Staffordshire bull terriers and American bulldog mixes often are lumped together in a group called bull or bully breeds. It's critical that owners counter the stereotype that these breeds are aggressive or unruly by having a well-trained, well-mannered dog.
To understand how to approach training these dogs, it's crucial to understand their breed characteristics. Both dogs are sweet tempered, intelligent and affectionate, and known for being stubborn at times. Their loyal disposition and generally eager temperament make the Staffordshire bull terrier and the American bulldog fun dogs to train because they love to receive approval from their humans. Yet when training these breeds, it's important to remain consistent and diligent. As with other breeds, all family members need to be on the same page and uphold the same set of rules.
Positive reinforcement has been proven effective and is the preferred method of most dog trainers. Because Staffordshire bull terriers and American bulldog mixes are eager to learn, positive reinforcement is the best choice. Using a clicker or a single word, like “yes” or “good,” you reward your dog with that sound followed by a dog treat anytime he performs a desired behavior. For example, if you ask your dog to sit, as soon as his bottom hits the floor, click and treat to reward the behavior.
One of the most important training exercises with both breeds is socialization. While the Staffordshire bull terrier is generally accepting of strangers, the American Bulldog can be standoffish. These dogs should be exposed to lots of different people as young dogs to get used to meeting strangers. Likewise, both breeds need to be trained to be accepting of other dogs. The best training is to expose the dog to as many other dogs as possible while they are young, ideally between 3 and 16 weeks old.
Staffordshire bull terriers and American bulldog mixes need to receive training every day. So that they can maintain focus and enjoy the process, keep their training to a couple of 10-minute sessions each day. Consistency is critical to a successful training regimen.
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