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So, you are ready to train your English bulldog to walk on a lead. Maybe you recently purchased a puppy and need to know when and how to begin. Or maybe you rescued an adult bulldog that never received proper training. Regardless of your circumstance, you may have questions about the process. Here are some of the most common questions about lead training and their answers. Good luck, and happy training!
Your dog should get used to leashes early on when he is more impressionable and easier to train. For English bulldogs, this should begin when your dog is about eight weeks old. Of course, this doesn’t mean taking your dog on a mile-long walk; it means introducing him to a collar and lead. To do this, have your dog wear his harness around the house, and then slowly introduce the lead while indoors. Once he is used to it, go on short walks in the yard or outside. Start small and move on from there.
Collars may by useful for showing off your dog’s bling, but that’s about it. For bulldogs, harnesses are hands down the better choice. This is for several reasons: One, bulldogs have enough breathing issues as it is, and collars put more stress on their windpipes, making walks even more difficult. Two, because of a bulldog’s neck folds, squeezing out of a regular collar is much easier. Harnesses will not come off when your dog tries to back out of them, and they let you snap a lead without affecting sensitive areas like the neck. This will allow you to train your dog more gently and more effectively.
Ah yes, the dreaded pull. You go outside to walk your dog, and within seconds you realize he’s walking you! Training your dog not to pull on walks will take a lot of patience, but it can be done. The trick is to make sure your dog knows that he can only move forward when the leash is slack. So, when your dog pulls, stop moving and proceed only after he stops with you. Reward the correct behavior with treats or praise. It will likely take your many tries to master this, but eventually he will stop. Be patient!
Unfortunately, because of the bulldog’s uniquely stubborn temperament and exercise intolerance, this happens a lot. While the behavior can be frustrating, there are techniques to get him going again. First, take your dog to the vet and make sure it isn’t caused by a health issue like arthritis. If it isn’t, tackle the behavior. Try walking around your dog and then moving forward. When your dog moves, praise him and give him treats. You can also use treats as an incentive; if your dog “puts on the breaks” during a walk, place a treat in front of his face and give it to him when he moves forward. If these techniques don’t work, try walking your dog with other dogs that can motivate yours to follow. No matter what you choose, remember to be patient and persistent, and never quit.
If your dog exhibits dominant behaviors while on a lead, like walking in front of you, not listening to your commands, or going in and out of doors before you, then you have your work cut out for you. That’s because if your dog is exhibiting dominance, you are not in charge, and you will have to work to regain control. To do this, you must change your behavior. Yes, you – not your dog – must change. This includes calming any nervous or anxious energy you have while around your dog, setting rules and remaining consistent with them, and mastering the walk, meaning you lead your dog and not the other way around.
Remember that dogs want peace in their packs. If they sense that you’re not a leader, they will take over that leadership position for the good of the pack. Dogs are more than happy, though, to be led by strong and confident humans. So don’t think that by taking control you are abusing your dog. Quite the contrary – dogs are much happier when they know their positions and roles. So take a deep breath, get some confidence, and handle your dog with a calm but firm demeanor.
If you are still having difficulties leash training your dog, try obedience classes. It also helps to talk to other dog owners and your vet about what has worked for them. No matter what, the same advice remains: Be patient, be consistent, remain in charge, and don’t quit. Training a stubborn bulldog may take a while, but it can be done. Just keep going!