Socializing your English Bulldog

Have you ever experienced a dog that has cowered or even snapped at you while being approached? All the while, the owner of the dog explains that “Fifo just doesn’t like strangers.” More than likely, the dog in question was not introduced to a basic socialization program as a puppy.

A proper socialization program introduces and educates the young puppy about the world around them. The critical learning period for an English bulldog puppy is within the first 3-15 weeks of their life. It is both the breeder and owner’s responsibility to implement a comprehensive socialization program during this time period.

One of the first socialization techniques we implement is to introduce our puppies to a select number of friends and family at a young age. Extreme caution in the selection and screening process must be made as young  bulldog puppies are vulnerable to disease pressure, especially before they are vaccinated. Before our English puppies are adopted, we at Bruiser’s Bulldogs ensure that they have met and interacted with a wide variety of people, especially children. This socialization technique should increase in intensity after the bulldog puppies have had their first vaccination shots. Well known dog trainer, Ian Dunbar, MRCVS, believes that a puppy should meet 100 people, at least 20 of them children, before the pup is 12 weeks of age.

Another aspect of a proper socialization program is touch. A puppy should be touched in all areas of their body at a very young age. We like to focus on problem areas such as the feet, ears, and tail the most. It always makes me smile at the excuses dog owners often give when asked why their dog respond negatively to their feet or ears being touched. Outside of physical pain, the answer is almost always improper socialization.

Lastly, we feel it is extremely important to introduce and control the new experiences of a puppy. A bulldog puppy needs to be introduced to a bustling street corner while on a walk, it needs to see, smell and interact with fellow canine friends and other animals, and it needs to feel the warmth of a gentle bath when it is dirty. These kinds of experiences are what mold, shape and teach a bulldog puppy about life. When I said introduce, I also included the word control along with it. Control is important because the new experiences need to be positive for the puppy. The bulldog puppy needs to understand that the nail clippers are a good tool and shouldn’t hurt them and that the loud vacuum cleaner is only trying to clean the hair that it shed the last couple days. As a breeder, we take the responsibility of positive experiences very serious and hope to create a confident foundation in which our puppies can grow and build off of.