Are Bull Terriers Hard To Train? 18 Tips & Tricks

The Bull Terrier is one of the most unique Bully breeds out there today. They are sweet, loving, courageous and sometimes incredibly stubborn dogs. When it comes to training a Bull Terrier you need to understand the breed and its history. Knowing what challenges and advantages await you can determine if training a Bull Terrier is hard.

Are Bull Terriers hard to train? Bull Terriers are not easy and can be hard to train for those inexperienced, and some experienced dog owners. Though the Bull Terrier is a very smart dog, they can also be very stubborn. Training can be a hard challenge if you are not a strong, calm and patient pack leader.

Bull Terriers can respond very well to the proper handler and can be quite easy when balanced training is applied. For new owners unfamiliar with the breed, or first time dog owners, training a Bull Terrier can be quite hard.

But fear not, where there is a will, there is a way. I have some tips and tricks that can help with your Bull Terrier training.

Are Bull Terriers Hard To Train?

bull terrier puppy jump

When you begin your journey training your Bull Terrier there are a few things to keep front of mind. The Bull Terrier will respond well to a calm and assertive trainer. These dogs can be very head strong, and will not respond to an over excited or weak handler.

Bull Terriers are fairly intelligent dogs, and are eager to please their owners, when it suits them. Training doesn’t have to be hard. It can in fact be made a lot easier, if made enjoyable for the dog. Bull Terriers love to have fun, and are often mentioned to be “kids in dog suits”. Use this to your advantage.

Socialization Will Help With Training A Bull Terrier

Training with you Bull Terrier can, and should start as soon as they come to your home. Bull Terrier puppies can begin learning basic commands and behaviors as early as 10-12 weeks old. Early socialization should also begin as early as possible.

Once your Bull Terrier puppy has had all of their shots, and is cleared to venture out in the world to meet other dogs, your socialization can begin.

Introduce your puppy to as many people, dogs, sounds, smells, and environments you can. The more socialization they receive at the beginning the more they are able to learn good behaviors. This will prevent any fearful or distrusting behaviors as they get older.

Better socialized dogs can be much easier to train, and your Bull Terrier will be no exception. Socialize them well, and socialize them often and you will reap the benefits for years to come.

How Long Does It Take To Train A Bull Terrier?

A Bull Terrier can get a solid understanding of basic commands by the age of 6 months. Verbal commands such as sit, stay, lay down, and off can be pretty well mastered within the first year of consistent training.

That being said, a dog’s training should never end. Training should be done consistently each and everyday. Not only reinforce desired behaviors, but to provide your Bull Terrier the mental stimulation they need.

Working in a 10-20 minute training session of basic commands, and new tricks every day can drain as much energy as a 15 minute walk. And your Bull Terrier has energy to spare, so finding ways to help burn off that energy is important.

Tips For Training A Bull Terrier

When working with your Bull Terrier on various training sessions, there are a few tips you should follow to make training your Bull Terrier much easier.

  • Keep your sessions short – 10-20 minute training sessions are an ideal period of time to keep your Bull Terrier fully engaged and responding well to learning
  • Keep your sessions fun! – Bull Terriers love fun! If you want to avoid making training harder by activating the stubborn streak in your dog, always make things fun and rewarding
  • Balanced training techniques – An approach to training of both positive reinforcement (rewarding desired behaviors) and discipline (structure and rules) are very effective with Bull Terriers. They respond well to positivity and a strong, calm pack leader. Yelling, hitting, or other negative reinforcements should be avoided as they are not only abusive, but ineffective.

Why Are Bull Terriers So Stubborn?

bull terrier strut

The reason why Bull Terriers are so stubborn is because that is how they were bred to be. It is encoded in their DNA as former hunting, fighting, and working dogs.

The bull and terrier breeds that came to form the modern day Bull Terrier were a mix of two types of stubborn dogs. The Bulldog being the fearless sort of stubborn, and the terrier being the tenacious sort of stubborn.

The fearless Bulldog origins of the Bull Terrier were dogs that were often involved in work as war dogs, and eventually (and very unfortunately) bloodsport dogs in bull baiting, and dog fighting rings. These dogs had to be fearless to survive. Though the Bull Terrier is long removed from those gruesome days, that fearless stubborn streak persists.

The other half of the Bull Terrier was the terrier sort of stubborn. The tenacious terrier had the jobs of hunting small animals or animals of similar size. Oftentimes needing to put themselves in vulnerable positions with another animal’s ground den. This sort of tenacious stubborn has also been coded into the DNA of the Bull Terrier.

Bring those two breeds together and you have a combination of stubborn that is tough to break. So when it comes to training your Bull Terrier you have to be aware that this stubborn streak can make training hard at times.

Following the tips above about keeping training, fun, short, and well structured with positive reward, can make a world of difference.

Are Bull Terriers Hard To Potty Train?

Bull Terrier potty training can be relatively easy, and their breed doesn’t make potty training hard. The Bull Terrier can be potty trained by the age of 6 months. Like all other dogs potty training can be made much easier with some tips and tricks to help with the learning and prevention of accidents.

Potty training a Bull Terrier can be hard if you do not follow some simple guidelines. Knowing when to get your puppy outside (or to their designated spot), understanding the signs your Bull Terrier puppy needs to potty, and knowing how to achieve the desired behaviour are key.

Be Proactive With Potty Training

Being proactive and preventing potty training accidents can be dramatically helped along through crate training. Dogs are den animals and a crate is a place for them to feel safe and comfortable. Dogs do not like soiling their dens. By crate training your puppy you can avoid some accidents in the house.

When your puppy is whining and pawing at their crate door, you know it’s time to go. Bring them to their pee pad, or spot outside in the yard, and be sure to praise them once they have gone where they should. 

Do not shout, scold, shame, or rub your puppy’s nose in any accidents. This type of negative reinforcement is not only ineffective, but can produce fear and anxiety in your dog. This can lead to further behavioral issues down the road.

If they have an accident in the house, you ignore it. If they go potty in their designated spot, you praise them like a champion! Once they learn that this behavior is praised and desired, the easier potty training will become.

Being proactive is the best way to avoid potty training accidents in the home. When I brought home my Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy Ruby I lived on the 10th floor of an apartment downtown. I didn’t have the time window to get her outside in time once she let me know she had to go. So I had to be proactive, and it worked like a charm.

Tips On Being Proactive With Potty Training A Bull Terrier

To be proactive and avoid those accidents in your home you should get your puppy outside everytime they:

  • Wake up in the morning or from a nap
  • Finish eating or drinking
  • Finish playing or during playtime
  • Before you go to bed at night
  • Anytime you bring them out of their crate after being alone for more than 2 hours.

These 5 guidelines alone saved me hours of clean up in my apartment. They will save you the same in your home. Puppies understand routine very well. Once they begin to understand when to expect they will be going outside, the better they will become at their potty training.

Always be patient during this time of you Bull Terrier puppies training. They are still learning all about this new world, and accidents will happen from time to time. If you can follow some of those simple guidelines and encourage their accomplishments, you will have potty training mastered by 6 months. Give or take.

How Do You Train A Bull Terrier To Walk On A Leash?

bull terrier

Walking your dog is one of the most important activities you will do with your Bull Terrier. It is one of the best bonding experiences a dog and its owner can have. This can have a much larger influence on the behavior of a dog. Both good and bad.

The important thing to always keep in mind when training your Bull Terrier to walk on a leash, is that you are walking them. Not the other way around.

The goal is to have your Bull Terrier walking at your pace beside you, with no tension on the leash. Perhaps easier said than done, but absolutely possible with practice, patience, and a sense of confidence on your part.

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How Do I Get My Bull Terrier To Walk Beside Me?

In the early days when your Bull Terrier is a puppy it’s good to introduce the concept of a walk slowly. If your goal is to go for a 15 minute walk, first let them do their business and potty first.

That way they will not be distracted. Next it will be time for them to learn to walk beside you. The training can be a real test of patience. You might only get a few blocks, but consistency is key.

When you begin walking and your dog begins to walk in front of you and not pay attention, a change in direction either 180 degrees, or a sharp turn will force them to follow. This doesn’t need to be a harsh motion, but firm enough that they will need to refocus on you and come back.

Once they are beside you again, praise them, and begin walking.

Another technique, and one I used with my Staffy Ruby was to stop walking when she got out in front of me. When she realized I had stopped I would recall her back to my side.

Give her praise and a reward, and then continue walking. In the beginning I would be doing this dozens of times over the course of 2 blocks. We covered very little ground, but we made tremendous progress over the course of a few weeks.

In summary when your Bull Terrier moves in front of you:

  • Change directions to force them to follow you and encourage a heel
  • Stop altogether and recall you dog to the heel position
  • Rinse and repeat as many times as necessary. Don’t worry about distance travelled on your walks. Focus on walking side by side.

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How Do I Get My Bull Terrier To Stop Pulling On Their Leash?

bull terrier and mini bull terrier

Walking with a tense leash is not you walking your dog, but your dog walking you. If your aim is good leash manners, this behavior has to stop. This also requires patience and consistency to get right. By getting things right in the beginning can save you years of headaches.

Similar to the walking in front technique where you stop and recall your dog to heel. Anytime your Bull Terrier begins to pull on their leash you should stop. If your Bull Terrier is pulling, and still making forward progress they will never learn that this type of behavior is unwanted.

Instead your dog needs to learn that forward movement only happens when there is not tension in the leash. As soon as that leash gets tight for a few seconds, you slow down and stop. Have your dog heel, or at least do not move until the tension is released.

I practice this very same technique to this day even when walking with my Staffy Even when she is looking for a place to have a pee. She knows that pulling doesn’t mean she goes where she wants, and she will automatically back up a little to release the leash tension and then we proceed forward. It’s very simple, but very effective.

Praise your dog when they behave well on their leash, but don’t over excite them. Your walks should be a disciplined exercise to strengthen your relationship as pack leader. Master the walk with your Bull Terrier, and training, and life around the home in general will be so much more enjoyable.

In summary when your Bull Terrier begins to pull on their leash:

  • Slow down and come to a complete stop. Recall your dog back to heel position
  • Do not move forward again until tension in the leash is gone.
  • Focus on loose leash walking, not distance covered. Allowing your dog to pull will only encourage more of the same behavior
bull terrier dandelion

How Do I Get My Bull Terrier To Stop Barking?

News flash: Dogs bark. This comes as no surprise to any person you ask on the street. Even children when asked “what does a dog do?” the response 9 times out of 10 will be woof or bark.

There comes a point though when a dog barks too much and far too often, and there are ways to train that behavior away.

Consistency and patience, like every other training, is the key to success when it comes to stopping your Bull Terrier from barking. No amount of shouting at your dog to “shut up!” is going to stop them in the long term. Sure it may startle them for a second, but they will go back to barking soon after.

Here are some tips for getting your Bull Terrier to stop barking.


Good old fashioned exercise can cure many behavior problems with Bull Terriers. These dogs have a high energy level. When they are not getting enough exercise and mental stimulation they can turn to undesired behaviors like obsessive barking.

Getting your Bull Terrier enough exercise and mental stimulation will drain that excess energy and allow them to remain in a more calm and peaceful state afterwards. Pent up energy and boredom can oftentimes be released in excessive barking. 

Your Bull Terrier might be trying to get your attention to let you know “Hey! I’m friggen bored!” or it could be an Obsessive Compulsive thing that develops from under stimulation. Similar to spinning and paw licking.

Exercise is a good first place to start to stop your Bull Terrier from barking a lot, but it may not be the end all be all. You may need to layer on some additional techniques to prevent the behavior

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Training to Speak & Shuuussshhh

Another way to get your Bull Terrier to stop barking is to, well, teach them to bark. I know it sounds strange, but bare with me here this is how I trained my Staffy and it works like a charm.

By training your Bull Terrier to “speak” on command you can also incorporate a stop command of some sort. For me and my Staffy that was a slow “Shhhhhhuuuushhh” sound.

Once I found a trigger for her to bark while interacting solely with me, and tie that command to “speak” I was able to stop that barking with the “shhhuuushh”.

Now anytime she gets excited and begins to bark more than I care for, I can simply get her attention and give the “shhuush” command. When she stops she gets praised and rewarded. It has almost eliminated any unwanted barking behavior from my dog, and can be just as effective for your Bull Terrier.

This technique will take a little practice, so work this into your daily training regime. The game of “speak & shhuush” will be a great mental stimulation activity for your Bull Terrier, and work towards stopping their barking fits in the future.

Praise & Distraction

bull terrier with toy

If you thought training your Bull Terrier to speak was strange, this next one will sound completely crazy. Trust me though, there is something to it, and it can work quite well.

Praise your Bull Terrier when they bark. Yup you heard me, praise them. Your dog believes they are performing a job by alerting you to a possible danger when they are barking at the door or window of your home.

By acknowledging them performing this job, and assuring them that you are aware of the perceived threat, you can set them at ease.

Calmly assure them you are aware of the mailman, or the squirrel, or kids riding their skateboards, and redirect them to something else. When you take control of the situation, and show that you are aware of this potential threat, you are exhibiting pack leader behavior and showing the dog everything is fine.

Distracting them with a toy or different activity right away is the best way to reward them, and to take their mind off the initial target of their barking. Again this may take a few tries, and keep a calm and assertive demeanor when giving praise. The goal is to bring their excitement level down, not up.

Final Thoughts

The Bull Terrier, though a strong willed and somewhat stubborn dog, can be easily trained with enough patience, consistency, and assertive behavior. A well trained Bull Terrier is a joy to have around the home, and can be one of the most rewarding parts of your life.

Following a few of the simple tips and tricks outlined in this post should get your well on your way to training a terrific dog. However if your dog is exhibiting some extreme behaviors, or you are just having a really tough go on training, reach out to a professional dog behaviorist for guidance and advice.

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