Taking care of an American Bulldog presents a few challenges that people might not realize. One of these challenges is their ingrained stubbornness. This trait can be rather tricky to handle for owners who have little experience in dog training.
For instance, my American Bulldog, Lily, isn’t too interested in learning new tricks or listening to commands. She’d much rather do things her way and will often express this through a series of grunts. It also doesn’t help that these grunts are absolutely adorable.
These grunts came out in full force when I was walking her the other day. On the walk, we came across a friendly Golden Retriever, which piqued Lily’s interest. She tends to be very friendly with other dogs and loves meeting them whenever possible.
I proceed to walk over and introduce myself. Lily starts doing the regular routine of sniffing this dog’s entire body and becoming best friends with her new dog friend. But after five minutes or so, Lily still doesn’t want to leave and continue our walk.
This situation represents a problem for both the other dog owner and me. After all, I’d imagine this woman would like to get on with her day as I would. I attempt to keep walking and continue our daily mosey around our neighborhood.
But Lily doesn’t care and like any real American Bulldog expresses her displeasure with some rather loud grunts. She also shows her disappointment by refusing to move another inch, which is rather frustrating.
This move requires her arching her neck forward and putting all her weight toward the front of her body. What does an American Bulldog owner do in this situation?
Keep a Firm Tone
You’ll want to keep a firm tone when dealing with an American Bulldog’s stubbornness. This lovable, loyal dog will need an owner who can command their respect. If you don’t, these dogs will try to bully and boss you around.
Lily has attempted on numerous occasions to challenge for the top stop in our relationship. Her refusal to move on our walk was just another way of redefining the hierarchy. I responded to this challenge with a firm and quick command, “Let’s Go.”
She hesitated for a minute but eventually continued on our walk with a sad look on her face. She happens to be very petty when things don’t go her way. But she respects me enough as her owner to follow commands now and again.
Developing a Respectful Bond
How did I break through this stubbornness and make her follow commands like the one I gave on our walk? I developed a bond with her through respectful means from an early age. This requires a lot of patience and work to ensure she knows I’m the dominant one in our relationship.
But the bond needs to form through positive means. An excellent training method to break through her hardheadedness was using positive reinforcement. American Bulldogs love attention and thrive on it. You can use their attention-seeking ways to deal with their independent thinking.
Let’s say; Lily started barking at a nearby dog down the street. If I wanted it to stop, I would simply ignore her and refuse to provide the attention she desperately wants. It will reaffirm that barking at other dogs doesn’t get her what she craves.
This method happens to be the most effective way of dealing with bad behaviors from the breed. But you must reward positive behaviors or this method will not be effective. As a result, good behavior should earn them a great deal of attention.
If they learn a new trick or socialize well with another dog, make sure to give them a lot of pats. This action will affirm to them that good behavior earns them your attention. In special occasions, I recommend using treats to fast track the process.
You also must understand that this process takes time. In fact, you have to establish it every day, or an American Bulldog’s stubbornness will take advantage. It happens to be a lot of work, but it becomes gratifying for people who are willing.
Train Using Hand and Voice Commands
I’d approach building this bond by trying to teach them hand and voice commands. These lessons will provide a bonding experience and are an easy way to use positive reinforcement. But teaching these commands won’t always be a quick or straightforward process.
Teaching Lily the “Let’s Go” command was a long and stressful journey. At first, she wasn’t interested in going where I wanted. This feeling was something that she expressed in a lot of different ways, which made the training even harder.
One of these ways was lying on the ground and refusing to move. Keep in mind; Lily isn’t a small American Bulldog by means. She weighs about 90 pounds, and pulling her around isn’t an easy task.
Honestly, it felt like every time I was making a little progress that she’d find a new way to stall it. But working on it every day made it feel like a routine, and it slowly started getting ingrained inside her stubborn mind.
Hand commands helped move the process forward as well. It gave me another way to communicate that I wasn’t joking around when I gave a vocal command. Plus, it’ll come in handy when encountering a situation where your dog might not be able to hear your voice.
Don’t Be Afraid to Contact a Professional
If you’re feeling overwhelmed during this process, don’t hesitate to call in an expert. There’s no shame in acquiring help to deal with your dog’s stubbornness. American Bulldogs can be a challenge even for the most experienced owners.
These experts will be a helpful guide for forming a respectful bond by answering any question or concern. After all, these professionals train dogs for a living and should have some useful techniques to try.
Some people find obedience schools to be a good option, as well. I’d only suggest this route for owners with a puppy. Older American Bulldogs could get overwhelmed in this setting.