How to Train Your Bull Terrier Dog to Not Bite

Medium
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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!

The Time Out Method

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Effective
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Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
5
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.
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The Positive Encouragement Method

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Effective
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Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Do's and Don'ts Method

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Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
Don't: lose patience
Never strike your pooch. Your dog will begin to fear you and the added anxiety may bring on more biting.
Step
4
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.
Step
5
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Olive
English bull terrier
9 Months
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Question
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Olive
English bull terrier
9 Months

My very friendly sweet Bull Terrier is jumping and nipping at peoples faces in the dog park and sometimes on walks- She has also nipped me. It seems to come out of no where. I need to stop it before someone gets hurt. Any Suggestions? My last resort will have to be a sound/vibrate training collar

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Susan, Pup may be getting overly aroused and biting as a way to release that form of aggression/energy. I would start by building impulse control with commands like Leave It, Off, Out, Come, and Down. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Check out the Leach method from the article I have linked below. Since pup only seems to be doing the behavior when they are highly aroused, I would practice acting really silly at home - jumping up, doing jumping jacks, making funny noises, wiggling around, waving your arms, ect...then practice the Leave It command and Leash method for jumping when pup tries to jump up or nip. When pup pauses their jumping or nipping, tell pup Sit, then reward. The goal here is for pup's automatic behavior when overly excited to become sitting instead of jumping. Once pup understands this exercise, you may find that recruiting several friends to greet pup places like pup and practicing that often in an excited way, can help pup improve. If not, the next step would be to do the same thing but add in the e-collar correction on pup's working level stimulation, so that pup understands why they are being corrected (don't just correct without prior training!). At that point, the training can be enforced and pup reminded when off leash too. I would avoid the dog park right now until you can train through the behavior in other scenarios and gain reliability. When you are ready for a dog park setting, recruit a couple friends with dogs to have a private playdate where you can enforce your training with those friends around, to make sure pup is really ready, first. Jumping - Leash method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Leave It method for biting: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, be aware that some dogs never do well at the dog park. A dog park is highly arousing, and for some dogs it causes more issues than is worth it, and it's better to find more controlled ways of socializing, like classes, dog walks, dog hikes, canine sports, one on one play dates, or get togethers with friends and their dogs. For some dogs impulse control and managing their arousal level is just more challenging due to personality and genetics. This isn't for sure the case with your dog yet, but just keep it in mind if pup's behavior gets worse instead of better in other ways too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Solo
Bull Terrier
5 Months
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Question
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Solo
Bull Terrier
5 Months

My challenge with my dog, Solo is that he gets very aggressive,violent, and very defensive when he is eating. For example, if we accidentally touch him walking past him while he is eating he starts growling very loudly and aggressive. We try to manage this sort of situation because we do have another dog which is a Yorkie and my sister, 6 yrs old. I just don't want the dog Solo to end up biting them in general or attacking/biting anyone in my family in general. With both puppies in the household we give them equal attention. I take Solo out to walks and does not show that type of aggression with other dogs that he sees when he is on his walk. He only projects that type of aggression when he is eating and when he is being softly stroked while he is eating as well.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elianyth, First, with a puppy that young displaying that type of resource guarding I do recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues to help you in person with this. Look for someone who comes well recommended by their previous clients for work with aggression cases. Five months is very young for that level of food aggression to be present, so that's why I recommend going straight to a trainer to work with you. This type of behavior could crop up in other areas as pup grows if not addressed early, and I would rather have you have help early on than wait. With that said, how have you been interacting with pup while they are eating historically? Does anyone pet, put their hand into the food, remove the food, or generally interact with pup. When you interact with a dog while they are eating you have to do things the dog likes even more than their food to make that interaction something pleasant for them. If you pet, mess with the food, or generally interrupt them that can make them feel defensive and can actually start food aggression or make current food aggression worse., so its important to either feed pup where no one will be bothering them, like in a closed crate, or to do things to make those interactions something pup looks forward to, like dropping a piece of chicken in pup's dish when you approach - so your approach makes things better than they were before instead of tense for pup. With a trainer's help and safety measures like pup on a long back tie leash so they can't lunge toward you, you can practice a protocol like this one. Feed the meal in sections. Feed 1/4 of his meal, practice making him wait before digging in by holding onto the bowl, pulling it back whenever he tries to dive in (without letting go of it first), and calmly saying Wait, then after a few repetitions of this, when he hesitates and doesn't dive in while your hand is still on it, let go of the bowl and say "Okay!" in an excited tone of voice, and let him begin eating as a reward for waiting. As he eats, when he isn't growling, toss treats next to his bowl as you walk past him from a distance far enough away that pup stays relaxed. The treats should be something he likes significantly more than his dinner. Practice this from a few feet away until he begins to look forward to you approaching. As he improves, decrease the distance that you pass from. Expect this to takes weeks of gradual frequent practice, not all in one or two sessions. You have to go at a pace that pup can stay relaxed with. When he finishes the first serving, toss a treat behind him to get him out of the area and pick up the bowl while he is distracted eating the treat. Give the next portion, have him practice waiting again, then do the treat tosses while he eats again. Practice this with the other two portions until he has all of his meal kibble portions at that mealtime. Do this at every meal as often as you can. As he becomes relaxed and begins to like you approaching him during meals, get closer and closer, so that you are eventually placing treats into his bowl while he eats. Ease into this so that he stays relaxed during the process. When pup does great with your presence right by the bowl, the next step is to create a fake arm and use that fake arms to gently touch pup while at the same time dropping something delicious like a piece of chicken. Touch pup only once or twice while doing the treats then leave to avoid over stressing pup. When pup is completely comfortable with the fake arm and their body language always stays relaxed each time you do this, you can give a gentle pet yourself and feed a really great treat with your other hand as you do so. Pet and feed a treat, then give space and go back to tossing the treats to avoid stressing him too much. Expect this progression to take weeks, not hours or days. Do NOT stick your hand in pup's food, take the food away while he is eating, or pet him while he is eating without making the experience fun for him also - via giving better rewards in exchange each time. Messing with a dog while they are eating without the right protocols and rewards to prevent stress around mealtimes, can actually cause food aggression, rather than prevent it. The goal is to build pup's trust with you when it comes to meals - so he doesn't feel the need to guard it, but learns that your approach and picking up the food bowl when empty, results in something even better happening - like a treat or new bone. Only give treats when pup responds well - not while he is growling. If pup is growling still while you are doing all of this, you are probably being too rough or moving too fast, and there needs to be more space between you and pup while practicing at that point in the training. Because of the risks involve in working on resource guarding, I do highly recommend working with a professional trainer on this, instead of doing it alone. It's very important to read pup's body language correctly, go at the right pace for pup, and take precautions like the back tie leash and fake arm to ensure safety. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ja
Bull Terrier
3 Years
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Question
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Ja
Bull Terrier
3 Years

Attacks when I comes to feeding and gets real stubborn and won’t come out of his outside pen no matter the weather and will attack you if you try to make him

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. Dog aggression is a very complex issue, and can have any number of causes. Because of this, I am including a link to a wonderful article for you to read that will give you insight and solutions. It is way too much to include in this box for the answer. So I hope you find the article helpful. https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-behavior-training/ask-dr-debra-canine-aggression/

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Question
Tessa
Bull Terrier
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Tessa
Bull Terrier
6 Months

She nips and bites without warning! Its getting to a point where we cant even sit down without a bite

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Blanca
Bull Terrier
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Blanca
Bull Terrier
3 Months

I can’t be around her without her trying to bite. I carry her and she even snaps at my face.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is some information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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