Helping an English Bulldog Stop Acting Aggressive to a Boyfriend

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 29, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with four dogs, but our primary focus was on Moose (left), a 1-year-old English Bulldog who is becoming reactive to other dogs and humans; no longer allowing a boyfriend of a family member into the home.

We also went over some dog training tips and behavior suggestions to address some other unwanted dog problems from the other three dogs; Charlie, a 4-year-old English Bulldog who is starting to get into fights that Moose initiates, Tonka a 9-month-old American Bulldog and Oscar, a 2-year-old French Bulldog.

The first part of the session was dedicated towards creating some family unity. Oscar lives in a different home but visits almost daily, yet had different rules than the dogs in his guardian’s parents home.

Because there are so many dogs and some of the dog problems involve aggression, it will be important for all of the humans to be on the same page. There were several “gotcha” exclamations throughout the session. But “told you so” interactions are rarely inspiring. Im hoping the family members will all pull together so the supportive energy I saw at times becomes the norm all the time.

Because there was some marking taking place, I went over some rules to help the dogs start identifying as being in a follower roles and how to enforce them. I also went over ways to add structure to petting and ways to reward desired behaviors like sitting to ask for attention (also known as manding).

After going over structure, discipline and ways to reward the dogs in ways that inspire them, I was ready to address Moose’s aggressive behavior to visitors. This human aggression was infrequent, but increasing.

Moose’s primary target of aggression was the boyfriend to one of the family members; barking, growling and lunging at him. Although Moose had met and had positive interactions with him in the past, that had progressed into a territorial aggression where the dog no longer allowed him into the home.

To address this aggressive dog behavior, I showed the guardians how to use a redirect method that incorporated distractions, redirects and positive reinforcement for moving away from the human.

After running through the exercise in the video above, we recreated the situation with the boyfriend again, but this time with his girlfriend handling the leash. She did great, but I cautioned her that she was working with him “warmed up,” ie after practicing it properly with me first. This is easier than what we refer to as a cold scenario.

I made sure to point out that their next attempt at this exercise (which should happen ever time the boyfriend visits) may not go as smoothly. They can help the situation by taking Moose out for a walk about 30 minutes before the boyfriend arrives. Also calling and rewarding him for coming to them each time the dog starts to stare, get stiff or breathe heavily will be in order. The key is to call him over and redirect him BEFORE his energy and intensity rises to action.

They would also be well advised to put the other dogs away when practicing this technique. Not only could the other dogs try to gobble up the treats, the added energy of the additional dogs can be a contributing factor causing Moose to think he needs to act more dominant or territorially aggressive as a bit of a show to the other dogs in the home.

I also went over a Focus exercise that the dogs picked up on pretty quickly. I told the family members Id like to see all of them practicing this with each dog once a day for the next week. The goal should be to get to the 20 second mark on the second movement within 7-10 days. This will give them all a powerful tool to redirect the dogs attention away from things they may react to.

We wrapped things up by shooting a roadmap to success video summarizing all the dog behavior tips and tricks I shared with the family during this at home dog training session.

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