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Friendly, energetic, confident, and gentle — these are only a few of the personality traits that describe an American Bulldog.
This powerful, intelligent breed loves nothing more than to be near their family, whether it’s playing, cuddling, or just lying at their feet.
You may be wondering:
Can American Bulldogs Be Attached to Their Owner?
American Bulldogs can become attached to their owner and family. These dogs are fiercely loyal, protective, and loving, all of which leads them to build tight bonds with their families, whom they view as their “pack.”
In this article, I’ll outline the bond between canines and humans. Then, I’ll explore the traits of the American Bulldog and how they contribute to the breed’s ability to form close, loving bonds with their families. Read on to learn more.
Canine and Human Bonds
According to a canine study supported by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna, dogs — all domesticated breeds, including American Bulldogs — form bonds with humans much like infants and children form relationships with their caregivers.
The study concluded that this behavior results from the “secure base effect.” Essentially, canines become close to and familiar with their owners.
Thus, they feel safe enough to explore their environment when their “safe base” is around. This is incredibly similar to the way children interact with their parents or caregivers — and it’s how we form bonds.
The secure base effect is evidenced by the dogs’ behavior during the study. When the dogs’ owners were present, the canines spent more time interacting with the unfamiliar toys nearby. However, when the owners left the room, the dogs spent far less time engaging with the toys.
Researchers believe that the dogs didn’t feel comfortable interacting with their environment because its owner wasn’t there as a “secure base.” Additionally, some of the dogs showed attachment behaviors by jumping or scratching on the door after their owner left.
Canine and Canine Bonds
In a peer-reviewed study published by Science Reports, researchers found that even in strong canine/canine relationships, dogs still refer to their humans. This perhaps indicates that humans and dogs can form stronger bonds than dogs can form with their own species.
All-in-all, these studies conclude that dogs and humans can, indeed, form close relationships.
Therefore, it’s feasible to say that, yes, American Bulldogs can become attached to their owners.
American Bulldogs Understand Pack Hierarchy
Like all domesticated (and wild) canines, American Bulldogs are pack animals. This means that they’re naturally social creatures that live, hunt, sleep, and play in groups. Many scientists and animal experts believe that canines form packs for survival — which brings about the old adage, “There’s strength in numbers.”
As we’ve domesticated dogs and have brought them into our homes, we’ve essentially become their “pack.” Many dog experts believe that the pack mentality and social hierarchy of their ancestors are what leads dogs to remain loyal to their humans.
So, what does that mean for human and dog relationships? Well, it means that your American Bulldog doesn’t love to play tug-of-war with you — it means that he believes his loyalty to his pack will keep him alive.
Becoming The “Alpha”
If you attend obedience training, watch dog training shows, or read training books, you’ve probably heard the experts mention “becoming the alpha,” or “be the dog’s master.”
In canine social pack hierarchies, there is a “leader.” This is considered the “alpha” of the group. The alpha is the dog that leads the pack — the others follow.
As humans, we don’t typically participate in these social hierarchies in the way that dogs and wolves do. However, it’s still important for us to establish this chain of command to help our dogs understand and recognize where they stand within the family.
In other words, you’ll need to establish those hierarchies early on to show your dog that you’re the boss and what you say goes. A calm, yet assertive owner can establish themselves as the leader so that the dog respects them and follows their commands.
Why Is Establishing Social Structure Important When Training an American Bulldog?
Establishing a social structure when training an American Bulldog teaches the dog its place within the family.
Without structure, an American Bulldog — already willful and assertive — will assume the position, and may display unwanted dominant traits, such as biting, barking, and ignoring commands.
These dogs understand “pack hierarchy” and, therefore, require a strong, confident owner.
A dog who believes itself to be the head of the pack will not take commands from subordinates — and unless you establish yourself as the leader early on, that’s exactly how your American Bulldog will view you.
With a strong leader, the American Bulldog will recognize its place within the pack. This allows the dog to develop strong, healthy bonds instead of becoming dangerously headstrong and demanding.
American Bulldogs Are Naturally Protective
Bulldogs have a rather tough history. During the 17th century, these athletic canines were used in bull-baiting, a cruel sport that involved putting dogs into a ring with bulls with the purpose of fighting. Spectators would wager bets on who would win.
Fortunately, the savage sport was outlawed in 1835. Once these strong dogs were no longer allowed to enter the ring, they were bred to be kinder, gentler, and more relaxed than their bull-baiting predecessors.
Interestingly, however, American Bulldogs came to the United States before the original bulldog breed was selectively bred to change its size. As a result, American Bulldogs have retained the strength and proportions of their ancestors.
Their intimidating demeanor is enough to ward off would-be intruders — and if it doesn’t, they’re always ready and willing to protect. These tough, determined dogs pose impressive stamina and strength, and they’ll protect their family at all costs.
The “Nanny Dog”
It’s their love for their people that make them such effective protectors and guardians. In fact, American Bulldogs have been nicknamed the “nanny dog,” because they’re so adamant about keeping watch over their family.
These companionable canines are highly emotional and the strong bonds that they form are evident in the way that they interact with their owners. In fact, American Bulldogs are often mentioned in the media due to their heroic acts towards family members.
This is often attributed to their intense willingness to protect those that they love.
As the owner of an extra-large American Bully, I know first-hand that these cuddly canines develop strong bonds with people. In fact, they usually have a “favorite” person with whom they bond and protect more heavily.
Unfortunately, with that urge to protect comes the willingness to fight. This is why it’s incredibly important to train and socialize your American Bulldog early on.
Training an American Bulldog
During their puppy years, American Bulldogs are often stubborn and willful. In other words, they’re instinctively dominant — and as we’ve mentioned, they require an owner that’s confident, calm, and in charge.
It’s so important to train and socialize an American Bulldog early on. While it might seem cute to watch a puppy bark at other animals or strangers that approach you, this protective instinct could easily translate to aggression as the dog ages.
Additionally, American Bulldogs aren’t always aware of their size and strength. Their body is similar to a fist — firm and powerful — and could easily knock down an unsuspecting child.
Therefore, you must train your American Bulldog not to jump on people, and to respond to your every command.
It might be cute to watch a puppy greet guests by jumping on them, but as the dog grows, it becomes more of a liability, so train these behaviors out as soon as possible.
Finally, an American Bulldog is a working breed. They possess impressive stamina and strength and do best in a home with an active family that provides adequate exercise for the cuddly canine.
Based on the American Bulldog’s loyalty and willingness to protect their people, it’s plausible to suggest that these canines become attached to their owners and families.
Interestingly, establishing dominance early on could potentially lead to an even stronger bond with your furry friend. This way, it knows who is in charge, and where it stands in the pack hierarchy, an element that’s very important in the life of canines.
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