The American Bully has been one of my favorite breeds for years. It wasn’t until very recently that I brought one into my life. In late March I met Chester, a 12 week old Pocket American Bully and fell in love. I work from home currently, but still need to go out on occasion and leave my American Bully home alone. Which raises an important question.
Can American Bullies be left alone? As a whole a well balanced American Bully can be left home alone for moderate periods of time. Depending on age. American Bullies with a well established routine and adequate training can be left alone as long as their bladders can tolerate it.
Establishing a proper routine and implementing some basic training was key to being able to leave my American Bully home alone. I started working on this the day I brought my Pocket Bully Chester home.
My proactive approach has allowed me to leave for several hours at a time without causing my American Bully anxiety, stress, or any resulting destructive behaviors. In this post I will cover some of the techniques I used, as well as some you can use to help your American Bully stay home alone in a calm, relaxed state of mind.
Do American Bullies Have Separation Anxiety?
As a general rule a well balanced American Bully will not have separation anxiety. They are however prone to developing separation anxiety when proper routines, and training are not in place. American Bullies love to be with their family. Without proper guidance separation anxiety can develop.
One thing I learned very quickly with my American Bully is how much he loves being near me. Chester is always at my side, under my feet, or within my line of sight. American Bullies are very people oriented. This is why American Bullies make great family dogs. This strong bond can however lead to anxiety and stress when left alone.
Taking a proactive approach to avoid the development of separation anxiety is highly recommended. If your American Bully is already displaying signs of separation anxiety however there are a few things you can do to manage, and hopefully reverse these behaviors.
Keeping An American Bully Calm When Left Home Alone
When left alone there are some simple techniques I use to give my American Bully a sense of calm and relaxation. These routines, training practices, and general care approaches have made leaving Chester alone easy and stress free. Let’s dig in.
In my experience one of the best remedies for any type of behavior problem is exercise. Oftentimes unwanted behaviors stem from a lack of physical exercise. Separation anxiety can be well managed when a proper exercise routine with your American Bully is in place.
American Bullies need on average around 60 minutes of moderate physical exercise each day. Pent up energy from a lack of exercise can result in anxious behaviors. Give your American Bully enough daily exercise. This will ensure they can burn off this energy and be in a calmer state. I always say a tired dog is a happy dog.
Prior to leaving your American Bully at home, take them for a good 20-30 minute walk. Allowing your American Bully to burn off some energy before being left alone will help dramatically with any separation anxiety they may have. I do this with my Pocket Bully everytime I plan to go out, and I have had tremendous success.
American Bullies are a fairly intelligent breed of dog and require a good amount of mental stimulation. Boredom can often lead to anxious or destructive behaviors, so working in some mental exercise each day will be important. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise when it comes to a well balanced dog.
As part of my routine with my American Bully I like to work in about 10-15 minutes of training after our walks. This allows for a more focused dog once they have burned off some initial physical energy. We will work on some basic obedience and trick training to burn off some remaining mental energy. You will be surprised how draining mental exercise can be for a dog.
Typically a short training session prior to leaving my American Bully alone will suffice. There are times however when I can see he is still alert and has some energy left in the tank. In these situations I provide a Benebone for him to chew in his crate. These are incredibly tough chews that can help him entertain himself and self soothe when I am away.
Be sure to not leave any toys or chews with your dog that can be easily destroyed. Strong, durable chew toys will not only keep them busy but ensure they don’t swallow anything they shouldn’t while you are away.
When it comes to separation anxiety crate training is one of the best tools you can use. I have crate trained both my Staffy and my new American Bully puppy and the results have been amazing. Not only are they calm and relaxed, but I have the peace of mind knowing they are safely confined and not getting into mischief while I am away.
Crate training for my American Bully puppy started within the first hours he was home with me. Slowly introducing him to a nice comfortable space he could relax. Small intervals of time in the crate, lots of praise and rewards for calm behavior, and consistency was key.
After a couple of days not only was my American Bully puppy getting accustomed to his crate, he was loving it. I would leave the door open to his crate when I was at home and he would climb in for a snooze or to relax on his own.
Creating a positive association early in crate training will provide your dog a space where they feel safe, comfortable and able to relax. This is one of the single best ways to avoid your American Bully developing separation anxiety.
What Size Crate Does An American Bully Need?
As a general rule you need to provide your American Bully with a crate big enough for them to stand up and turn around in comfortably. The size of the crate should not be too big however. A large crate will give your puppy enough space to potty in a corner and cause issues with potty training.
I swear by the iCrate by MidWest Homes. My Pocket American Bully has been crate trained in the iCrate from when he was just a small puppy, to now being a 55lbs puppy. The iCrate allows you to adjust the amount of available space with a handy divider. As Chester grew I was able to adjust the space he had in his crate without having to buy a brand new one.
The iCrate is easy to set up, easy to move around the house, and super sturdy and secure. Depending on whether you have a Pocket Bully or a XL American Bully you can get the iCrate in a variety of sizes on Amazon. This crate is a must have for any dog owner.
Showing your American Bully that your coming and going from the home is no big deal is another effective method to avoid separation anxiety. Desensitization training is the practice of leaving and returning home in a calm and uneventful manner.
This approach will allow you to leave your dog in a calm state, and return home to a dog in a calm state. With some consistent practice using this technique your American Bully will quickly begin to understand that being left alone is no big deal, and an opportunity for them to relax and have a snooze.
So how do you do this type of training? First we start slow in small time intervals. Simply get up and walk out your door without acknowledging your dog at all. This means no “Daddy’s gonna miss you!” or “You be a good boy, Mama loves you!”. Just get up and go.
The goal is to not leave your dog in a state of excitement. Talking to them or getting them fired up before you leave is counter productive. Calmly leave for a minute or two, then come back inside calmly and without acknowledging them. Especially if they are in an excited state. Wait for them to be calm, then gentle and calmly praise and reward your dog.
Practice this calm exit and return and gradually increase the time spent away. A minute or two in the beginning, to 5 minutes, to 10 minutes, and so on. I did this while simultaneously crate training my American Bully puppy and the combination of the two has worked amazingly.
This video from Cesar Millan is a great example of desensitization training in practice.
Manage The Environment
Crate training is a perfect example of how to manage your dog’s environment to prevent separation anxiety. There are other ways you can help your American Bully avoid developing separation anxiety and other unwanted behaviors by knowing their triggers and managing their environment.
Things like loud noise, seeing people outside, or being left in large open rooms can trigger stress and anxiety in some American Bully dogs. Finding a quiet room, a room away from windows, or a small cozy room for your American Bully will help manage their anxiety and stress.
One thing I have used with both my American Bully and Staffy is leaving them alone with some calm and relaxing music. Sounds silly right? But There is some research that shows this can work great for anxious dogs. There are even specific TV programmings for dogs over at DogTV that have become a big hit recently.
Reward Calm Behavior, Ignore Excited Or Anxious Behavior
Whether you are crate training, desensitization training, or just generally spending time with your American Bully, you must reward and ignore at the appropriate times. Calm behavior should always be calmly praised and rewarded. Anxious and stressed behavior should be ignored.
This might sound a little cruel. I understand how hard this can be. Your instinct tells you that you need to comfort your anxious American Bully, but the best thing you can do is ignore this behavior until they reach a calm state. Giving attention to anxious behavior can reinforce this state of mind and this is what you want to avoid.
Rewarding calm behavior has a similar effect. Showing your dog that you want their calm state of mind by reinforcing with calm praise or a favorite treat. This combination of rewarding and ignoring will help guide your American Bully’s mental state into a well balanced disposition.
Supplementation can be an option when all other attempts have failed, or are still falling short. Giving your American Bully a calming supplement should be a decision made once you have tried all of the above methods first and not as a quick fix option.
There have been some advances in the field of supplementation for anxiety over the years. CBD oil, and herbal chews are just a few of the possible solutions you should consider for your American Bully.
There are a variety of natural chews and treats available to help calm and relax your American Bully when they suffer chronic anxiety. Products like PetHonesty premium hemp chews use ingredients like chamomile, melatonin and valerian root in their delicious chew formula.
I have created a fantastic resource for CBD Oil For Dogs on my resources and reviews page that will break down the benefits and the best brands on the market to consider for your Rottie.
As much as we love being with our American Bullies there will come times when they must be left home alone. Keeping your American Bully in a well balanced state with effective routines, training and general care will be essential for their peace of mind on these occasions.
The techniques I listed above are methods I have used and swear by when it comes to my Staffy and American Bully. My results have been amazing and neither of my dogs suffer from separation anxiety or any form of destructive behaviors when they are left alone.
I hope you are able to have the same level of success with your American Bully. Remember that these techniques take a little time and a lot of patience. Staying consistent and remaining calm will win the day and keep your American Bully stress and anxiety free when left alone.