22 answers

Just Got American Bulldog Pup, HELP! Did I Make a Mistake?

After a bunch of research, we just got an american bulldog puppy, thinking the characteristics would suit our family's needs as a new family member. Now I am reading and hearing things I didn't before. Like how they need obidience training which is fine. They are animal aggressive. Very strong and have a strong bite. Not as bad as a pit bull, but still. Things like that. I have a 5 year old who is already scared of her at times because she gets very rowdy. This dog does not need to sense her unsure feelings. I want a dog to trust around my children. Does anyone own this breed or have any experience with it? The puppy is so sweet right now, but I don't want to make a mistake with this breed and my children. I don't know what to do? Any advice please!!!!!

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So What Happened?™

Well, ya'll sure are a positive group! Thank you and
I do feel better now. We know that training is the key, and socialization. Since we are new to the area, if anyone knows of a good dog park, please let me know. We are in the Westminster area. Thank you again!

Featured Answers

This is a fab dog park and really popular on weekends.

Based on what I've read, this breed sounds fine for a family as long as you are willing to put forth the effort to socialize the dog with people as well as other animals (dog parks? neighborhood walks, etc). Dog training is generally 'mandatory' with all dog breeds anyhow - in my experience. I would start early (6 mos old?), involve the children, and continue to do a lot of reading - maybe some good training books from the library? Have the children feed the dog - take his food away then put it back to show they are 'alpha' - stuff like that. Take toys away from him, then give them back. 'play dates' with friends' dogs.

More Answers

Hi S.
American Bulldogs can be very gentle and loving dogs. You may want to take the puppy to obedience classes and also work with the kids on gentle play. One thing I'd like to stress tho is these dogs as well as some other breeds can become very protective of your family and of one person in particular in the family. As your dog bonds with the family watch your children's friends when they come over. The dog may perceive rough housing as a threat and may jump in to protect. I also have a friend who while dating her man became very bonded with his dog. One night while they were being playful, tickling and wrestling the dog turned on his owner to defend her because her squealing made the dog think she was being hurt. The dog bared his teeth and got in between them. She had to reassure the dog that everything was ok. Her man was shocked by the dogs behavior but glad because he knew the dog would always protect her from harm.

Welcome to Colorado, I hope you are loving it as much as I am. We have lived all over the country and this is hands down the best place we have ever lived. We have lived here 10 years and I hope to be here until the end of my days :)

Now about your pup. I don't believe you have made a mistake at all, however you have clearly got additional work on your hands. All pups need training, the sooner the better. They are just like your little ones, lots of hard work, time, and consistency will be required but the benefits are wonderful.

Obviously you already know that when you're raising children along side of pups you must be extremely diligent to protect all of them from each other and monitor all of their time together. Eventually, when both the children and the puppy have grown out of their respective stages you will have provided a wonderful companion and friend for everyone. Hang in there and have everyone working toward the same goal and using the same methods of reward so the pup doesn't get confused. I know this sounds simple but don't be fooled it's a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it.

This is a fab dog park and really popular on weekends.

Like children, breeds of dogs are different. They all have good and not-so-good qualities, and how you understand and meet their needs makes a difference in how good they become as adult dogs. I suggest that you go online and find an American Bulldog organization (there an organization somewhere for nearly every breed); connect with them and pick their brains. In addition, begin now to look locally (wherever you are in Colorado) for help and advice from a professional dog trainer who is familiar with the breed. Dog trainers train the dog's people, not just the dog - and that's very useful! There isn't a breed of dog that is totally wonderful; even golden retrievers and labs, who are considered so smart and family-friendly, can have behavior problems. By the way, every pup is rowdy; it's part of puppyhood. Consider your new pup a new child (!), and invest time and energy in learning how to educate Miss or Mr. Bulldog and yourself. You won't be sorry. My husband and I have raised children, and we have also raised eight puppies for Canine Companions for Independence, and I think that raising pups is similar in very many ways to raising children!

Hi S.-

This should be fine, but training will be necessary for you to enjoy your dog as he/she grows. The Humane Society or Denver Dumb Friends League has some great and affordable programs--it's going to be important that you are the alpha to this dog and they can help you with positive training. Best of luck!

I don't know anything about bulldogs. But, if you should decide to change out your pup for a different breed. You can't go wrong with an Australian Shepherd. If you prefer a small one, they do have toy size & mini size in the aussies. The aussie is the best family dog, they are very versitle to your lifestyle, & are wonderful with kids of all ages.

Best of luck to you.

Be sure to socialize your puppy with both kids and other dogs. This is important for any breed. Good luck!

Every animal is different within a breed too. The way you train and interact (and especially teach your kids to interact) with the dog is critical too. If you did a bunch of research, there must have been many strong reasons why you went with the breed. I'd highly recommend calling the breed rescue line as well as talking with some breeders. They will be able to give you real insights to the dogs and some suggestions. Training is something that will make any dog a better dog. There is a book "Childproofing your Dog" that we read when we started having kids.

I have a lab mix that is dog aggressive, but she is the sweetest dog around people. It definitely is stressful to have a dog aggressive dog though, but we've made it work. Luckily, she is not aggressive to our other dog. They are now 15 and 16.

Give your kids suggestions on what to do when the dog gets rowdy - like totally ignoring it or going in another room. Your 5 year old could get nervous based on any rowdy dog, so don't let that be your factor. Don't play tug of war with it or other win/lose games. Definitely instill the dogs place in the home and in the pack. Puppies are stressful, but they are not puppies forever.

Good luck.

I think any breed can be trained to be good around children, some may take more training than others. I've been reading some books on dog behavior which I'd highly recommend Cesar's Way by Cesar Milan and The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell. They give a good foundation for obedience training. We humans need just as much if not more training than our puppies! And kids need training too, help them understand what is ok and what is not okay around your dog. But even after your puppy is trained, I would still be really careful to keep an eye on your children and dog when they are together. Most people say to never leave them alone together, but that's hard to do. I know I don't always have my eye on my son 24-7, but I still try because you never know what could happen.

Obedience training is important for any breed of dog, but especially for one that tends toward high energy and where there are small children. Also educate yourself on doggy socialization. Make sure that she know who is top dog (you and the other humans in the house). When she misbehaves, hold her snout (gently) and stare her in the eyes from above - this says "I'm the boss and you're out of line."

There is as much variation within a dog breed as there is between breeds. Not all bull dogs (bit bull, English bull, etc) are mean and agressive. In fact I heard a stat a few years ago that said more people are bitten by cocker spaniels than by pit bulls. They key is teaching the dog who's in charge and teaching your kids how to treat an animal.

Good luck!

DOG Park Dog Park Dog Park!!! This will get him socialized. And of course obedience training. The more contact with nice people and dogs, the better.

No offense, but I thought you said you researched this dog prior to buying it.

The problem with dogs and children is that dogs have a tendency to see the child *Who is similar to their size* as a challenge to their dominance. ESPECIALLY at eye level.

In choosing a dog you need to be really careful about the moods of the dogs. Some dogs are more apt to snap or turn on a family member than others.

I would find a good home for this dog, and find one better suited to your family. Please research this time.

I have a cousin who has two of them from the same litter. They had a baby in February 2008 and the dogs were very gentle around the baby. The would even come up and give him "kisses". He is a year and a half now and they are still very good around him. I think with proper training and giving them enough attention you should be fine. Of course all dogs are different though so I'd go with your gut instinct.

A friend has a bulldog & she's the sweetest girl! She eats everything though, beware! Now that you've gotten her, you need to get her into training ASAP-you will create the dog she will become. Keep a close eye on them when they're together until you feels she's trained well enough. She's not hurting, just being a puppy.
My Shephard has a strong bite too, but her first owner (pound puppy) trained her to have a soft mouth. All you have to do w/her when she gets too rough is yell "ow" & she stops immediately & waits until you give her the go-ahead to play more. It's all in the training.


I urge you, URGE you, to find a new home for that dog. You chose the wrong breed for your daughter, and very likely your other children as well. American bull dogs are exactly what you've researched them out to be. Great family dogs, not so good with other animals, all that. And yes, ALL dogs read and feel the emotions from humans, in particular the ones they are closest to. Take that dog to obedience training and find it a new home. Pick a less aggressive breed for a home with children. I'm not saying that it WILL be aggressive with YOUR children, but the chances are greater, and even greater than that with OTHER people's children in your home for playdates, etc.


Based on what I've read, this breed sounds fine for a family as long as you are willing to put forth the effort to socialize the dog with people as well as other animals (dog parks? neighborhood walks, etc). Dog training is generally 'mandatory' with all dog breeds anyhow - in my experience. I would start early (6 mos old?), involve the children, and continue to do a lot of reading - maybe some good training books from the library? Have the children feed the dog - take his food away then put it back to show they are 'alpha' - stuff like that. Take toys away from him, then give them back. 'play dates' with friends' dogs.

Like the others have said - training is key. Learn how to pin your dog and make sure that you are the one in charge.
Aside from that, don't ever leave your dog alone with your children - no matter what the breed is. Even the best trained dogs can injure a child. I have 2 big dogs and I still worry even when I'm there with them - just because it takes only a second for something to happen. Plus I know a couple people with pretty good scars on their faces from dog bites. Makes me a little more paranoid...
I think any dog can be a good family dog as long as you keep up with the training. If the bulldog fits your family (and you did the research) then it will probably be a good fit.

Not a bad choice for a dog. My brother had one with his family and she became the beloved family pet. Actually his daughter was inseparable with the dog. Sassy did need some training but once she was trained she was a beautiful lifelong family member, very gentle and loving with the kids and protective of her family. My niece would actually lay on her like a pillow to watch movies when she was little. Just remember that your dog is still a puppy and all puppies are hyper and a bit aggressive, she just needs some training.

I grew up with a boarding kennel that my parents own down in Pueblo. I was around a ton of animals from day one. I owned a pitbull (his parents were left in the kennel never picked up by owners and she had pups) he was the sweetest best dog ever and NEVER had any aggresion problems, or social problems with other dogs. I can tell you in the kennel the sweetest dogs always tended to be the american bull dogs and the pits. They REALLY are good dogs, it's all in how you raise them (which is the same for ALL dogs). It is very important to socialize dogs, especially when they are pups, get them around as many other dogs as possible as frequently as you can. Also he needs to know that the 'people' are the boss! Most people don't, but it is important to teach your kids to tell the dog what to do, let your little ones be a little too rough with him, and get after him if he tries to snap or anything like that. Our philoshy is that if the dog gets tired of the kids rough housing with him, then he can go outside (or some other safe place) in order to get away from the kids if they've had enough... this way the dog doesn't get too upset without having the opportunity to chill out. My dad even (carfully) had us as kids take things like bones or treats from the dogs and got after them if they growled or anything... and I do the same with my kids. The reason for this is that at some point if you have little kids, you may have a baby crawl over and pull an ear or take a bone, the baby doesn't know any better, but the dog needs to know that it is still not ok to bite, growl, etc.
On a side note. My dad (who has run the kennel for 22 years) loves the Dog Whisperer. Cesar something? He has a show and he probably has books too, that might be a good thing to watch as a family for some good info. I'm sure you can find great tips on dog training on the web too.
Good luck on your pup.. don't give up on him he will be wonderful. I just lost my pit a couple of years ago after 12+ years :( He was a most wonderful pup!!

I used to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary and they always had Bulldogs. In addition to being good pets, they used the dogs as serrogate companions for their orphan tigers and bears because the Bulldogs were so tough and so tolerant. All of their Bulldogs were incredibly sweet and mellow, though a little stinky.

The center has some amazing pictures of the tiger cubs sound asleep wrapped up in a pile of bulldogs. 8- )

My uncle had an English Bull, who was a wonderful dog, even around children. All puppies tend to be a bit rowdy, and need to be taught what the limits are and that you are the alpha in the pack. Have fun with your new dog!

Looks like you've got alot of feedback already, but something I'd add, is that you should bring your children to obedience training w/ you, especially your daughter, so she can learn how to be confident w/ the dog. The training classes are really for the humans to learn to train the dogs...the dog learns at home through repetition of the the training you've learned in class. Everyone in the family should have the knowledge of how to deal w/ the dog. We have a four month old cattledog puppy who bites at hands constantly...I can't wait for this to be over...but he is getting his adult teeth in now...so biting is actually normal since his teeth and gums are looking for some relief.

Keep in mind that most puppies are rambunctious and playful in a very physical way, and usually calm down w/in the first 2 years. In the wild the littermates and mother teach the pup when it has gone 'too far' (biting, and being generally obnoxious) and you should learn some of these techniques in obedience class. Also, getting your puppy around other dogs will benefit him in the same way.

If you feel that things are not working out, do the dog a favor and find it a new home sooner than later...it will be much easier for you as more people are interested in puppies, and easier for the dog to adjust and bond w/ it's new family at a young age.

Good luck!!!

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