A puppy is just following its own desires without even knowing about human definitions, such as “right” or “wrong”
We all know that dogs can develop a conscience and at some point know how to differ between “right” and “wrong”.
But it is incomparably harder for them to learn the human definitions of “right” and “wrong” without any guidance and without an owner that is able or willing to provide the appropriate learning experience.
Most dogs are more than willing to submit, to blend into an existing social group and to follow rules.
But without guidance they simply cannot know which rules to follow – a situation that bears a very high risk for them to fail within the family.
I personally am a huge advocate of training a dog by positive reinforcement, because it is a very positive, trust-building and rewarding method for both dog and owner. However, it is not a very immediate learning method. Positive reinforcement is based on making the dog learn, which behaviors are wanted by the owner and beneficial for the dog at the same time. This takes time and patience.
Many Bull Terrier owners will probably agree that at sometimes handling this breed can be difficult, especially puppies and adolescent Bull Terriers. English Bull Terriers need a very long time to mature mentally, which can be challenging and overwhelming – especially for inexperienced owners who “did not see that coming”.
A Bull Terrier’s philosophy of life seems to be “having fun”, but also giving fun in all possible facets.
This attitude is often misinterpreted as mischief or bad behavior.
In addition these mid-sized dogs are very rugged little creatures and not really aware of their strength. Simply the way they are waltzing through the world – and over people or other animals, even without any bad intentions – needs guidance, because otherwise that action alone can really hurt or cause injuries in the worst case.
With Bull Terriers there are situations that simply do not allow to wait for the right circumstances to be able and positively reinforce wanted behavior or in other words: Sometimes with this breed more immediate learning methods can be very helpful in addition to positive reinforcement.
Especially with a very young Bull Terrier, owners will likely encounter numerous situations in which for example simply ignoring unwanted behavior is just not enough to achieve quick results. But quick responses in some situations can be vital.
The young Bull Terrier is experiencing the world, testing everything with his mouth, because that is his “hand”. That manifests in the annoying nipping many owners experience with their new puppy. The puppy is going full power on hands, feet, even into faces, scratching and biting.
This is especially painful while they do have their razor sharp puppy teeth, but can also hurt later once they have their adult teeth, if they have not learned how to use them appropriately.
At this point many owners become desperate and think they have gotten a “bad dog” or an “aggressive” dog.