Training any dog, no matter the age takes patience and discipline for both you and your dog. While you may think you need to wait until they are older to train them, it is actually better for your dog to start training as early as 6-8 weeks.
The earlier you introduce a schedule and regular routines, the easier it will be for you as they grow and adapt to normal life changes. The first year can be difficult and frustrating, but understand that you are building a foundation for the behavior you desire for the rest of their life.
How to Train an American Bulldog? You will need to stay calm and show no aggression as the bulldog will mimic you or become defensive.
- Start by clearly saying the command you wish to teach.
- Demonstrate the command, or show your dog how. For example, if you are teaching your bulldog to sit, gently push down on his behind while holding your arm underneath his front legs until they are in a sitting position.
- Give positive reinforcements such as a treat.
- Repeat this process a few times, or until your American bulldog looses interest.
- This may take a few training sessions. Be patient and calm with your American bulldog while teaching commands.
We will discuss commands they should be able to learn based on age and when to start incorporating more training and socialization.
Training By Stages
When training your American bulldog, you have to be prepared to teach them in stages. Attempting to train them on several skills all at once will be too much for the dog to learn and will only result in you and them becoming very frustrated.
For your dog to successfully learn skills well and for maximum retention, you have to space out their training through their first year.
You want to start with simple things and slowly progress to harder, more complex ideas and tricks.
Potty Training your American Bulldog Puppy
A good place to start training is obviously potty training during this early stage for your American Bulldog. Best practices would be:
- Expect to take an American bulldog to the potty every 15-30 mins for the first few weeks until they start getting control of their bladder.
- Remember to be patient during this time.
- Try to keep them on hard surfaces if possible while indoors to make cleaning any accidents up easy.
- It will take a few weeks for an American bulldog puppy to pick up the habit. But continue to demonstrate positive reinforcement to encourage proper behavior while the puppy gets a hang of this new routine and learns how to control their bladder.
Also be mindful that during this infancy stage, the American bulldog puppy will also need to be fed more frequently due to rapid growth and exertion of energy. This is normal to expect at this time of their life.
As soon as you bring your American Bulldog home, you need to create a routine that will help them learn what their days will look like. If your puppy knows how their day will go, they can prepare for things and learn how to wait for food and bathroom breaks.
You will need to be completely focused on this routine. Try not to plan any trips or big events during this time.
While you may have different schedules every day, try to keep it consistent as much as you can. Try to wake up around the same time and go to bed around the same time so everything in between can be consistent as well.
A daily schedule for an American bulldog puppy will look something like this:
- 7-8 am – Wake up, potty, eat breakfast
- 9-11am – Playtime/naptime/potty breaks every 30 mins
- 11 am-1 pm – Food (if needed for smaller bellies), naptime/potty breaks every 30 mins
- 1-5 pm – Playtime/potty breaks/crate training for 10 mins at a time
- 5-6pm – Dinner/potty
- 6-10pm – calm downtime/snuggles/potty breaks/bedtime
Of course, your schedule may look a bit different, but the biggest things you need to pay attention to are that mealtimes, playtimes, and bedtimes are as regular as possible. This will help your dog eat and sleep well for the rest of their lives when starting this routine early.
Once your puppy is vaccinated, you can start including other sorts of training into their daily routine. You, of course, want to start simple and work your way into harder things.
As you begin to train your puppy, keep in mind that they are very young and their energy levels are high for short periods of time, they will get tired quickly. You also need to remember that they do not know how to act in any situation, and it is your job to teach them; this is why you are training them.
As early as you can, find 4-5 friends that have small dogs or puppies that you can regularly get together with, so your dog can learn how to act around other animals. Your dog will learn better social skills when they are commonly around the same few animals rather than random interactions.
Early socialization will help your dogs learn that other animals and humans are generally not a threat.
It will be easier to show your puppy this, at this young stage, when they are still learning and exploring their environment. American bulldogs are large and strong, so it is important to teach them not to jump on or lunge at other people and animals.
You can easily train other dogs’ behaviors when you are comfortable with the owner and the other dog yourself. This will also allow you to ensure the dogs that you pick will treat your dog well rather than fearing aggression issues.
When owners and new friends are calm, your puppy will be in a better state to learn and explore.
Once your dog understands how to act around their friends, they shouldn’t have any problem socializing with any other dogs or people. This will create such a good atmosphere for you and others whenever you come in contact with other animals.
American bulldogs need consistent cleaning. Due to the regularity that this needs to happen, you need to get your dog used to grooming. You can simply get them used to you touching their face and petting gently in the early ages.
Once they are used to that, add in a wet towel or paper towel and slowly start the grooming process. After a few weeks, it should be normal for them, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
American bulldogs are easier to clean than English bulldogs because they have less wrinkles and more flexibility to clean themselves. For a quick tutorial on grooming, you can check out our YouTube video where I demonstrate a full grooming of our English bulldog, Daisy.
Once your puppy hits six months of age, they should know how to play well with other dogs, have significantly fewer potty accidents, and eat and sleep on a regular schedule.
If your puppy isn’t at this stage yet, just remember that they are still young, and it may take another month or so for them to learn.
You can begin teaching your dog basic commands once they hit six months or earlier if you feel like they are ready for it. Some basic commands to start teaching your dog are:
- Leash training
- Lay Down
- Drop it
You want to use positive reinforcements rather than negative or discipline. Start the training by giving treats every time your dog gets into the position you are asking for, even if it’s you doing it for them.
Over time, they should start understanding what you want, and after a few weeks, you can remove the treats, and they won’t look for them anymore.
By one year, your dog should be socialized around other pets and people and accidents should be almost nonexistent.
If you are having issues with your dog wanting to learn or don’t seem to listen to you, you could look into training classes or schools specializing in breed-specific training.
You want the best opportunities for your dog to learn appropriate behavior, and if a training school achieves this, you shouldn’t overlook the idea. There are day school options if you want your dog to come home at night, but this requires some work from you with keeping a very rigid schedule.
No matter how your American bulldog is trained, as long as they are well-loved and behave appropriately in every setting, you have done well as an owner.
Dogs will always have moments of craziness, but for the most part, a well-trained dog will be cool, calm, and collected.
Training your American bulldog can seem like a daunting task, and while it is time-consuming, it is worth the work. The confidence you will have in your dog with their ability to act appropriately in different situations is priceless.
Training your dog for good behaviors is not only for you; this also keeps them, other animals and people safe as well.
We have more tips and tricks for training bulldogs. A good owner loves their American bulldog enough to teach them how to behave at home and around others.