Optional Training?

Posted: October 8th, 2006

Basic obedience and household rules training is NOT optional for the AB’s. As an absolute minimum, you must teach him to reliably respond to commands to come, to lie down, to stay, and to walk at your side, on or off leash and regardless of temptations. You must also teach him to respect your household rules: e.g. is he allowed to get on the furniture? is he allowed to beg at the table? What you allow or forbid is unimportant; but it is *critical* that you, not the dog, make these choices and that you enforce your rules consistently. You must commit yourself to attending and 8 to 10 week series of weekly lessons at a local obedience club or professional trainer and to doing one or two short (5 to 20 minutes) homework sessions per day. As commands are learned, they must be integrated into your daily life by being used whenever appropriate and enforced consistently. Young AB puppies are relatively easy to train: they are eager to please, intelligent, and calm-natured, with a relatively good attention span. Once an AB has learned something, he tends to retain it well. Your cute, sweet little bulldog puppy will grow up to be a large, powerful dog with a highly self-assertive personality, and the determination to finish whatever he starts. If he has grown up respecting you and your rules, then all his physical and mental strengthwill work for you. But if he has grown up without rules and guidance from you, surely he will make his own rules and his physical and mental powers will often act in opposition to your needs and desires. For example: he may tow you down the street as if competing in a sled-dog race; he may grab food off of the table; he may forbid your guests entry to his home. This training cannot be delegated to someone else, e.g. by sending the dog away to “boarding school”, because the relationship of respect and obedience is personal between the dog and the individual who does the training. This is true of all dogs to a greater or lesser degree, but definitly to a very great degree in Bulldogs. While you definitly may want the help of an experienced trainer to teach you how to train your dog, you yourself must actually train your AB. As each lesson is well learned, then the rest of the household (except very young children) must also work with the dog, insisting he obey them as well.


Many of the AB’s that are rescued from Pounds and Shelters show clearly that they have received little or no basic training, neither in obedience nor in household deportment; yet these same dogs respond well to such training by the rescuer or the adopter. It seems likely that a failure to train the dog is a significant cause of American Bulldog abandonment.