Far from their dogfighting past, English Bulldogs are now known for their affectionate and laidback personality. But as with any dog breed, they are still susceptible to develop forms of aggression. There was a point when my English Bulldog keeps attacking me for no reason. But after a consultation with the vet, I was told that it could be due to aggression, dominance, poor socialization, or fear.
Below, I discussed these possible reasons and what you need to do to curb them.
Why does my English Bulldog keep attacking me?
Dogs are pack beings, so they need to establish a hierarchy. This lingers even on domesticated canines.
If your English Bulldog keeps on attacking or taunting you, it might be imposing its dominance to be the alpha of the pack. This is a sign that your dog doesn’t see you as the leader.
An English Bulldog trying to be dominant will push you around. Your dog will growl, bite, and snap when it feels challenged.
Many dog owners mistake dominance with aggression. The truth is that these are two different problems, but both require attention.
Dominance-triggered aggression isn’t the same as other forms of aggression, which I discussed below. It’s harder to train an English Bulldog off this problem than other causes of aggression.
Aggressive behavior in English Bulldogs will attack humans, even their owners. Take note that aggression comes in different types:
- Territorial. This occurs when the Bulldog feels that a person is a threat to their home. It can happen even if the person is their owner.
- Possessive. Possessive aggression occurs when a person tries to retrieve or go near the dog’s food, toys, treats, and similar valuables.
- Protective. Dogs are quite protective of their pack. If they see their owners as a threat to other people they value, aggression will occur.
- Defensive. This is related to the fight or flight response of your English Bulldog. Some Bulldogs will retreat in the face of danger. However, others will be in defensive mode, which will lead to physical attacks.
- Social. Failing to socialize your English Bulldog properly will lead to social aggression. This can happen when the dog is exposed to other animals or people.
- Sex-related. Sexual aggression can happen between dogs when they are vying for a female dog’s attention. This can be easily avoided by spaying or neutering your English Bulldog.
- Fear. English Bulldogs that aren’t properly raised will become fearful. With this, their first response is to attack when they are cornered. This can happen even if you’re just approaching your English Bulldog calmly.
- Redirected aggression. In the case of redirected aggression, your English Bulldog doesn’t really intend to attack you. It just happened that you’re nearer than the actual target of the hostility.
- Frustration. If your English Bulldog can’t act out on a stimulus, it will become frustrated. It can end up attacking and hurting you. Take note that this happens a lot when a Bulldog is leashed and can’t chase after a moving stimulus.
- Predatory. This cause of aggression isn’t very prevalent among English Bulldogs since they no longer have an intense prey drive. Still, some may attack their owners out of the blue because of their prey instincts.
3. Learned behavior
English Bulldogs may not be the smartest bunch in the dog kingdom, but they can easily learn negative behavior. It’s possible that attacking you elicits a response your dog likes.
For example, if your dog attacks you and you start playtime, the pooch will keep doing it in the future. The same goes if you respond with a reward like petting, hugs, or even treats.
Learned behavior can be challenging to correct, so you should be careful about how you handle your dog’s bad behavior. Saying a firm ‘no!’ and putting the dog on time-out will help teach the concept of consequence.
4. Injury or illness
Aside from the behavioral aspect, an English Bulldog may attack its owner if the canine suffers from a health problem. Any dog that’s in pain or great discomfort can snap even on the people they trust.
If your Bulldog has never shown aggression before, you should consider taking it to the vet. Your pet might be in pain and need immediate veterinary care.
English Bulldogs are prone to hip dysplasia, joint problems, bone fractures, and lacerations. All of these can trigger unreasonable aggression.
Aside from physical pain, your English Bulldog might be experiencing cognitive decline. This is prevalent on senior dogs, much like how old people succumb to dementia.
A canine with cognitive dysfunction will exhibit all sorts of unlikely behavior. The goal here is to manage the condition to give your Bulldog a good quality of life.
5. Traumatic experiences
If you’ve adopted a rescue English Bulldog, you have to be very patient. It can keep attacking you out of the blue if a certain situation reminds the dog of a traumatic experience.
The challenge with rescue dogs is that it’s not always known where they come from or what they’ve been through. Many arrive in shelters with full-on aggression.
With this, rescue canines, Bulldog or not, require more work and a longer adjustment period than simply rehoming a well-raised doggo.
It may take months or years to earn the trust of an English Bulldog that’s been maltreated by its previous owners. Nevertheless, you can always work with a dog trainer to help the dog overcome its aggression.
How to stop my English Bulldog from attacking me?
While English Bulldog attacks can be worrying, there are ways to curb them. The following are some of the things you can do:
✔️Know the root cause
The first thing you should do is analyze the situation. Ask yourself, what’s causing my Bulldog to attack me? Your Bulldog might be scared, frustrated, or angry toward another person or animal. The answer to this will help you address the behavior properly.
Just remember that attacking back or using violence should never be a solution. Always stretch your patience and understand that it’s not your dog’s fault why it’s acting that way.
✔️Start with socialization
The next step is to socialize your English Bulldog. While this breed is affectionate and laidback, they still need to be desensitized to various stimuli.
Such socialization will prevent aggressive tendencies or even attacking you. Start at home by introducing new sounds, smells, and textures. You should also desensitize your Bulldog to the presence of other animals and humans.
Take note that proper socialization doesn’t happen overnight. You have to take it slowly, especially if your Bulldog tends to attack you when it’s overwhelmed.
✔️Teach basic obedience
Basic obedience will go a long way for Bulldogs that attack their owners and other people. You should teach your dog basic commands like stop, stay, leave it, sit, and name recall. This will help you distract the dog whenever it’s about to attack you.
When it comes to Bulldogs, you should keep the training sessions short. Also, you’ll see better results when you use positive reinforcement. As highly food-driven dogs, English Bulldogs will respond better to commands when they are given food rewards.
✔️Control the dog’s resources
For English Bulldogs imposing their dominance, one way to show that you’re the alpha is by controlling their sources.
You should be the one to decide when playtime starts and ends. Also, you should collect all your dog’s toys after playing.
Feeding your dog will also establish your position in the pack. Over time, your English Bulldog will realize that you are his master.
✔️Never reward bad behavior
Lastly, never reward bad behavior. Many of us are guilty of giving an improper response whenever our dogs show signs of aggression.
Instead of pulling your hands away when your dog attacks you, just yelp loudly and say a firm ‘no’. This will teach your dog that you’re hurt and that the behavior isn’t tolerated.
In this scenario, pulling away your arm will push the dog to attack you more since it sees you as a target or prey.
Still, it doesn’t mean you’re going to punish your dog for behaving negatively. Again, training and positive reinforcement are the key here.
My English Bulldog keeps attacking me before, but after pointing out the cause, I was able to train him out of it. Take note that this behavior is more complex than simple aggression. Dog owners have to understand their pets first so that they can use the right approach. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian or dog trainer.