The American Bully is the new breed on the block when it comes to the Bully breed dogs. Originating in the 1980’s and reaching their full behavioral quality and aesthetic appearance in the 1990’s. These dogs were bred specifically as companion pets. American Bullies make great family pets, and when it comes to training you may ask, are American Bullies smart?
American Bullies are a very smart breed of dog. They are a very family oriented companion dog and are very receptive to training. Their high intelligence paired with the American Bullies eagerness to please can make them easy to train, and a smart choice for families wanting a Bully breed.
Using your American Bully’s smarts and loving devolution to the family can help tremendously when it comes to basic commands and obedience. I have laid out some easy to follow principles and tips in this post to help you get the most out of your American Bully’s training.
Are American Bullies Hard To Train?
American Bullies are not hard to train when you have the proper plan and tools ready. This breed will be willing to stand on their head for you if they understand the command. By nature they are wanting to please their owner, and with the right direction, consistency, and approach, training your American Bully can be easy.
Any dog will make mistakes of course, so patience and positive reinforcement is important when training any dog. Training your American Bully should be enjoyable, but if you are struggling with certain problems, contacting a professional is always a good option.
Are American Bullies Stubborn?
Compared to some of their Bully breed cousins, the American Bully is not very stubborn. They are very receptive to training and are more eager to please than some of the more independent and wilful dog breeds.
That being said your American Bully can be stubborn at times, but will respond better to positive reinforcement training with a firm and gentle style of pack leadership.
The level of your American Bully’s stubbornness can be correlated to your method of training, so take a look at your approach before you blame the Bully.
When Should I Start Training My American Bully?
Training your American Bully puppy should start the moment they arrive in your home. Yes day one is when the puppy training can, and should begin. The earlier you are able to build the bond and relationship as pack leader, the easier training your American Bully puppy will become.
They are still puppies and will not appear all that smart, because they aren’t yet, they are learning. Take training slow, but be consistent every single day. Early training and socialization are the best foundation you can have for a balanced, well behaved American Bully dog.
How Do You Train A Bully Puppy?
There are few basic tips when it comes to how to train an American Bully. These can be used for any breed of dog really, but are especially important for large, powerful, and smart dogs like the American Bully.
These tips can make all the difference between having a mischievous, poorly mannered American Bully in your home, or a well balanced obedient American Bully.
Keep It Short
Whether you are working on basic obedience commands or more advanced tricks, keep your training sessions short. 15-20 minute training sessions with your American Bully are a great chunk of time to practice and keep your dog focused and engaged.
The American Bully is smart and will pick up commands very easily. As they begin to understand, try and increase the challenge as they learn. This will make these short sessions progress that much faster.
It may not seem like a lot of time, but over time, these 15 minute training sessions really add up.
Keep It Consistent
Short 15-20 minute training sessions done everyday or a couple times throughout the day can reap great rewards in both the short and long term. This will be especially important with your American Bully.
Consistency is key when training your American Bully. Training each and every day will help commands and obedience training stick, as well as provide that excellent mental stimulation your American Bully craves.
A daily training practice session will not just make your smart American Bully even smarter, but it will strengthen your bond with your dog. This time is so important for both you and your American Bully puppy.
Keep It Fun!
American Bullies love to have fun, and engage with their family. They live for this kind of activity, and want nothing more than to spend time with you. Making training engaging for them in your 15-20 minute daily sessions will ensure they are eager to continue learning.
Be sure not to get your American Bully too excited during this time. There is a difference between having fun and getting them wound up. Challenges and rewards in the form of treats and praise are great fun for the smart American Bully. Getting them excited will distract from the training.
Keep It Positive
Combining engaging activities with positive reinforcement will provide the best results when it comes to training your American Bully. They respond very well to firm commands and positive reinforcement.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, angry, or even yelling, then it’s time to stop the training session and try again later.
Both you and your American Bully will do better when things are done in a positive manner. Your puppy will immediately see your frustration and lack of calm leadership, and this will get you nowhere.
Keep Them Fit
Giving your American Bully the proper nutrition, and the right amount of food can ensure they have the most optimal cognitive functions. A premium dog food, along with a good amount of exercise can be one of your best tools to have a American Bully willing and able to train.
Give Them Exercise
American Bullies are a fairly energetic breed. Giving your American Bully a good amount of exercise before a training session can help them focus on the task at hand. Taking a well mannered brisk walk and ending it with your training session can be an ideal setup for success.
While on your walk make sure that your American Bully puppy is heeling and walking nicely beside you. This is the single most important activity you will do together, and training to heel and walk loose leash will create a very strong leader/follower bond. This makes all other training activities that much easier for your American Bully.
Give Them Activities
Giving your American Bully the physical exercise their high energy demands is important. Equally as important is their mental exercise.
American Bullies are very smart and can get bored. Providing your American Bully with activities to stimulate their brain can provide fantastic results when it comes to behavior, and engaging them in training sessions.
Give Them Friends
Basic obedience is important. Leash manners and establishing house rules are also important. Socializing your American Bully puppy from an early age is crucial in their development. The American Bully can be a rough and tumble play companion, and because of their size and strength, proper socialization is needed.
Early socialization is one of the biggest factors in raising a well behaved and balanced American Bully. They learn how to play, interact, and be social with other dogs, and people. Expose your American Bully puppy to as many dogs, people, sounds, smells, and different environments as you can.
By doing this you can bypass many behavioral issues that can develop around anxiety, fear, and protectiveness. Early socialization will give your American Bully puppy more confidence, and lead to a more balanced adult.
Give Them Rules
Sit, stay, down, off, and leave it are a great start for commands, but understanding rules of the household are as well. Your American Bully needs to understand their boundaries, whether that be not being on your bed, or jumping up to greet you. Firm and consistent rules are a must with the American Bully.
Work on establishing boundaries both in the home and personal space on a daily basis.
Start your training early with your American Bully puppy. Like children, puppies are little sponges and will learn a lot and fast, especially the highly intelligent American Bully.
This can be learning good behaviors and establishing your role as pack leader, or they can be learning what they can get away with, and assert themselves as the boss. Starting training early is your best course of action to avoid this behavior.
Laying the foundation of your training with your American Bully puppy is one of the most important things you will do as a responsible owner. This initial training can take a little while, or your American Bully puppy will be easy to train. Either way, be patient and practice these 5 basic commands often.
Make sure you have some really good smelling and tasty treats ready. Your American Bully puppy will be at full attention when they know you have something yummy.
Every time they perform any of these commands, even for a few seconds, they get rewarded.
Increase the duration of the command over time, but at first a little progress is still progress. Give them the reward.
A cue word like “yes” or “good job” should also be used when rewarding to let your puppy associate that cue with having completed the command. Some people prefer the clicker method of training in place of the verbal cue, which works as well, you can find some really good inexpensive clickers on Amazon.
Do you have a treat in your hand? Good. Let your dog know that you have it, let them smell it and be aware of which hand it is in. Then follow these 3 simple steps
- Place the back of your treat hand near your dogs nose
- Raise your hand up so that your dogs head follows, and their butt goes down
- As soon as they sit down, you say “Sit” and give them that delicious treat. Followed with a “yes” “good job” or whatever praise cue you choose
- Repeat this numerous times, and gradually increase the time between the “sit” and the reward.
The reason I mention placing the back of your hand close to their nose is you can use this as a hand signal eventually. I don’t even need to say “sit” to my Staffy anymore, just show her the back of my hand and move it up, and she sits.
I already know you have a treat in your hand and your dog knows it, so let’s begin.
- In your non-treat hand make a flat palm stop motion and say “Stay”
- Take a step or two back
- If they have remained where they are, give the release cue “yes”, “good job” and let them come get their treat. Lots of praise afterwards.
Repeat this a few times taking more steps back each time. Always use the hand signal when you say “Stay” to associate the two for easier commands down the road. Once they nail the stay, we are ready for “Leave it”
This is going to be similar to the stay, but without the treat in your hand. I use the one finger in the air hand signal. My Grandmother would do this same hand signal to me when fresh cinnamon buns came out of the oven.
Pointer finger up, palm facing your American Bully puppy. Doing this on the floor with your puppy will be easier at first.
- Have your puppy sit and/or stay and place a treat on the floor between you and the dog
- Say “leave it” with your hand signal
- After a few seconds you can give the release cue “yes” and they can come collect their reward.
Repeat this adding more time and distance between you and the treat. Give lots of praise when they “leave it”. When you get to the more advanced version of this you can work on your dog giving direct eye contact and not looking at the treat.
The “Down” command should be used specifically to get your dog to lay on their belly. I have often seen this used for that as well as getting the dog to stop jumping up on someone or something. Stick to one command for one specific response. Got your treat? Good. Get down on the floor again with the puppy.
- Using your treat hand get your dog to follow your hand as you move it palm down to the floor.
- Once your dog is following your hand to the floor, move your hand towards you and away from the dog along the floor to hopefully get them to stretch out their body along the floor to their belly.
- Once they have the belly on the floor in the down position you say “Down” and give them the reward.
This one may take a little practice, but keep going, stay positive, don’t get frustrated. If they really don’t get it a few times, do a few quick “Sit” commands then return to the “Down” practice. This will keep your dog engaged and not frustrated.
Last but not least is how you train a American Bully puppy to come when called. This one will especially come in handy for all sorts of situations. Making this one fun and rewarding is very important. When your dog hears the command “Come” they should be thrilled to run right up to you.
- Start training this command with a leash on your dog. Get on the floor, give a hand gesture motioning to yourself and say “Come”
- Gently pull on their leash toward you if they don’t naturally come.
- When they are right in front of you they get the yummy treat and tons of praise.
Once they are doing this with no leash prompt you can remove the leash and increase the distance between you. Try doing a “Stay” and have the release “Come” to practice both skills. Once they have this skill down, try practicing in different environments with more distractions.
Two important things to remember when using the command “Come” to ensure you get the response you want are:
Never repeat yourself
Make sure you have your dog’s attention before using the “Come” command. We have all seen those owners at the bark yelling “Come! Come! Fluffy Come! Come Fluffy! Come!” and the dog has completely tuned out. This is called poisoning the cue. It will become background noise to your dog.
Never ever ever ever discipline or scold your dog when they come
If your American Bully Fluffy is at the park or in the yard and is maybe not responding to “Come” right away, but they do eventually return, never punish them.
You do not want them to associate “Come” and returning to you as a negative, this defeats the entire purpose of the command.
Are American Bullies Easy To Potty Train?
Potty training American Bullies can be easy when you are proactive and set your American Bully puppy up for success. Taking your puppy out frequently, especially in the early days, will minimize accidents in your home. Your American Bully puppy is pretty smart and will learn fast if given the opportunity.
How Do You Potty Train An American Bully Puppy?
Some of the best ways to potty train your American Bully puppy is by being proactive. Take your puppy out as soon as they:
- Wake up from a nap.
- Finish eating or drinking.
- Finish playing or during play time.
- As soon as you let them out of their crate.
Every time your puppy successfully goes to the bathroom outside you shower them in praise. Make them feel like they are champions! This kind of positive reinforcement will lead to them better understanding where to go potty and when.
American Bully puppies will understand a routine before they understand much else. Dogs are creatures of habits, so if you set up a regular routine that your puppy can rely on for when a potty break is coming, the better chance you both have. Following the tips above is a perfect example of routine potty breaks they can follow.
Accidents do happen. The best you can do is clean up after your puppy and better monitor them for the next time. When your American Bully goes potty in the house it’s your fault, not theirs, remember that and be more proactive next time.
NEVER yell, punish or hit your puppy for going to the bathroom in the house. This will not only be ineffective in their potty training, but will lead to behavioral issues around fear and anxiety. The most you should do is ignore the puppy after an accident, and move on to try again later.
How Do You Crate Train A Bully Puppy?
Crate training your American Bully puppy can be a very effective tool from puppy to adult. Training your puppy to be in their crate in a calm, relaxed, and peaceful manner can help with potty training, separation anxiety, and travel.
Begin crate training your Bully puppy very slowly and gradually. This is going to be a nice comfortable place for your dog to relax, have a snooze, and be calm. A happy and safe space. Ensure their crate has comfortable blankets, or a bed, and enough room for them to stand up and turn around in comfortably.
Once you have a comfortable environment for your Bully puppy you can begin getting them used to their crate. These are a few steps and tips I used when training my Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy to be in her crate.
Tips For Introducing Crate Training To Your American Bully Puppy
- Begin with treats and enticing your puppy inside the crate. Encourage, and maybe coax, but don’t force.
- Once they are inside the crate, give them a reward. Keep the door open at this point.
- Invite your puppy out of the crate, and reward.
- Repeat this process but this time close the door of the crate for 10 seconds. If they are calm in the crate. Give them a reward inside the crate.
- Slowly open the door. Make sure they don’t burst out. We are teaching them to be invited out when calm.
- Repeat this process again and again, extending the length of time the door is closed. 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc…
- Once they have this down pat, try leaving the room for a minute, then 2 minutes, etc…
Practice this often and always be sure that your puppy is calm before being rewarded, and calm when coming out of the crate to get another reward. They may have a fit, and you will want to let them out, but be strong and let them have a fit. Once they are done, they can come back out calmly.
I should note that a fit is just a protest against being left alone in the crate. Obviously if you dog is in serious distress and injured you need to take care of that, but if you are training and know they are just protesting, be strong and wait for calm.
Before too long your American Bully puppy will realize the crate is a space place, and they may use it without prompting to take a nap or just take some alone time. Patience and consistency in training is important.
NEVER use the crate as punishment. This will undo any progress you have made, and is exactly what we are trying to avoid. The crate is used as a calm and safe place, not a punishment ever.
Getting the proper crate is also important for your American Bully puppy. They may be tiny little nuggets now, but they will be big adults soon enough, so getting yourself something like an iCrate that has adjustable divider panels is a great way to expand your puppies crate size as they grow.
Can An American Bully Be Left Alone?
The American Bully can be left alone during the day for 6-8 hours maximum. This is for fully grown and potty trained adults. American Bully puppies can only be left alone typically for only 1-3 hours depending on their age and bladder size.
A well balanced American Bully adult can spend the day at home while you are away at work. Typically they will snooze most of the day away, and eagerly wait for your return.
When you come home to a mess and destructive behaviors however, there are some other factors at play such as boredom, anxiety, and lack of exercise.
Do American Bullies Have Separation Anxiety?
American Bullies can suffer from separation anxiety more so than other breeds typically. Because the American Bully is such a family focused and oriented dog, being away from their owners can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for them. Do not fear though, I have a few tips that may help.
Tips For Helping American Bullies With Separation Anxiety
Crate training as mentioned above is a great way to be proactive about separation anxiety. Teaching your dog how to be calm in their den and gradually desensitizing them to your absence will help with extended periods of time.
It’s not recommended to crate your dog for longer than 4-5 hours, however the crate training practice itself, will help in the long run.
Desensitize your dog to you being away. Practice calmly and uneventfully leaving your home, and then calmly and uneventful returning in 1 minute, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes.
By making leaving and returning a non issue, your dog will soon realize that you always come back, and it’s no big deal to be alone.
Exercise your American Bully before your leave. When you know you are going to be away from the home for a little while make sure to give your dog plenty of exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog. Burning off some of that Bully energy will make your absence much easier.
Using a calming supplement such as a CBD oil or other calming treats can help with especially anxious dogs. CBD oil for dogs has been a widely used method of treating dogs with anxiety and might be an additional supplement to include.
I have written extensively about CBD oil for dogs on my resource page if you would like to learn more about some of the best products and brands on the market today.
Training Your American Bully Leash Manners
Leash manners are important for every dog to learn, and especially for your big strong American Bully. Being in control and establishing your bond as the pack leader is important. These are a few simple tricks you can practice if you American Bully needs some training on leash manners.
First get yourself a proper harness and leash. Harnesses are much better for walking your big American Bully because they allow you to have more control on their movement. It is also great for teaching your American Bully puppy to walk on leash, as the harness avoids any trip ups and tangles that could occur.
Tips For Walking Your American Bully
Now that you are all geared up time to start training your American Bully to walk nice. Your dog should be walking next to you with a loose leash. No tension. The dog needs to be following your pace as the leader and heeling. If they begin to pull on the leash and walk ahead of you, there are a couple options.
Completely stop walking and don’t let your dog pull and advance forward. Once you are at a stop, recall your dog to the heel position, praise, and begin walking again. When they begin pulling again. Stop and repeat. This may be tedious, but trust me it works with consistency and practice.
Your second option when your dog is pulling ahead, is to change directions quickly. A sudden change in direction will throw your dog off course and force them to follow you again. Once they are back to a heel position you can praise them, and continue on walking. As above, practice as much as it takes.
Allowing your dog to walk ahead and pull on the leash teaches them two things. One that they are in charge of the walk and the pack leader, and two, that pulling is a way to move forward. These need to be corrected if you plan to ever enjoy your walks together.
Walking your American Bully is one of the single most important activities you will do with them. This can strengthen your relationship and bond, and help develop great manners and establish your leadership. If you are struggling with your walks, consulting a professional to help is recommended.
Do American Bullies Bark A Lot?
American Bullies are for the most part not known to bark a lot. They are a relatively quiet and chill breed of dog that is not very vocal. They can and may alert to potential threats, but are not an over enthusiastic guard dog.
American Bullies can be a little needy for attention at times, and may let you know this with a little bark. They can also get bored if under exercised, so if your Bully is barking at you it’s either time for a walk or belly rubs. Typically though they are not a dog that barks a lot.
Training an American Bully puppy can be easy when you understand their intelligence and eager natures. They are smart, loveable, and gentle creatures that aim to please in all that they do.
Following some basic principles of keeping training short, fun, consistent, and positive will reap great rewards in your training.
Always be learning alongside your American Bully dog. Never stop learning new approaches and tips, tricks and techniques to further strengthen their confidence, obedience, and bag of tricks. A few recommended books for those just getting started with their training program would be:
Each of these books provided me with similar yet different approaches to try and I was able to find what worked best and adapt them to my training with Ruby. I would highly recommend you check out these books.