may be helpful for you.
Thanks for your response. I was hoping for a more informed response from a so called “expert” in Bull Terriers and not a lecture. You might want to consider how you respond to owners seeking your advice and assistance and not your admonishment. No need to reply any further.
Hi we have a 7 month female our 2nd bull terrier but couldn’t be more different .She is a constant barker and is very territorial at home and on walks if anyone walks in front of us she will bark and has been known to chase people over the park..
She especially doesn’t like small children have no idea why not as we have had her since she was 8 weeks…
I dont know if its because they are small and move quickly she may have a high preying drive but she will particularly lunge and growl at children …which is obviously worrying
Usually, Bull Terriers are great with children. But not EVERY Bull Terrier or dog is. That’s just nature.
Your advantage is that you know what you’re dealing with and can handle situations accordingly.
I’d keep doggie on leash around kids, not leave her alone with small children at any time, not let kids pet her or kneel in front of her giving her a chance to go up on them. I just tell kids she’s not in the mood if the situation feels unsafe to me and I don’t want anyone to pet Mila. Kids usually understand and respect that.
If you want to try and socialize the dog, I’d recommend starting with older kids and other dogs. Allow for a lot of social interaction but always use a controlled environment.
Try to choose a setting you feel comfortable with yourself because if you get nervous your dog feels it and thinks something’s wrong. This will make her more alert and may lead to some undesired reactions. If you can’t manage to find such a setting or feel that your dog becomes hostile easily, maybe she just isn’t one for kids. At some point, we may have to accept that our dogs are their own personalities and that they have a right to dislike others. That doesn’t make them bad characters.
The only important thing then is to always be alert in certain situations and create a safe environment for everyone.
The territorial behavior and the barking in some situations may stick even when she gets older. Many Bull Terriers are pretty territorial because they are always ready to defend their home and their pack. As long as this does not turn into open proactive aggression it should be manageable. Usually, if you introduce people and your dog gets a chance to see that you are friendly with each other they will accept the other person, too. However, there can remain cases where doggie just doesn’t adjust.
Our last Bull Terrier before Mila LOVED people, EVERYONE! Still, there was one man in our circle that she was afraid of for some unknown reason. He always wanted to be friends with her but she could never get herself to accept him. It was just wrong chemistry. Sometimes we just gotta leave it at that.
The older she becomes the more territorial Mila gets. She is 8 yrs. now. I can stop her barking at some point. But I can’t prevent it entirely.
If you want to try to handle your dog’s barking and make it a fun game at the same time, try some of the tips in this article:
We have this same problem…….but our boy nipped and bruised our 7 year old daughters ankle today. I was in the room, she was sat quietly drawing at the table and he just went up and nipped her for no reason. We never leave our children alone with him – we have only had him for 5 months as a resue and i was thankful of this this today. We are trying to train him but with younger children its hard work. It feels horrible to have to remove him from the room every time the children are around but I’m not sure what else to do. He is so lovely the rest of the time. Any advice welcome
you are absolutely doing the right thing being so careful. You can’t trust dogs around little kids. They are – and that is especially true for Bull Terriers – kids themselves (same mindset), the only difference being that they are much stronger and have sharper teeth.
Also, they are animals, meaning they have instincts and we humans never know and notice all possible triggers.
I have experienced seemingly unwarranted “attacks” myself with my girl. She sometimes likes to go after feet and she can also be a little moody. However, she has never seriously hurt us because she knows that she is not supposed to use intimidation when moody.
Just walking over and nip someone can happen for several reasons. It could be meant in a playful manner to tease someone, it could have been the dog just having been triggered by the sight of “something” moving which revealed to be your kid’s foot under the table and the dog not realizing this in time. Bull Terriers have been bred to chase after small animals in their history. So small moving things on the floor can become triggers. It could have been a gesture of dominance towards the kid. It could even just have been to dog “grabbing” your kid seeking attention. You were on site and probably have the most reliable impression of what the incident and motivation felt like to you. But even if it was intended to just initiate fun or play – and even more so if it was dominance – the dog needs to unmistakably understand that use of the teeth will not be tolerated.
The adults in the household need to make that absolutely clear. And the reaction, such as a stern scold and maybe even ignoring (=excluding) the dog for a moment, should come immediately and make an impression in order to help the dog understand WHAT exactly went wrong. Physical punishment is not necessary in my opinion, just saying to make sure nobody gets me wrong when I speak of a stern response. Once the Bull Terrier settles into the family and “its pack” is starting to become important to it they tend to be more compliant and even regret mistakes they made, trying to avoid them in the future (provided they get a chance to really understand what they did wrong). It may take a few times but they will come around. A great way to deepen the impact of the measures is to praise and reward the dog for GOOD behavior around the kids (for example praising it for being gentle and holding still). This way the dog gets a very clear picture of the difference between wanted and unwanted behavior. Also it goes without saying that the kids are also not allowed to tease or hurt the dog. But to me that does not seem to be an issue in your household.
When it comes to nipping, of course, even once the dog is not using its teeth any longer on people it is always good to remain careful and never leave them alone with little kids. Because after all, they may be angels, but you just never know what can trigger instincts and when. When instincts kick in even the best trained dogs can lose their temper.
Being aware of that helps to prevent tragedies.
Good luck with your dog. After what I read from you I am convinced that you are on a good path. And your dog is a good soul, I am sure.
It just needs to get its head a bit more wrapped around the rules.
We have a 2 year old Bull terrier since he was a puppy, he is absolutely beautiful, around us he is just a really big sook and goof ball when he wants to play. Our boy hasn’t had a whole heap of socialisation ( we did attempt to introduce him to my parents Rottweilers although the male was very territorial) and other dog owners just walk away in disgust / in terror due to his breed which breaks our heart, George has always been extremely excited when he sees other Dogs, Cats and Birds he loves EVERYTHING. We have 3 cats which he absolutely adores and soaks up all their attention even to the point they will eat his food out of his bowl at the same time and he does not care, he allows them to.
We recently go a new female bull terrier puppy for his company, we saw some slight signs of depression from no dog interaction (i note, we have not ever had 2 bull terriers at once before so this part is new to us, i have grown up owning multiple rottweilers at once), which we thought it was important to get a puppy so then she will be able to grow and learn to adapt to our how boy, as well as out cats ( they are the true rulers in the house). Our boy was absolutely STOKED that he got a play friend and meanwhile i know and understand bullies play rough although my partner and i are concerned about how rough they do play. Our boy puts his mouth around her neck and bites ( some times pulls) her ears, tumbles on her, and she bites his facts / legs and feet and ears which some times leads to yelping from both ends but they always come back to playing again. I would “assume” that this would be something she is used to given her parents although we get concerned because everything we have taught our older boy goes out the windows ( basic commands) until we speak with authority.
Can you PLEASE give me some advice in the best way to train both of our Bull Terriers and when is the best time to in-convene. Is it best to leave them both in the back yard for a couple of hours to get all of their energy out? We really want our older boy to become calm around her but given his age there is still signs of immaturity.
Additionally – I’ve tried researching MANY bull terrier forums, do you have any pointers to stop bull terriers from biting their tails?
Appreciate your help in advance
I would interrupt any fighting or misconduct immediately. The education of dogs – similar to kids – works two ways. Good habits can transfer but bad habits can transfer, too.
The mischief of the younger dog could easily ruin your former training success with the older dog if you leave the situation unattended.
Rough play is ok to a certain point bit you should also be ready to interfere if rough turns into serious, which can happen.
I would at least be within earshot when the dogs are playing on their own and be ready to interrupt.
As for the tail biting: If the dog is not chasing the tail but truly biting it there may be an underlying health issue. Some dogs start doing such things out of boredom when they don’t get enough exercise or entertainment. But that does not seem to be the case here. Your dog has lots of things going on during the day. So it may be something else. Too much input or tress is also sometimes a reason. But its hard to tell from here.
Talking to a vet would be an option in this case.
Also, I want to recommend a really great forum to you – I am a member there, too:
The owner is a Bull Terrier breeder and the majority of the community there are Bull Terrier owners who know their breed really well. : -)
If you register and post your questions there I am sure that you will quickly receive input from different directions and perspectives on the tail biting and also about how to handle two Bull Terriers in one household. I am sure that could be very helpful for you!
If I can be of any more help, just let me know.