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.
http://www.ci.westminster.co.us/190_1603.htm

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.

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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.
http://www.ci.westminster.co.us/190_1603.htm

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!

Hello,
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.
S.

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