English Bulldogs are warm, cuddly, intelligent, and friendly, so it is no surprise they will try to get away with just about anything. They just know they are cute! Their whimsical and curiosity seems to get them into a lot of mischief. It is wise to train them at an early age but these tasks can be challenging since they appear to be stubborn as they are playful.

There are tricks in handling your stubborn English Bulldog. Here are Ten Tricks To Deal With A Stubborn English Bulldog:

  1. Tasty Treats
  2. Positive Reinforcement,
  3. Daily Exercise/Short Training Sessions
  4. Crate Training
  5. Toys
  6. Tasks/Obstacle Course
  7. Socialization
  8. Set a Routine,
  9. Ignore Bad Behavior
  10. Remove Distractions

Training your English Bulldog is rewarding for you and your beloved pet. Learning their behavior and understanding your English Bulldog will provide a set foundation for a positive experience. Most believed they are stubborn, but in reality, they are trying to understand their rank among their new pack. 

Related: 7 Steps to Train an English Bulldog to Walk on Leash

The detailed list of ten tricks in handling your stubborn English Bulldog

Treats

Treats are a sure way to get your bulldog’s attention. The treat will have your dog focused and more apt to do your command since the treat is the reward. The treat needs to be something really special, nothing given regularly. Finding the perfect treat in which will gain your bulldog attention may require some trial and error. Most dogs respond well to “meat” treats as opposed to fruit, vegetable, or peanut butter. However, I must add that cheese will go a long way. As with any food or treat, please consult your vet to ensure health safety.

  • Have the treat in your non-dominant hand ( this will free up your dominant hand to guide, if necessary). Show the treat to your dog. Now with the treat in your hand, your dog will follow the treat. This will enable you to “guide” your dog into the position or behavior you wish. 

Example: If you wish for your dog to sit, let your dog sniff the treat then move the treat over the dog’s head moving towards the back of the dog. The dog’s head will move upward to follow, then by default; the dog will sit. Once the dog sits- say good, “sit,” good boy/girl, good “sit.”  Repeat this about three times in one session and soon enough will your dog will associate the treat to “sit” or any other behavior you set up ( down, side, up, off, etc.).  This method is called “luring.” For further information on training with Luring.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement is an excellent way to train your dog or any pet for that matter. This method teaches the animal good behavior will be rewarded through acceptance.  Dogs are always seeking to gain acceptance, attention, and love from their owners. They view their owners as the pack leaders, the alpha.

 Most people will use treats as the “positive” for the reinforcement. However, using a treat is a clever method; it is not the only option. Playtime, toys, verbal praise, belly rubs, or going for a walk are other successful methods. 

Daily Exercise/Short Training Sessions

Exercise is an excellent way to push that stubbornness out of your dog. Any dog that doesn’t receive daily exercise will become bored or restless. This will cause them to become destructive and causing an unhappy home.  Daily walks or exercise will tire out their stubbornness. A tired dog is a happy dog. Usually combining exercise with another form of training is a sure-fire way to turn your stubborn dog into an obedient dog.

Short training session is another form of exercise for your pup. It will exercise their minds and bodies. However, keep any training short since most animals have a short attention span. Five (5) to ten (10) minutes of training is crucial for a successful session.

Crate Training

Crate training. Crates are always a good way to train your dog. The crate provides a “safe” area and personal space for your dog. It will also prevent destructive behavior if the dog is ever left unsupervised.

  • A word of caution- a crate is ONLY for short time sessions if the dog has been misbehaving. The crate is not to be used for punishment for long periods of time. If your dog is acting up a firm “no,” and then walking the dog to its crate for a brief 10 minute “time out” will go a long way in correcting the behavior. 
  • When you let your dog out of its crate, give short praise, and then return to normal activities.  Dogs do not hold grudges and are always seeking your approval, acceptance, and guidance.

Toys

Toys. They will gain your dogs’ attention if they are designed to entertain rather than just chew. Chew toys are excellent and highly recommended. However, puzzle toys will exercise the mind by teaching the dog problem-solving skills. When your dog is behaving, giving a toy to him will be a pleasant reward.

Since English bulldogs have such immense jaw strength, you’ll need a good toy that can hold up to the pressure. This one from Amazon works very well for bulldogs.

Tasks/Obstacle Course

Tasks or an obstacle course. Giving your dog a task or running them through a short and easy obstacle course builds confidence in your dog.  English Bulldogs are couch potatoes, but they are proud. They love to assist their owners in any way they can so giving them things to do will always have your dog alert and ready.

  • An obstacle course is good for keeping your dog active, keeping joints and muscles flexible. The added benefit to an obstacle is keeping your dog’s mind engaged in the process of exercising.

Socialization

Socializing your dog will keep them well mannered. Usually, isolated dogs or non-socialized dogs are nervous, hyper-sensitive, easily stressed, and unruly.  Taking your dog to a park is a good place to start for socialization. The interaction with other dogs will teach them the behavior in a “pack” situation. Other dogs will train and teach your dog certain behaviors, good or bad. Be sure to have yourself nearby to monitor the interaction.

  • Another method for socialization is taking your dog to a friend’s house. This will teach the dog to interact in another home environment from their own. They must understand in this environment whether it is their own home or friends that the same rules will apply. Do not allow your dog to get away with anything different. If you do not allow your dog to relax on the sofa, then do not allow them to do so at the friends’ house.
  • Car Rides are excellent and a safe way for your dog to experience different smells, sights, and sounds. Car rides are a simple form of socialization. They can pop their head out the window and take in the outer world all in the safety of your vehicle.  

Car ride behavior is just as important as any other. Will you allow them in the front or back of the car? It is better to have your dog in the back seat preferable with a doggy seat belt. This will teach him he is not allowed to roam freely, which can and will be dangerous as you are driving. There is nothing more aggravating and yet dangerous is having your dog jump in your lap as you are driving.

Set A Routine

Set a routine.  Setting a routine provides stability and sets a clear expectation for your dog.  They will feel safe and confident when they have a routine to follow. Anything unknown can trigger fear since they will be unsure as to what comes next. If your dog knows their feeding time, nap time, or playtime will help distribute their focus and energy properly. The routine doesn’t have to be strict but just having their feeding time or playtime set to a certain time frame will keep them well-balanced. Repeat, repeat, and repeat.

Ignore Bad Behavior

Ignore bad behavior. Dogs are like children. They will do just about anything to gain your attention. Your dog doesn’t know bad behavior from good behavior unless you teach them the difference. Good behavior is rewarded with treats, attention, and praise. Therefore, bad behavior should not be rewarded with a treat, attention, or praise. 

  • Barking/whining- A firm “no” or “quiet” told ONCE and then ignore will teach them they will not receive an award for their bad behavior.  Even a squirt of water from a water bottle will assist in correcting bad behavior.
  • Pulling on a leash- STOP walking and ignore your dog. This will take great patience but this method is proven to be successful. Once your dog relaxes or quits pulling you may proceed to walk. You may stop more than walking but in time, your dog will walk perfectly by your side. Keep in mind by allowing your dog to walk in front of you rather than beside you is giving them the message they the alpha dog and in control. Remember, you are the alpha!
  • Guarding or aggression- always consult with a professional when dealing with aggression, possessive, or guarding issues. This type of behavior can easily escalate into an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Most of these issues involve a mental behavior issue, and many can be corrected once you find the source of the behavior.

Remove All Distractions

Most dogs appear stubborn if they ignore a command because there is a distraction in the environment.  Removing the distraction, this will cause your dog to focus on you rather than that interesting squirrel playing in the yard. You want your dogs’ undivided attention at any given time.  Distractions are everywhere, but when you are starting to train your dog to be sure to do so in a distraction-free area.

Over time introduce small distractions in your training. You always want to be the most interesting above everything else. Your dog will eventually learn that by keeping his/, her focus on you will produce the biggest reward.

In Conclusion

It all comes down to spending time with your dog in a patient and loving manner no matter what the activity will be. Your dog looks to you for guidance and their place in your home “pack.” Whatever you allow your dog to do or not do will become part of their daily regime. They will display the behavior you taught in any setting. If you allow your dog to jump up to greet you, then they will see this as acceptable behavior and will do it to other people.  Set clear and socially accepted behaviors for any environment.

Do you remember how it is in a new place? Or starting a new job? You are unsure, hesitant, and a bit frustrated if you are not sure what to do or what is expected from you?  This is the same for your beloved English Bulldog. Clear communication and clear expectations are key to raising a well-mannered and happy dog.

Related Questions

Should I Spank My Dog For Bad Behavior? 

Absolutely NOT! Spanking your dog gives an unclear message to your dog.  Other dogs do not spank each other when unacceptable behavior is displayed. Therefore, a dog doesn’t understand hitting other than it is unpleasant. Hitting or spanking your dog may cause your dog to become fearful and worse aggressive.  If you spank your dog with your hand, the dog will associate your hand to unpleasant. This will cause confusion since it is YOUR hand that feeds and shows affection by petting. 

Proper disciplining your “stubborn” English Bulldog will turn that stubbornness into a laid-back, well-mannered couch potato. You shouldn’t spank or hit your pet. There are so many other methods to control or training your dog. Your pet is a family member and should be treated with love, care, and respect.

What is Scruffing?

Scruffing your dog is a technique that is used to correct a behavior. Scruffing is said to be an acceptable form of discipline since other dogs scruff each other when unacceptable behavior is displayed among the pack. This is a controversial subject since some will argue that since scruffing is used with your hand, then your hand becomes a potential threat and your dog may display fear or aggression if done. 

However, some will argue that scruffing is perfectly safe and produces desired results.  It is wise to use this method only if you properly understand the technique and the disposition of your dog.

What Precautions Should I Consider Before I Train My English Bulldog?

Before you set out to do a training session with your bulldog, be aware of certain issues like:

  • Age of your dog- this will determine the energy level of your training sessions
  • Conditions of the environment- Is it too hot or too cold? Does the environment have any health concerns like a park may have hazardous plants or debris? Be observant. 
  • Aliments your dog may have- If your dog has health issues, adjust your training or exercise accordingly
  • Understanding your dog’s limitations-English Bulldogs have flat faces, stout bodies with short legs. Keep this in mind when doing any training. They cannot handle heat and humidity due to their flat faces, which makes them prone to breathing issues. Their short legs carry their bulky build and may tire easily so short sessions in a comfortable climate.

Also, keep in mind English Bulldogs are prone to hip dysplasia. (disease of the hip in which the ball and socket joint is malformed). This will limit their movement and may hinder any type of exercise. Always consult your vet before you introduce exercise to your dog.

Should I Use A Prong Collar or Choke Collar On My English Bulldog?

Many swear by this method of training since it will apply pressure on the dogs’ trachea, hoping it will stop a dog’s movement. An English Bulldogs trachea is narrow which makes it a great threat for serious injury. Discretion must be used if you decide to use this method on your bulldog.  A better method not only for bulldogs but in many others opinion is a harness.  A harness goes across the chest so when pressure is applied, it stops the whole body rather than choking the dog to a stop.

Some will argue a harness will cause the dog to build up muscle and hinder stopping but rather will encourage pulling. However, pulling can happen on a collar too. At least a harness will cause harm to your dog. Proper collar or harness training will keep your dog from pulling.

Should I Use A Clicker When Training My English Bulldog?

Clicker training is a very popular method, especially among professional dog trainers. The “clicker” produces a sharp click noise, which is designed to activate your dog’s attention.  You can purchase a clicker, however, a click of your tongue, a whistle, or a clap of your hands will have the same effect.  However, anyone can clap or whistle so a clicker is preferable. Whatever method you use, whether a clicker or other form it would be easier to designate a special unique sound so your dog will know it is YOU that is demanding his/her attention.

Proper training is essential for the health and happiness of not only for your dog but for you as well. Many websites will offer tips and tricks to assist you. https://smartdoguniversity.com/how-to-deal-with-a-stubborn-dog-full-article/ is an excellent website to start you on your way of successful training.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.

Author

The Eyerly Family is a tight knit family from Texas. Married for 10 years Dane and Deena are the parents to six awesome kids! In 2021 the Eyerly's are leaving normal life behind to travel full-time throughout the United States in their Double Decker Bus which has been converted to a tiny home. Learn more about The Eyerly's here.

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