Posts Tagged “English Bulldogs”

English Bulldog Understanding Builds the Bond (Part I)

English Bulldog training is a learning adventure on both ends of the leash. Before attempting to teach their dog new behaviors or change unwanted ones, thoughtful dog owners take the time to understand why their pets behave the way they do, and how their own behavior can be either a positive or negative influence on their dog.

Canine Nature

Loving dogs as much as we do, it’s easy to forget they are a completely different species. Despite sharing our homes and living as appreciated members of our families, English Bulldogs do not think or learn exactly the same way people do. Even if you love your Bulldog like a child, you must remember to respect the fact that he is actually a dog.
English Bulldogs have no idea when their behavior is inappropriate from a human perspective. They are not aware of the value of possessions they chew or of messes they make or the worry they sometimes seem to cause. While people tend to look at behavior as good and bad or right and wrong, dogs just discover what works and what doesn’t work. Then they behave accordingly, learning from their own experiences and increasing or reducing behaviors to improve results for themselves.
You might wonder, “But don’t dogs want to please us?” My answer is yes, provided your pleasure reflects back to them in positive ways they can feel and appreciate. Dogs do things for dog reasons, and everything they do works for them in some way or they wouldn’t be doing it!

The Social Dog

Our pets descended from animals who lived in tightly knit, cooperative social groups. Though far removed in appearance and lifestyle from their ancestors, our dogs still relate in many of the same ways their wild relatives did. And in their relationships with one another, wild canids either lead or follow.
Canine ranking relationships are not about cruelty and power; they are about achievement and abilities. Competent dogs with high levels of drive and confidence step up, while deferring dogs step aside. But followers don’t get the short end of the stick; they benefit from the security of having a more competent dog at the helm.
Our domestic dogs still measure themselves against other members of their group – us! English Bulldog owners whose actions lead to positive results have willing, secure followers. But dogs may step up and fill the void or cut loose and do their own thing when their people fail to show capable leadership. When Bulldogs are pushy, aggressive, and rude, or independent and unwilling, it’s not because they have designs on the role of “master.” It is more likely their owners failed to pro-vide consistent leadership.
English Bulldogs in training benefit from their handler’s good leadership. Their education flows smoothly because they are impressed. Being in charge doesn’t require you to physically dominate or punish your dog. You simply need to make some subtle changes in the way you relate to him every day.

Lead Your Pack!

Create schedules and structure daily activities. Dogs are creatures of habit and routines will create security. Feed meals at the same times each day and also try to schedule regular walks, training practices, and toilet outings. Your predictability will help your dog be patient.
Ask your Bulldog to perform a task. Before releasing him to food or freedom, have him do something as simple as sit on command. Teach him that cooperation earns great results!
Give a release prompt (such as “let’s go”) when going through doors leading outside. This is a better idea than allowing your impatient pup to rush past you.
Pet your dog when he is calm, not when he is excited. Turn your touch into a tool that relaxes and settles.
Reward desirable rather than inappropriate behavior. Petting a jumping dog (who hasn’t been invited up) reinforces jumping. Pet sitting dogs, and only invite lap dogs up after they’ve first “asked” by waiting for your invitation.
Replace personal punishment with positive reinforcement. Show a dog what to do, and motivate him to want to do it, and there will be no need to punish him for what he should not do. English Bulldogs naturally follow, without the need for force or harshness.
Play creatively and appropriately. Your dog will learn the most about his social rank when he is playing with you. During play, dogs work to control toys and try to get the best of one another in a friendly way. The wrong sorts of play can create problems: For example, tug of war can lead to aggressiveness. Allowing your dog to control toys during play may result in possessive guarding when he has something he really values, such as a bone. Bulldogs who are chased during play may later run away from you when you approach to leash them. The right kinds of play will help increase your dog’s social confidence while you gently assert your

How English Bulldogs Learn (and How They Don’t)

English Bulldog training begins as a meeting of minds – yours and your dog’s. Though the end goal may be to get your dog’s body to behave in a specific way, training starts as a mind game. Your dog is learning all the time by observing the consequences of his actions and social interactions. He is always seeking out what he perceives as desirable and trying to avoid what he perceives as undesirable.
He will naturally repeat a behavior that either brings him more good stuff or makes bad stuff go away (these are both types of reinforcement). He will naturally avoid a behavior that brings him more bad stuff or makes the good stuff go away (these are both types of punishment).
Both reinforcement and punishment can be perceived as either the direct result of something the Bulldog did himself, or as coming from an outside source.

Using Life’s Rewards

Your best friend is smart and he is also cooperative. When the best things in life can only be had by working with you, your Bulldog will view you as a facilitator. You unlock doors to all of the positively reinforcing experiences he values: his freedom, his friends at the park, food, affection, walks, and play. The trained dog accompanies you through those doors and waits to see what working with you will bring.
Rewarding your dog for good behavior is called positive reinforcement, and, as we’ve just seen, it increases the likelihood that he will repeat that behavior. The perfect reward is anything your English Bulldog wants that is safe and appropriate. Don’t limit yourself to toys, treats, and things that come directly from you. Harness life’s positives – barking at squirrels, chasing a falling leaf, bounding away from you at the dog park, pausing for a moment to sniff everything – and allow your dog to earn access to those things as rewards that come from cooperating with you. When he looks at you, when he sits, when he comes when you call – any prompted behavior can earn one of life’s rewards. When he works with you, he earns the things he most appreciates; but when he tries to get those things on his own, he cannot. Rather than seeing you as someone who always says “no,” your dog will view you as the one who says “let’s go!” He will want to follow.

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Problems Particular to English Bulldogs (Part I)

Most of this breeds health problems are due to their shortened muzzles and their inability to give birth naturally. Although their life span is only about ten to fifteen years, those years are relatively healthy and happy. Still, Bulldogs do occasionally suffer from conditions to which the breed seems to be predisposed. Of course, not all English Bulldogs have these problems. But some do.


When the English Bulldog becomes a teenager (between 6 and 8 months of age), she may develop acne. Just as with human teenagers, this is due to hormonal changes in the body. Keep the dog’s face and wrinkles clean. If the problem gets bad, talk to your veterinarian about prescribing medication. Do not use human acne medications without your veterinarian’s recommendation.

Brachycephalic Difficulties

Like other breeds with shortened muzzles (such as Pugs and Pekingese), English Bulldogs can have breathing difficulties, especially in hot, humid weather. If your dog ever has trouble breathing or her lips or mucus membranes turn blue, call your veterinarian immediately. This may be a temporary problem, but it may also be life threatening.

When to Call the Veterinarian
Go to the vet right away or take your dog to an emergency veterinary clinic if:
– Your dog is choking
– Your dog is having trouble breathing
– Your dog has been injured and you cannot stop the bleeding within a few minutes
– Your dog has been stung or bitten by an insect and the site is swelling
– Your dog has been bitten by a snake
– Your dog has been bitten by another animal (including a dog) and shows any swelling or bleeding
– Your dog has touched, licked, or in any way been exposed to poison
– Your dog has been burned by either heat or caustic chemicals
– Your dog has been hit by a car
– Your dog has any obvious broken bones or cannot put any weight on one of her limbs
– Your dog has a seizure
Make an appointment to see the vet as soon as possible if:
– Your dog has been bitten by a cat, another dog, or a wild animal
– Your dog has been injured and is still limping an hour later
– Your dog has unexplained swelling or redness
– Your dog’s appetite changes
– Your dog vomits repeatedly and can’t seem to keep food down, or drools excessively while eating
– You see any changes in your dog’s urination or defecation (pain during elimination, change in regular habits, blood in urine or stool, diarrhea, foul-smelling stool)
– Your dog scoots her rear end on the floor
– Your dog’s energy level, attitude, or behavior changes for no apparent reason
– Your dog has crusty or cloudy eyes, or excessive tearing or discharge
– Your dog’s nose is dry or chapped, hot, crusty, or runny
– Your dog’s ears smell foul, have a dark discharge, or seem excessively waxy
– Your dog’s gums are inflamed or bleeding, her teeth look brown, or her breath is foul
– Your dog’s skin is red, flaky, itchy, or inflamed, or she keeps chewing at certain spots
– Your dog’s coat is dull, dry, brittle, or bare in spots
– Your dog’s paws are red, swollen, tender, cracked, or the nails are split or too long
– Your dog is panting excessively, wheezing, unable to catch her breath, breathing heavily, or sounds strange when she breathes.

Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate is the flap of skin at the back of the throat. Loud, noisy, or difficult breathing may indicate an elongated soft palate – a common breathing disorder in all brachycephalic (short-muzzled) breeds.
In dogs with this condition, the skin and tissue on the roof of the mouth will either hang in front of the airway or will fall into the larynx when the dog inhales, causing the skin to vibrate or partially block the airways. It can impede breathing. The English Bulldog can also choke on or spit up pieces of kibble and even pass out from a lack of air.
Signs are excessive panting, being unable to calm down when excited, and possibly vomiting. Loud, raspy breathing when the dog is overheated is another sign.
This condition can be taken care of with minor surgery. This is a genetic defect, and dogs with this problem should not be bred.

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