How to Train Your Bull Terrier Dog to Not Bite

How to Train Your Bull Terrier Dog to Not Bite
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

To you. he’s the cuddliest and cutest thing you’ve ever seen. He doesn’t argue back and he loves you unconditionally. He’d also never cause you any harm intentionally. However, your Bull Terrier's nature can be extremely protective. Recently, he’s tried to bite at your new partner when he’s come too close. He also occasionally displays signs of aggression and biting behavior at other dogs when they get too close to you. This behavior could be seriously problematic. If he gets into a habit of biting, he could cause someone serious harm. Not only could this result in expensive medical bills, but worst-case scenario, he could have to be put down.

Getting a handle on this behavior is essential. Fortunately, Bull Terrier dogs are, on the whole, well-tempered and easy to train. So, all is not lost. Getting this training right could even save him from serious injury if he gets into a fight with another dog.

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Defining Tasks

Because Bull Terriers are so receptive, you can definitely train this biting behavior out of him. To do so though, you’ll need to take a number of steps to deter him from biting altogether. You’ll also have to react quickly and firmly when you do see any worrying signs. Part of training will also require you to direct his energy elsewhere. With the right incentive, you’ll soon see results.

Bull Terrier puppies are particularly energetic and responsive. This means you could see results in just a couple of weeks. If he’s older and this habit has developed over many years, then you may need a couple of months to fully break the habit. Succeed with this training though, and you won’t have to be on edge when you meet new people and pets. You also won’t have to worry about leaving him with the kids.

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Getting Started

Before you start training, you’ll need to get your hands on a few things. You’ll need some treats or your pooch's favorite food broken into small pieces. Some toys and food puzzles will also be needed for one of the methods. The main component though, will be time. You need to be on hand to monitor and react to your Bull Terrier's behavior as much as possible. 

Bring a positive mindset and a willingness to work alongside your independent pooch. Once you have all of those things, you just need patience and an optimistic attitude. Then, work can begin!

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The Time Out Method

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React

When your Bull Terrier bites or displays any signs of aggression, you need to react quickly. Take him by the collar and lead him out of the room. Shut him in a room for 30 seconds. Make sure there are no toys in there for him to play with. Say nothing as you take him out.

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Release him

Once the 30 seconds are up you can release your dog from the room and allow him to rejoin you. Try not to get him worked up and keep him calm when he’s back with you. Just make sure you keep a close eye on him in case the behavior resurfaces.

3

Increase the sentence

If he bites again, then repeat exactly the same procedure. However, this time leave him in his time out room for an extra 30 seconds. Once the time is up you can bring him back in again. Add 30 seconds onto his sentence each time he bites until he gets the message. He’ll soon catch on.

4

Boundaries

If the biting usually happens around certain individuals or kids, then you need to address how they’re behaving around him. Don’t let them play around his mouth, for example, and make sure they’re giving him enough space.

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Encouragement

Make sure you show him how happy you are when he plays calmly. You can talk in an upbeat voice and give him the occasional treat. This combination of positive and negative reinforcement will swiftly show him what is and isn’t acceptable.

The Positive Encouragement Method

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Exercise

Bull Terriers need lots of exercise. Those that don’t get enough can act out in any number of ways, such as biting. So, make sure he gets a good, long walk each day. You can also throw a tennis ball as you go. The short sprinting will tire him out. This could help release that pent-up energy.

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Tug of war

Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war with him. This is an effective, controlled environment for him to release any aggression. Make sure to end each session on a positive note, otherwise, he’ll soon give up playing.

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Give him space

Make sure he has his own space he can escape to. Bull Terrier puppies can often feel overwhelmed, especially if kids are always trying to play with them. So, if he retreats to his crate or bed, let him have some alone time.

4

Reward

Make sure you reward gentle play. That means giving him the odd treat when you're stroking him and he remains calm. If he associates gentle play with food he’ll have a serious motivation to remain relaxed.

5

Attention

Make sure he gets enough attention each day. If he spends long periods of time on his own then he may get agitated and frustrated. The biting could be attention-seeking behavior. So, dedicate a few minutes each day to giving him the love he needs.

The Do's and Don'ts Method

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Do: seek help if your dog is at all aggressive

Trying to train your Bull Terrier if you really aren't aware of triggers and how to react isn't wise. Seek the help of a professional trainer if needed. Don't make the situation worse.

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Don't: ignore the problem

Your feisty Bull Terrier likes to be included in all things. If he is becoming a biter, don't ignore the issue. Don't let him bite without you letting him know it hurts. Give a vocal "ouch!" to deter him from thinking it is all in play.

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Don't: lose patience

Never strike your pooch. Your dog will begin to fear you and the added anxiety may bring on more biting.

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Do: provide toys and outlets for play

Rather than roughhouse with your dog with your hands and feet, throw a frisbee for fun or teach your dog agility skills. This is a good outlet for extra energy.

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Don't: make quick movements

Moving your hand or arm away quickly may indicate game-on. Instead, fold your hands to let your dog know you are not interested in being bitten.

By James Barra

Published: 12/20/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Zeus

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Bull Terrier

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Three Months

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Good day, we have our bull terrier from 8 weeks. I have trained him to wee outside but when he comes in, he still wee's and poops inside the house. Please help.

July 25, 2022

Zeus's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, First, when you take pup outside are you going with pup and watching them to make sure they are actually peeing and pooping each time and relieving themselves fully instead of just marking a bit? If not, I would start taking pup potty on leash again for a while, tell pup to "Go Potty" while walking pup around slowly, and give a treat if pup goes (hide the treat in your pocket until pup goes so its not a distraction). At this age a lot of puppies will get distracted while outside and not actually finish going all the way, then when they come inside and things are calmer, that's when they go. They need someone to insist they actually go while outside for a while, and keeping them focused on the task using the leash to walk them around, so they don't just stop to dig in a hole, sniff something, or chase a squirrel. If you know that pup is fully pottying while outside, then pup is coming back inside and within an hour having an accident despite having fully gone potty recently, I would actually check with your vet. That can be due to a medical issue like an infection or gi issue. I am not a vet, so I would seek your vet's advice in that case. If pup is going inside, having gone potty fully recently, then peeing small amounts around the home, pup might be marking, especially if you have another male dog or male cat in the home. I would put a belly band on pup, tether pup to yourself with a hands free leash for a while, crating pup when you can't have pup tethered. When pup goes to lift a leg or mark by squatting, I would clap three times to interrupt without touching pup or yelling, then quickly rush pup outside. Tell pup to "Go Potty" then reward with a treat whenever pup does go potty outside, so pup knows that it's not going potty in front of you that's the issue, it's pup going potty inside that's the issue - pup goes potty in front of you outside - then good things happen still. If you suspect marking, I would still have your vet evaluate pup to see if the frequent small pees are incontinence related since it's pretty young to be dealing with that yet. I would rule out a medical cause before assuming it to be marking. If it's due to something like an infection, you don't want to wait to treat that. I am not a vet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 25, 2022

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Sully

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Bull Terrier

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10 Weeks

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I’m really struggling with how to stop sully from biting us and climbing our legs. We’ve tried redirection, giving him a toy instead, we’ve tried ignoring him and putting him in another room, we’ve tried rewarding the good behaviour eg when he plays with a toy instead of biting us. But I’m worried as he bit my 3 year old son yesterday and it bled and bruised. Sully will be going to puppy classes once he’s 12 weeks old but until then I need help as I’m getting upset not knowing what to do. Thanks

June 23, 2022

Sully's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Lauren, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also work on teaching the Out command, and then use the section from the article on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce it when pup doesn't listen, especially around other animals or kids. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. The section on how to use out to deal with pushiness in the Out article, once out is taught, will probably be the most helpful command to use to teach pup to give your kids space. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 23, 2022


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