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Thread: English Bulldog, 1 year old, suddenly aggressive... to other pets and children. Need help.

  1. #1

    English Bulldog, 1 year old, suddenly aggressive... to other pets and children. Need help.

    Brutus just turned a year old, and had been a great addition to our family, until recently. We have three other dogs, two older males (8 and 11), and a female (none of them bulldogs). Lately he's been showing aggression towards the other males. He was always sort of trying to show dominance over them, but lately he's been attacking the oldest one when food is out or when my wife is showing the older dog affection. I basically separate them and let Brutus know that I'm the "lead dog," and it's pretty obvious he knows that.

    Last night was a different story. I have an 8 year old autistic son, who doesn't much care for Brutus. He doesn't torture him or anything, he'd just rather not have him around. Brutus used to chase him when he was a puppy, trying to get him to play. My son never really went for it, just wasn't his thing. Well, last night, my boy and the dog were upstairs, and my son came downstairs crying, with a small cut on his lip. We were asking him what happened when Brutus came downstairs. My son sat on the floor, face to face with him, and Brutus went after him and bit his arm. No food was involved. We don't really know what happened upstairs, but I don't care if my son pulled Brutus' bottom lip over his head, it is unacceptable for him to bite him in the face.

    I love my dog, I really do, but there is no way I'm going to let this go on. This is my first Bulldog, is this behavior common to the breed? I didn't think it was. Like I said, he knows I'm the "lead dog" in the house, do you suppose he thinks he's second in command and can do whatever he wants if I'm not looking?

    Any suggestions would be most helpful. If I can't get this rectified, and soon, this dog has gotta go. I can't have him biting my kid.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Waltham, MA, USA
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    35,969
    First - is he neutered? If not, get that attended to right away, as that will help. It is not his breed, it is the fact that he is now entering his sort of "teenage boy" phase, and is bound to challenge authority. If he is already neutered, it's a behavioral thing. What kind of training has he had? How old was he when you got him? Sorry for so many questions, but the answer really depends on knowing all this!

    As your son is autistic, I know some have trouble knowing how to interact with other people and creatures. Right now, teach him that with dogs, it is never ever a good idea to stare a dog in the eye face to face. While in humans its fine, with dogs it is seen as a challenge of authority, and no good can come of it. And tell your son not to worry, he and I now share something in common. I have a scar on MY lip, from hugging s trance dogs when I was a kid. I was only 4, and I remember my mother explaining that not every dog appreciates being hugged, and I should always ask its person beforehand. She said "Reggie" probably though I was trying to squeeze him to death!
    I've Been Frosted

  3. #3
    I have had him since I brought him home from the breeder, he was about 2-1/2 months old, I think. He is not neutered, I was hoping to breed him. No formal training, but i've bred and raised dogs all my life. He does know that I'm the boss, like all my dogs do, but I've never had this happen. I can try to explain things to my son, but he's mostly non-verbal and may not completely understand. Thanks for your help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Waltham, MA, USA
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    35,969
    Now might be a good time to do some professional obedience training, in a class. You might have to call around to find a class that will take him as he's not neutered, and some places are picky about that, but a class would help not only reinforce the training you have done, but get him more used to being around other dogs, and teach him "manners." As I said, he's in that unruly teenager stage, so the sooner the better! Ask for references, too. Any good teacher will have some available.

    I wasn't sure where on the spectrum your autistic son is, as it can vary so much. As best as you can explain to him, no looking dogs in the eye. He likely already is wary of the dog, so once you have done the class, and the dog is better behaved, maybe have you son help walk him, and watch you go through some training with the dog every day. The repetition will be helpful for the dog, and likely your son, too. Explain to the teacher you'd like to get the dog to respond to hand signals as well as verbal ones, and that might work with your son, too.

    Bulldogs are notoriously stubborn, so be prepared to be more persistent than you have ever been with any other dog. He WILL test your patience, and may cause you to doubt your own sanity, but chances are he is not only trainable, but will make a great dog once he's got more training and socialization under his paw.
    I've Been Frosted

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    3,604
    Your Bulldog is still a puppy, at 1 year old, and has already bitten your son... call a certified pet behaviorist right now! While it could have been an accident or a playful nip, it IS unacceptable. This website will help you find a certified behaviorist in your area: http://iaabc.org/ What you DO NOT want to do is contact a random, unaccredited, uneducated trainer. Anyone can call themselves a trainer, without truly understanding applied, scientific methods.

    This is not about you "being the boss". It's about a dog who is growing up & sounds like he really lacks impulse control and fails to give proper warnings, which is common in Bulldogs. People believe the stereotype that Bulldogs are lazy, passive pets; but they were bred for hundreds of years for bull baiting and dog fighting, and their edge does come out from time to time. That doesn't mean you should counter his aggression with even more aggression; you're just going to get a ticking timebomb of a dog who fights you tooth and nail. What you want to do, and what a behaviorist will help you do, is lower his arousal levels, make your son and other dogs positives to him instead of threats, and generally teach him better self control and manners. Don't make him feel the need to guard, by feeding him separate from the other dogs, at least until you get professional advice on how to deal with guarding. It also sounds like he'd benefit from more intense, individual exercise and obedience training. Bulldogs are definitely bull-headed, they are super lovable, but they are not your average dog.

    I would highly recommend neutering your dog! I'm fine with keeping dogs intact as long as they don't have behavioral issues. If they do, it's going to be worth it to neuter him, it's going to calm him down to not have testosterone pumping through him. Why would you want to breed a dog that shows aggressive behavior at only 1 year old? Behavior is passed down, and it's likely that he is from less-than-stellar lines to be displaying these traits. That does NOT make him a bad dog, that does not mean he isn't adorable or can't be a wonderful pet, it just means that it's not a good idea to breed poor examples of the breed. Bulldogs should be incredibly good-natured, Bulldog people have been improving the breed so much as far as temperament and it's not a good idea to breed anything less than an excellent example of the breed.



    <3 Erica, Fozz n' Gonz

  6. #6
    My bulldog is 1 1/2 and he is the same way! He has already bit my son's hand, he is 2. Then the other day he actually took off after the neighbor kid. She was playing in our sandbox and he ran over to her and bit her hand!! I've always had pugs...if I would have known that bulldogs even had a little chance of being aggressive towards children then I would have never gotten one. I would have stuck with pugs. All bulldog owners that I have ever talked to say how great their bulldog is with their children, etc...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Waltham, MA, USA
    Posts
    35,969
    Mugs - is your bully neutered? What sort of training has he had?
    I've Been Frosted

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