When you adopt a bully breed dog, you might find yourself defending it against some negative stereotypes about bad behavior or aggression. For this reason, it's important to start training your new bully as soon as you bring him home. The last thing you want is your dog jumping on a neighbor or nipping at another canine, reinforcing any wrong notions your friends might already have. To ensure you and your dog get off on the right foot, find out how to get started teaching basic pet-iquette, and learn when it might be time to enlist a professional.
Before you begin, make sure to set yourself up for success by finding the right location and tools to train your bully safely. You should make sure your dog has a collar and leash that fit comfortably and allow you to control him if needed. Bullies are stout breeds, so look for leashes made of a strong material that won't break and will allow you maximum control. Many experts, including dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, are against prong, shock or choke collars, and instead recommend head collars like the Gentle Leader for bully breeds. These collars will allow for more control without hurting your dog. You should always keep your dog leashed when training in a public place and try to find a distraction-free zone where other animals aren't likely to catch your trainee's attention.
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) recommends learning what motivates your dog. Rewarded behaviors are most likely to be repeated, so if you can figure out what motivates your dog, you will unlock the key to positive training. Some dogs respond to food rewards while others like toys or praise. Experiment with your bully until you find the right reward, and then you can really begin working on commands and correcting any behavioral problems. Start with teaching basic movement commands such as "sit," "stay" and "come." Bully breeds are extremely intelligent and should master these commands easily.
The general belief is that puppies are easier to train because they have a clean slate to work with. While this might be true, the old adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is not. You can teach an adult dog how to behave around others and to follow basic commands. In fact, some adult dogs might be easier to train, since they may be calmer and more settled than puppies.
Remember, regardless of your bully dog's age, consistency is key. Just because your dog has learned a command doesn't mean you can stop reinforcing it. Continue to expect the best behavior out of your pooch and praise him or her for following your instructions. Once he's mastered the basics, consider signing up for the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program. This program is perfect for bully breeds as they generally excel at obedience, plus many insurance policies will give a discount on liability policies if your bully is certified as a CGC.
Accepting Advice and Assistance
You might know more about your dog's history if you purchase him from a breeder, but adopted bullies don't always have a violent history, as some people believe. Most shelters will have conducted temperament testing to see how your dog will respond to stimuli such as food, other pets and strangers, which will give you a head start in working with your new dog. Plus, adopted bullies who have experienced neglect or dominant training techniques might be very eager to please a new owner who takes a gentler training approach.
However, if your dog exhibits behavioral problems or has a history that's affecting his level of learning, it might be a good idea to consult a professional dog trainer. Look for one who has worked with bully breeds in the past and believes in positive training methods. Get recommendations from friends, and don't be shy about asking any potential trainers how they feel about bully breeds before you hire them. Whether you enlist the help of a pro or decide on a do-it-yourself approach, consistent and positive training will help ensure you and your bully enjoy a happy and long life together.
How to Socialize Your Bully Breed
The key to all socializing is taking it slow and steady.
Bully breed dogs are naturally social animals who love being around people, but if they aren't properly socialized, they can become timid or develop unruly behavioral issues. As with any new pet, it's important to introduce your bully to all types of people as soon as possible so that strangers won't faze him. Unlike other dogs, however, bullies already have a strike against them due to misconceptions about their temperament, so it's especially crucial that your dog knows how to behave in public. In this article, you'll learn how to get started, tips for easy socialization, and how to introduce your bully to other dogs, too.
Socializing with People
It's essential that you establish a close bond with your bully before you worry about socializing him with other people. Spend the first few weeks getting him adjusted to his new surroundings and giving him lots of one-on-one attention. Once you have earned your bully's trust and admiration, you will have better results socializing him with other people.
To start, consider registering your bully for basic obedience lessons where he'll be around professional trainers who can work on any bad habits, such as jumping. After your bully has had time to learn a few basic commands, start introducing him to men, women, children, people of different races and sizes, men with facial hair, and people wearing scarves and heavy coats. Variety is the key to getting your bully used to different faces, and the more he's around all types of people, the more comfortable he will become. Just remember that safety comes first, and always have your bully leashed and under your control when introducing him to strangers.
Socializing with Other Dogs
Introducing your bully to other dogs is an entirely different matter, since bully breeds tend to prefer people. Not all bullies are going to get along with other dogs, and it's important to know your dog's personal tolerance level before proceeding. If you're adopting your dog from a shelter, ask them to conduct temperament testing to find out how welcoming your bully is to other canines. If he shows signs of dog-aggression, it's best to keep him away from other dogs at all times. If he seems open to a little dog-on-dog interaction, work with an experienced trainer to introduce your bully to other dogs gradually.
If you adopt your bully breed dog when he's a puppy, you might have better luck socializing him with other dogs while he's young. According to Petfinder.com, the sooner you begin introducing your little tail-wagger to other dogs, the more likely he is to accept them when he's an adult. Dog parks probably aren't the best place to socialize any dog, and many animal welfare groups, including Pit Bull Rescue Central, don't recommend these doggie gathering places for bullies ever -- regardless of how well-mannered your bully is. The key to all socializing is taking it slow and steady; never push your dog into interacting with a person or dog if he seems timid or hesitant. Trust your dog's instincts, and he'll trust you.