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Thread: Suddenly Aggressive English Bulldog

  1. #1

    Suddenly Aggressive English Bulldog


    I am the owner of a 1 yr old, male, English Bulldog. We got him when he was 4 months old and he has always been very calm, passive, and loving toward everyone - including other dogs, strangers, etc. We got him neutered when he was 9 months old. The past few months he has been suddenly more aggressive with me, but not my husband at all. We try to put him on his back as "discipline," like our breeder told us to but he doesn't seem to understand that I am in charge. He listens to my husband - but not to me at all.

    It was bearable until the past few weeks when he began getting playful and excited outside to the point where he would just run and run and run - which I don't mind.. but then when I would try to get near him he would get very aggressive and snarl, growl, and actually bite me. When he first started doing it - it seemed like a game to him, but not it is at the point where I do not like taking him out by myself because he has bitten me to the point of breaking skin.

    We are just at wits end. We tried obedience training when he was 5-6 months old and he just laid on the floor while all the other dogs were learning. We have tried "dominance training" as per his breeder as well as click training.

    I have heard of the pennies in a can trick but he seems to be very skittish around MANY household objects like the broom, or anything that makes noise - so I think shaking a can with pennies would send him over the edge.

    I have thought about just leashing him all the time in our back yard, that way there is no chase to get him inside which may be what is getting him excited but when you put a leash on him he cowls down like it is going to hurt him and won't go potty.

    Please? Any suggestions would be so helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Northern California
    You're right; it IS a game!

    Flipping a rambunctious puppy/adolescent over onto its back while it's in "fun" mode only riles them up more.

    I firmly discourage alpha rolls and "dominance training". Instead, try rewarding the good behavior and discouraging bad behavior. I have a sneaking doubt that your rolling him is actually causing fear in him which would make him lash out.

    There are essentially two ways to discourage bad behavior. You can use an aversive (i.e. pennies in a can) or you can ignore it. I suggest ignoring it. The problem is, you have to be consistent when you ignore it. If you ignore once and give in another time, you've just undone all your training. However, if you can effectively ignore and reward at the right moments and be consistent about it, your dog will learn much more quickly and you won't need to resort to positive punishment (which is what aversives are). Ignoring a dog when it it asking for attention is called negative punishment. I'm a solid believer in negative punishment and positive reinforcement. If you do it correctly and efficiently, you'll realize that there's absolutely no need for unnecessary aversives.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Northern California
    Sorry, I realize now that I should probably be more specific

    The playfulness and nipping:
    I'm getting the picture that he's acting like a normal adolescent and is trying to entice you to play by jumping, bolting, mouthing, etc. Whenever he does this, he's trying to solicit attention. So, you just have to remove yourself from the situation. If he's in the yard and he's doing this to you, immediately walk back into the house and close him out. Try to enter the yard again. If he does it again, immediately leave. Your timing is very important! Eventually, he will stop jumping/nipping. At this point, get a Sit or Down or whatever from him and give him a treat. Now, he can have your attention. Repeat this any time he acts unruly, and he'll quickly learn self control.

    Not listening to you:
    I don't think he necessarily doesn't believe you're the leader. I just think you need to spend more time going over the basics with him (and try not to use aversives). Take about 5-10 minutes every day to work on basic obedience. Take him into a quiet room and just spend time training the old stuff. Eventually, try the basic ob. in the living room, the kitchen, the backyard, the front yard, etc. The behaviors will generalize and he will listen to you.

    Not coming:
    It's basically the same as above. Recalls are especially fun to teach because you always have to keep them quick and fun. Throughout the day, periodically call your dog in a happy voice. As soon as his head turns your way, click/treat or just visibly offer him the treat. Repeat repeat repeat. Eventually, try it in the yard, the front yard, the streets, etc. The more you repeat it, the more bombproof it becomes.

    Hope that helps!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Waltham, MA, USA
    I just wanted to add that Bulldogs, while not the rocket scientists of the dog world, CAN learn, but are also known be very stubborn. So the key in any training is you need to be more consistent than he is, more stubborn than he. If the "pennies in a can" would freak him out too much, would a spray bottle of water do the trick? Some dogs, alas, think that's just the best thing ever, but it works as discipline for some.
    I've Been Frosted

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Saint Louis, Missouri-USA
    I just want to add, because we have a bulldog as well and had experienced the almost exact problems you have been having. He's not changed completely, but to solve some of our problems we started taking him for two walks a day. I know that bulldogs aren't "suppose to" want to walk, but ours did, and he is so much better!

  6. #6
    This is a great topic, story. I have raised, as pets only, over 8 great English bulls. They are absolutely the best dogs around. The ironic thing, is that every single one on my dogs as well as my friend's dogs does the exact same thing at age 1-1.5 years. I do not see this published, but it is scientifically proven beyond a reasonable doubt in my observation. My friend's bulls, just turned 14 months, stated the dogs wanted to bite the mail man and they wanted to give them up. I told them , give them 3 months and you will have to wake them up in the laundry room floor. If you give them up you will never forgive yourself. My friends thought I was a psychiatrist guru because I was correct. One other point, If you really want to be in charge of the house, the English bull is not a great choice, because he/she is stubborn and has no real reason to think you know more than they do. When you ask an English Bull to come, and he / she doesn't, trust me they must have a good reason, too tired etc. You will never out control a Bull, that is what makes them great. For some reason English bull dogs go through a terroristic phase for 3-4 months, then they get old very quickly and you will regret the playful moments.

  7. #7


    I have alpha-rolled, with amazing success.

    I believe your bull is exercising his alpha.

    I have very strong feelings about this issue, all of which I have posted heretofore.

    Your baby has lost respect for you as the alpha.

    My other posts deal wtih this, and I don't believe a reward system works with an English Bull Dog. They are built and bred for the downfall of cattle.

    Their jaws were genetically designed to clamp on the fore leg. The docked and or short tail are designed to keep the cattle from grabbing hold and flinging

    I believe we must ALWAYS research our breeds when dealing with behavioural issues.

    English Bulls are decidedly single minded.

    Neutering was an exceptional step. You must now show him YOU are the boss.

    Please see my prior post on that one.

    This can be a deal-breaker in so many dogs.

    We must grab hold of the causations. What are the triggers?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Northern California
    The English Bulldog of today is a far far far cry from the English bulldog of yesteryear. The aggression and tenacity of Bulldogs has FAR been dulled down ever since the outlaw of their bloody sport. Most "bad" behavior today is just a miscommunication between dog and human (and, besides, it doesn't sound like this pup is necessarily being aggressive than a regular adolescent).

    A reward system works with all animals. As does punishment. Positive/negative reinforcement and positive/negative punishment are the building blocks of basic animal behavior and learning. But punishment can merely suppress symptoms as can a person reward the WRONG behavior. The trick is to know the right balance of positive/negative reinforcement and positive/negative punishment. Most people would agree that alpha rolls are unnecessary forms of positive punishment. From this person's post, it sounds like the alpha rolls aren't even registering with the dog. If they're not working, why keep doing it?

    Leadership is based on respect, not physical dominance. It takes longer, but it stays. A subordinate dog willingly rolls over onto its back. The alpha does not need to physically grab it and roll it and hold it there. My reactive dog willingly Down's and rolls over onto her back BY HERSELF. I do not need to roll her, I never have, and I never will.

  9. #9

    Bully Bulldog

    I have a 2yr old female English Bulldog, Annie. We also have a 5 yr old Bichon, Pippin and a 4 yr old Bichon Frodo.

    From the beginning, Pippin never really liked the idea of bringing in a new puppy but has tolerated her. Frodo did fine and he and Annie play together at least a couple times a day.

    Recently, Pippin and Annie have been "mixing it up" a bit. It was maybe once a week, now it's almost once a day. They have never really hurt each other, I always thought it sounded worse then it was....however this morning Pippin's eye was cut...I was so upset with Annie I tried to flip her on her back but she went down like an oak tree so I rushed to check out Pippin knowing he was bleeding and was terified it was his actual eye. As it turns out, it was the skin above the eye.

    Pippin was VERY upset, Frodo was shaking and Annie looked so sorry for what happened. I don't know what to do now.

    I feed Pippin and Frodo in the kitchen, sometimes put a broom across the doorway (Annie won't cross anything on the floor!) until they are done eating. Annie is fed in the next room. There is never food left in the dishes, I remove the dish if they don't finish it to make sure there is no fighting.

    I did think the food was the issue and sometimes it's my attention they both want, but lately the fights have been random.

    Help, I love all my dogs, they all love kids and other dogs. None of them have ever snapped or bit anyone. There must be something we are NOT doing to allow this to continue. Annie is 50lbs to the Bichon's 20 lbs, I worry with her huge jaws she could really do some damage...Any help would be so appreciated.

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