American Bullies often get a bad rap for having a hostile nature, but only because they look tough! But that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have to deal with an aggressive bully pup. Like puppies of all breeds, they do have the potential to be aggressive, so what can you do?
If your American Bully puppy is acting aggressively, try to intervene as soon as possible. It’s normal for puppies to bite and nip, but their socialization period begins at a young age, and it’s crucial to establish appropriate behaviour now for when they become adults.
My name’s Rudy, and I own an extra-large American Bully. In this article, I’ll give you some tips on how to handle aggression in your puppy, as well as some helpful information about the breed in general.
How To Get Your American Bully Pup To Stop Biting
You can use several methods to get your bully to stop biting, but as with all puppies, consistency is of utmost importance. I will explore some core training concepts in detail below.
1. Redirection or Command Training
Redirection is a fancy word for using a command. The most common one to teach your puppy is “no” if they’re doing something you aren’t happy with, but calling their name to come to you is a good one to use too.
When command training, make sure your dog always knows that you’re happy with them when they obey! Praise them with pets, treats, and a loving tone of voice. Never physically punish your pet; this will only confuse them and cause anxiety.
My dog loves Cadet Bully Sticks Dog Treats, and they’re great for redirecting gnawing puppy behavior. They’re also helpful for maintaining gum health.
A side note about this training method is that it takes time, so it’s best used in tandem with other means.
2. Bite Inhibition or Withdrawing
It’s normal for puppies to bite and nip when they’re playing with each other, but it’s not so fun when it happens to you. Their sharp teeth can rip your clothes and tear flesh.
Part of this playtime behaviour teaches them boundaries about appropriate play and what is too aggressive. An American Bully mom will begin teaching her pups what is too rough of play from a young age, often by making a high-pitched yelp. Mimicking the same noise can help your bully puppy understand that playtime is no longer fun. Puppies usually need to learn bite inhibition before they’re 18 weeks old.
When using this technique, immediately remove yourself from the situation by getting up or moving away from them. It’s also essential to use the noise as soon as the bite happens, or the puppy won’t correctly associate the action.
The flip side is that with some puppies, inhibition training can do the opposite and get them more riled up, so a short (and gentle) trip to their crate can be a better idea. Also, note that you shouldn’t rush the training. To get the best results, do it when your puppy is calm, and you have enough time to spend together.
3. Replace Your Hand With a Toy
American Bullies are considered a higher-energy puppy breed, and they need ample playtime. Luckily, this excitement usually makes it easy to get them interested in something else quickly.
Quickly replacing your hand (or object in question) with a toy is a great way to get your puppy to understand that they can still have lots of fun chewing, just not on you.
If your puppy is over six months, which is around the time they should have in all their adult teeth, there are some conveniently hardy toys out there meant for dogs that love to chew more than average (most types of Bulldogs and Pitbull-Terriers fall into that category.)
Check out this Benebone Wishbone Dog Chew Toy that comes in three flavors – chicken, beef, and peanut. Don’t worry. It’s odorless for humans, but your pup will be into it.
This affordable KONG – Classic Dog Toy has been a favorite of most dogs I’ve met. It’s fantastic because it’s super durable and bounces as well, so your dog can jump after it and get some exercise. You can stuff it with treats, too, to make it extra fun.
4. Exercise Them
Sometimes all your puppy needs is to go in the yard and run around. American Bullies can be particularly rambunctious puppies because of their classic headstrong nature.
While they aren’t the most exhausting of breeds by any means, they do need their fair share of play and exercise, so if you feel like you’ve tried everything and your dog just won’t settle down, they may just have to blow off some steam outside (or play a good game of tug-o-war).
Dog ropes are a fun way for your bully to not only bond with you but to get their instinct to gnaw out as well.
5. Take Them to the Bathroom, Feed Them, or Let Them Have a Nap
On the opposite end of the spectrum (from needing more exercise), it’s possible your puppy is just tired or cranky. Have they been let out to use the washroom lately? When was the last time they ate? Have they been overstimulated and need some quiet time in their crate to relax?
Make sure you’ve covered all their basic needs before deciding that they aren’t responding to any other methods simply because they have a bad attitude. The same goes for potential injuries
It’s important to note that crate training for your puppy is not cruel as some believe; dogs naturally like to feel safe in a den, and their crate can provide a necessary solace for them. However, you must never put your dog in the crate as punishment, or they may learn to fear it.
If you’re using a crate to give your dog a “time-out” or some time to mellow, always do it calmly.
6. Socialize Them
All puppies come from different backgrounds, and their earliest days of social activity come from their parents and littermates. If you got your puppy very young or from a unique situation, they could benefit significantly by making some other properly socialized dog-friends to help them learn the ways of the world.
7. Take Your Puppy to Obedience Training
If you’ve tried everything, and your American Bully pup is still acting aggressively towards you or biting you in a way that is clearly not meant to be playful (for example, if they are breaking the skin when chomping on you), then it’s time to intervene with professional help. Supervised expert assistance will also allow a particularly aggressive puppy to socialize in a controlled environment.
Unfortunately, for as many fantastic professional trainers there are out there, there are just as many that use unnecessarily harsh methods, so make sure you do your research.
The BC SPCA recommends looking for a trainer that uses humane methods (like the ones listed above.) Never choose one that includes physical or harsh verbal punishment in their program.
Alternatively, if your dog has severely aggressive tendencies to the point that they are unsafe around humans or other animals, you may need to employ the help of an animal behaviorist; they generally have a higher level of schooling than an obedience trainer.
Is the American Bully Generally an Aggressive Breed?
The American Bully is not considered an aggressive breed per se, but they are stubborn and protective, and therefore need firm owners. I think they make fantastic family dogs, and even though they do need a lot of activity, they don’t need quite as much as most of the other Bully breeds.
They’re more likely to be aggressive towards other dogs than they are towards their families because they know it’s their job to guard you (with the proper training, they can make some of the best guard dogs out there). Even so, they can be independent when they want to be. Whether or not they get along with other animals depends on their socialization and training when they were young, and ultimately, their personality.
They can be teddy bears around young kids and have a higher pain tolerance than most dogs, so they can usually handle some tugging on the ears or a toddler-hit here and there.
Because they can be resolute, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to an owner who isn’t home often and can help them get out their excess energy. It’s when they start getting restless or under stimulated that most acting out can happen with this breed.
I’m clearly a huge fan of the American Bully breed, and if your puppy is exhibiting aggressive behaviour, try not to panic. They’re great dogs, and most of the time, fixing the issue just requires patience and attention.
With the several methods listed in this article, you should be able to get that puppy aggression in check without a problem.
Make sure to give your puppy plenty of attention and praise (along with plenty of food) and see if they don’t grow into one of the most loyal companions you could have.
I created this blog to share my passion for bullies, and help current and future pitbull owners with things like diet and education.
Hope you find it useful, don’t hesitate to drop a comment on my articles!