English Bulldogs are powerhouses. Their low center of gravity and solid build make them easily as strong as a big dog, if not stronger. I’ve had to experience walking a Bully that was not leash trained – it’s a great way to pull a rib out of place, mess up your shoulder, or even end up falling. It is not a great a way to have fun.
If you have an English Bulldog that does not have nice leash manners, chances are, you avoid going on walks, which isn’t healthy for either of you. Instead, try these five tips to prevent your English Bulldog from pulling on the leash so you can enjoy your walks again.
#1 – Start Young
Many people make the mistake of not starting leash training right away. But the sooner you instill those good leash manners in your English Bulldog, the better. This includes puppies that are just eight weeks old puppy. Why wait until he is fully-grown and stronger than you, when you can reinforce those good habits while your Bully is small?
#2 – Teach Self-Control
English Bulldogs definitely have a mind of their own, which is part of the reason they end up pulling you everywhere. Teaching self-control can help keep your Bully from doing what he wants. “Stay,” “Go To Bed” (mat-stay behavior), sitting for a toy/food/petting, etc., are all good ways to work on self-control.
#3 – Practice Attention
Another reason your English Bulldog pulls is because he finds the rest of the world more interesting than you. He wants to explore everything. On-leash, this can lead to you being pulled in twenty different directions – not fun! A key to stopping these behaviors is to keep your Bully focused on you during a walk. Working on looking at you when you say his name, offering eye contact without a cue, “Leave It,” and “Drop” are important to leash training.
#4 – Reward Correct Position
Whenever your English Bulldog is calmly walking in heel position – by your side with a loose leash – be sure you reward him. You can even turn this into a game by trying to move away from your dog and seeing if he stays with you off-leash in your house or in your backyard. Start off easy and then increase difficulty (quicker pace, tighter turns) as your Bully learns the game. Rewards can be anything he likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Bully likes it, it’s a reward. Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that spot, the more he will do it. It’s as simple as that!
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
As mentioned, dogs do what gets reinforced, so make sure your English Bulldog is not being rewarded for pulling. If your Bully pulls on the leash and gets what he wants (to sniff that bush, to greet that person, to play with that dog), then he will continue to do it and it will get worse. So, if you feel your Bully start to pull you in one direction, plant your feet and don’t move, waiting until he returns to you. You can also turn and walk the opposite direction. Once he is walking next to you nicely, you can turn back and go the way he wanted to in the first place. This teaches your Bully that if he wants to go somewhere, he has to keep that leash loose. I find this method to work really well because dogs get the rules very quickly.