Bulldogs don’t usually need to impress with their intelligence because they already have supermodel status. They have magazine cover appeal with bad-ass written all over them! With their extraordinary face, and lovably thick body, a Bully can melt the hearts of even the toughest cynics.
But, can a dog that's known for beef-cake brawn also display impressive brain power? And, how can we get the most out of their intellect?
Although most of the stereotypical aggressive tendencies have been bred out of Bulldogs, they are still considered a mostly dominant breed that can be adrenaline junkies.
Ever heard of Otto the skateboarding Bulldog? He holds the world record for the longest “human tunnel” ever completed. Whether it's skateboards, snowboards, or skimboards Bullies love to ride vessels that other breeds of dogs simply can't. While this is highly entertaining, it also shows an impressive level of intelligence, instinct, and trainability.
If you have a Bulldog, you most likely recognize that they are a pretty smart breed and are very teachable...when they are motivated. We also know that they can be highly stubborn and indifferent. Many times this is mischaracterized as a lack of intelligence, which is a BIG mistake. You Bully just wants what they want when they want it, and will mentally run circles around you if you underestimate them!
The key to creating a healthy balance of intelligence, charm, and acceptable social behavior is proper training and fruitful communication.
To fully nurture a Bulldog’s brain, you have to start with a healthy relationship between the two of you. Proper training bridges a gap in communication, so they are not left wondering what you expect from them. Your goal is a friendship that allows for both mistakes and forgiveness.
One of the most important things your Bulldog needs to know is the proper sound of his/her name. Nicknames are fun, but they’re confusing as hell for a dog. Names are too often associated with unwanted behavior….not unlike some human relationships. Your Bulldog's name, when spoken properly, should immediately get their attention. Be consistent here.
This simple exercise, done several (8-10) times a day, can create successful communication between you and your Bulldog:
1. With your Bulldog nearby, call their name (no nicknames!)
2. Allow your Bulldog to respond. (If they do not, repeat Step 1 after about 15 seconds)
3. When your Bulldog responds, communication has begun
4. Now give the desired command (come, sit, etc.)
5. When your dog completes the command, immediately reward with praise, a hug, and maybe even a bulldog-friendly treat
We know, this is very basic and not breaking much new ground. But, this pathway of behavior rewards good with good — a simple, beautiful concept. Like anyone else, your Bully needs to understand and be constantly reminded of what positivity means. It’s our job to teach them. Fortunately, once mastered it’s a very fun job!
Your Bulldog will soon associate you (and their proper name) with positivity, fun, and love. This will create a desire for more and more of each of these feelings, providing them motivation to learn more and perform for you.
Your Bully’s potential is dependent on your ability to properly train and communicate with them and your willingness to guide them through the world.
Once you have created this bond, go introduce them to literally everything! Expose them to other dogs, puppies, people- to parking lots, beaches, & trails- everything is a learning experience for them and helps develop their psyche. This will help them overcome any anxiety they may have and build confidence, at the same time. Exercise gets those brain neurons firing too, so get your buddy out walking and moving.
Bulldogs are always learning and it's never too late to start training them. A well-trained Bulldog is also a safe Bulldog, as they will have less tendency to run off/away, destructively chew, and be aggressive to other dogs and people.
We are very fortunate to have Bulldogs in our lives. Never take this for granted, and work hard to create an unbreakable bond with your Bully. Once this is achieved, both of your lives will be immeasurable improved and you will unlock their full potential!