Aggressive Behavior in an American Bulldog

Bulldogs can be loyal family pets.
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People who have seen the movie, "Homeward Bound" fall in love with the charming American bulldog that stars in the film. The breed is loyal and bond closely with their families. American bulldogs get along with other dogs and are good with children and other animals, but these strong, powerful pooches can be stubborn.

Aggressive Behaviors

Aggression is a very complicated subject, whether you're talking about dogs, people or other animals. Behaviors can be interpreted as aggressive if they're threatening or potentially harmful. With dogs, aggression can be a natural way to communicate pack order and keep the peace in a social group. Aggression can also arise when a dog feels the need to defend his territory, to protect himself or his pack members, or to deal with fear. American bulldogs, like all dogs, need training and socialization to curb any tendencies for aggression.

Preventing Aggression

The best time to start working with your American bulldog is while he's young. An animal behaviorist can teach you exercises to do with your dog. These can help him understand that you're the pack leader and he must submit to your instructions. Puppy kindergarten classes will help socialize the dog, and early obedience training can help establish the nature of your relationship. Older dogs who exhibit aggression are more difficult to deal with, and your pooch would benefit from the expertise of a behaviorist working with your veterinarian .

Problem Solving

"Aggression can be a dangerous behavior problem. It’s complex to diagnose and can be tricky to treat. Many behavior modification techniques have detrimental effects if misapplied," says the ASPCA on its website. The first step in behavior therapy is to identify the situations that bring your dog to aggression, then develop a treatment plan. For example, if your dog's aggression is anxiety-related, the behaviorist will set to desensitize your dog to things that make him anxious, such as being left alone. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help with the process.

Happy Endings

Although American bulldogs are not known to seek fights, they typically won't back down from a challenge, either. The breed's most remarkable features, his large head and strong jaws, make it imperative that aggressive behaviors be immediately addressed. These dogs need owners who can take control, which will keep the dogs happy, and in order to enjoy the fine qualities of the breed, owners must socialize and train these magnificent creatures. American bulldogs are fabulous companions, but, as with any dog, aggression should be taken seriously.

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