The days from birth through weaning at 8 to 12 weeks of age are extremely important for English bulldog babies. Bulldogs are intelligent dogs, but their stubbornness can make them difficult to train. Training English bulldogs as puppies gives them the chance to be obedient, mindful companions.
Crate English bulldog puppies when you must leave them on their own. Short-nosed breeds like the English bulldog overheat quickly, so pick a wire or plastic crate with wide, open slats. Crating keeps the puppies confined to a small space, reducing the chance that they will ransack the house while you’re away.
Schedule meal times to prevent accidents. English bulldogs love food and will eat until they get sick if not carefully watched. Fill a bowl with high-quality puppy food and allow the puppies to eat for 10 minutes. If there is any food left in the bowl, save it for the next feeding.
Take your English bulldog puppies outside for plenty of potty breaks. English bulldogs have small bladders and should go out every hour initially, working up to every few hours. Generally speaking, a pup should be able to hold it for one hour longer than its age in months. Take your English bulldog baby outside after naps and meals, as well, to prevent accidents in the house. Carry the puppies to the designated “potty spot” and let them sniff and explore until they potty. Praise each puppy heartily after it has gone potty and offer a small treat as a reward.
Handle each puppy for a few minutes a day to acclimate them to human touch. English bulldogs are prone to conditions such as ear infections and dirt buildup in their wrinkles, and frequent handling makes it easier to treat these ailments when they occur. Bathe puppies monthly to cut down on dirt and grime in their skin folds, and dry thoroughly, including spaces in between wrinkles. You'll bathe them less frequently when they're older, but you'll still need to care for the wrinkles regularly.
Teach your puppies to walk calmly on a leash. English bulldog puppies can be stubborn, but a leash will help guide the puppies and keep them under control. Buckle a collar around each puppy’s neck and attach a 6-foot leash to the ring on the collar. Let the puppies drag the leashes around to get used to the feeling of something behind them. Once they stop paying attention to the leash, pick it up and follow the puppy. Hold a treat in your hand and show it to the puppy, giving the “Come” command. Walk backwards a few steps, tempting the puppy with the treat. As soon as the puppy steps your way, tell him “good dog” in a happy voice and give him the treat.
Train each puppy in basic obedience commands once it is acclimated to the leash. Commands such as sit, lay down, and stay will give each puppy a head start on developing into a polite, obedient family companion. To teach the sit, place the puppy at your side and hold a treat in your fingers. Raise the treat over the puppy's head while telling her to "sit". As soon as her bottom touches the ground, reward her with a bite of the treat. To teach the puppy to lay down, ask her to sit and hold a treat near her nose. Lower it slowly to the ground while giving the "lay down" command. Place your hand on her shoulders to encourage her to lay down, and reward her when her belly is on the ground. To teach the stay, start with the puppy sitting at your side. Place your palm in front of her nose and tell her to "stay" in a firm, strong voice. Take a couple of steps away from the puppy, and only give her the treat if she sits still. If she moves, step directly in front of her and repeat the "stay" command.
- High-quality dog food is essential for English bulldog puppies. Dog foods full of corn and fillers can cause digestive upset and skin irritation in allergy-prone English bulldogs. Look for foods that have meat listed as the top ingredients, and steer clear of any foods that list fillers such as ash and bone meal.
- Continue basic obedience command training until each puppy leaves for its new home. Puppies have short attention spans, so keep your training sessions to a maximum of 10 minutes.
- Never spank your puppy. Physical punishment isn’t effective and only causes the puppy to be afraid of you.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.