The Bull Terrier is personally one of my favorite dogs out there. They are boisterous, charming, loving and affectionate dogs with a zest for life that is infectious to those around them. With that zest for life comes an amazing amount of energy, and sometimes hyper activity has some people question, do Bull Terriers ever calm down?
The Bull Terrier will calm down at the age of about 12-24 months when they have reached maturity. The initial puppy energy will begin to dissipate at this stage in their development. They will however still be energetic dogs into their adult years, and will need certain routines to remain calm.
These routines will require enough exercise, discipline, and consistent pack leadership from you to ensure your energetic Bull Terrier isn’t a hyperactive and out of control Bull Terrier. This can easily happen when left unchecked and can lead to behavioral problems in your Bull Terrier. But do not fret, where there is a will, there is a way.
Do Bull Terriers Ever Calm Down?
When your Bull Terrier puppy first arrives in your household it is a very exciting time. They are bundles of energy and hilarious hijinks. They go from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye when it comes to play time and general puppy energy bursts. This sort of energy will last for the first year or two until they reach maturity, but this is not to say that they will calm down all on their own. They need you for that.
Bull Terriers are naturally very energetic dogs and having your Bull Terrier calm down may seem like an impossible task at times, but with patience and consistency you can direct that crazy puppy energy into productive, meaningful tasks.
Training A Bull Terrier Can Help Calm Them Down
You must begin training your Bull Terrier from day 1. This is by far the best way to ensure you can manage that energy in the proper way, because you will never get rid of it.
You can properly channel that energy, and establishing yourself as a leader from the very beginning will save you years of hyper and potentially destructive behaviors.
Bull Terriers are notoriously stubborn when it serves their purpose, and the longer you go without establishing yourself as the leader, the harder it will become for you to control how and when your Bull Terrier will ever calm down.
This can and should be a wonderful and enriching experience for you both, not seen as a chore. This opens up all sorts of opportunities for the dog to learn proper, expected behaviors to remain a well balanced family member, and you might even learn something about yourself when it comes to leadership along the way.
Before we jump into the “how” you need to first understand the “why” your Bull Terrier is hard to calm down, or even to the point of being hyperactive.
Why Is My Bull Terrier So Hyper?
The Bull Terrier comes from a background of sporting and hunting “bull and terrier” breed of dog. This was their design from their inception in the mid 1800’s. Their history from those early days did unfortunately involve dog fighting sports when people decided to cross breed Bulldogs and Terrier type dogs to get the strength, agility, courage, and tenacity each breed possesses.
A man by the name of James Hinks is credited with refining the one of these “bull and terrier” breeds into a more refined and gentler breed that we know today as the Bull Terrier. Though Hinks aimed to breed a companion dog for gentlemen of England, and was successful in doing so, the Bull Terrier still has the genetics of a strong, agile, courageous and tenacious dog.
There Is Hope Calming Down Your Bull Terrier
This is one of the main reasons every Bull Terrier is so high energy. It is in their DNA to be at this energy level from puppy well into adulthood, but this doesn’t mean you can’t harness this energy.
There are some simple techniques and routines you can implement to create the happy balanced dog you want around the house, without losing that boisterous, goofy, zest for life that Bull Terriers have.
These techniques are especially useful if your Bull Terrier has gone beyond the “he has a lot of energy” level into the “my Bull Terrier is a hyperactive maniac”. The hyper Bull Terrier can be dangerous when reaching these levels due to their strength and size and not only can it make you liable as the owner, but it can be very unhealthy for the dogs state of mind.
Are You The Reason Your Bull Terrier Isn’t Calm?
Before I move onto how to calm a Bull Terrier down, you’ll need to first ask yourself a tough question. This is something you might not be aware of, but could be a big contributing factor to why your Bull Terrier is so hyper and won’t calm down. Are you calm or hyperactive?
Dogs pick up on human behaviors and emotions really well. If you are greeting your dog with a high pitched voice and excited behavior when you walk into the room, guess what, that is going to set them off to do the same. If they begin to associate you coming home, with excited and hyper behavior, then that is what the result is going to be.
The best way to greet any dog is through a calm and affectionate approach. There can be a time and a place to get them fired up, but it should be done in a way that you as the leader can turn it off as fast as you can turn it on. Be mindful of your behavior around your dog, they might be picking up some of your bad habits without you realizing.
How Do You Calm A Bull Terrier Down?
The first and most important way to calm a Bull Terrier down is through exercise. I know shocking, who would have guessed it. Your Bull Terrier needs exercise, but not unfettered burning of the crazy type of exercise, it needs to be a structured style of exercise in the right state of mind.
Bull Terriers as a breed are especially human oriented, and are looking for leadership, if they don’t find that leadership, they take over, and that is bad news for both of you. Exercise is the perfect way to establish your role as the pack leader in the house. And there can be more than one member of the household that can represent leadership, this isn’t a solo mission for Mom or Dad.
Daily Exercise Is Crucial For Bull Terriers To Calm Down
Something as simple as a daily walk can consistently strengthen the bond between you and your Bull Terrier when done correctly. They should be following you, the leader, and not wandering around in front of you from side to side in a frantic pace of sniffing and surveying. This is what we call bad leash manners. Which I will get into in the next sections.
This daily walk can not only be a great way for you Bull Terrier to drain off some of that high energy but can lead to cross over training and practice in consistent leadership skills from you. Which leads me to my second technique to calm a Bull Terrier down, and that is mental stimulation.
Bull Terriers are highly intelligent, and eager to please dogs. If you can capture their attention as the leader and introduce challenges and games into their daily activities, you can help maintain a well balanced and happy dog.
Challenges and games should all be exercises in control. Self control from your Bull Terrier, and control from you as the leader in conducting the games. They can be simple training games with food or affection rewards. Giving your Bull Terrier enough mental stimulation in 20 minutes can be almost the same as a 30 minute walk, though I’m suggesting you replace one with the other. I have some more specific activities coming in the next section.
Do Bull Terriers Need A Lot of Exercise
Bull Terriers are high energy and need a lot of exercise. Not necessarily a marathon of a run each morning, or 2 hours of agility training, but they need to have purposeful and consistent daily exercise to keep them happy, and you happy.
It is recommended that you exercise your Bull Terrier for at least one hour a day. This can be broken into a couple exercise periods throughout the day if preferred, but it must be daily if you ever want your Bull Terrier to be calmed down at home.
Walk Your Bull Terrier
As mentioned, simple activities such as going for a nice walk while practicing good leash manners, is excellent for your dog’s energy depiction and health, but also your health as well.
Bull Terriers can be taken for a run as well if you are a runner. This is a great way to burn off a little more energy in a shorter period of time, just be sure to ease your dog into a running routine to see what their limits are.
You don’t want to push your dog harder than they can handle and risk exhaustion or injury. You should also be wary of over exercising your Bull Terrier in warm or hot weather. They are fairly heat sensitive and we don’t want to risk their health in the hot sun.
Play Fetch With Your Bull Terrier
Playing a good old game of fetch is an amazing way to exercise your Bull Terrier. Working in a little bit of mental stimulation and physical activity in this game is the best of both worlds.
You can practice stay and release commands each time you throw their ball or toy. Practice their return and “drop it” commands.
Tug-Of-War Games Are A Bull Terrier Favorite
Tug-of-war can be one of the Bull Terrier’s favorite games. They have the strength and commitment to also give you a good resistance training workout in the process as well. Before you make this a regular activity however, you will need to begin very slow and simple until the “drop it” command is 100% on point.
You want to be able to take that toy from them and end the tug-of-war session in a second. Once you have that down pat, you can let them win a few games for fun. These are a few of the tugs toys I use with my Staffy
- BlueIsland Dog Rope
- Mammoth Cottonblend 5 Knot Dog Rope Toy
- KONG Signature Rope Double Ring Tug Dog toy
There are also a number of toys you can pick up fairly cheap to give your Bull Terrier some additional fun and exercise.
Things like flirt poles and spring poles are good options, but are no substitute for a good walk or run. These would be more supplementary exercise games that you can incorporate into their routine.
Mental stimulation for your Bull Terrier is an important component of you keeping them calm and happy throughout the day. You can drain a lot of energy by engaging a Bull Terrier in mental exercises that can be excellent training practice as well.
Sniff & Search
Sniff and search games for example. Hiding treats or toys around the yard or house for them to actively seek out can engage some of those natural dog instincts through nose activation, and prey drive instinct.
You can also work a variety of different training commands into these games for added stimulation. Things like “hot and cold” cues that you can teach your dog to help guide them if the reward is very well hidden in a large space. Stop and Go commands much like I mentioned when playing fetch. You can get really creative and enjoy this activity as much as your dog.
Chew Toys For Stimulation
Chewing is a natural way for your dog to calm themselves, and is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated. Giving your Bull Terrier a variety of chew toys with various textures can give them an opportunity to fully engage with that toy and satisfy those sensor perceptions they crave.
This again is not a substitute for a good hour long walk, or dedicated training game session. Chew toys are a great supplement for your Bull Terrier as both a low intensity physical activity and a mental stimulation. Don’t skip the walk and give your dog a bone to compensate, that will not keep them calm the whole day.
Food Kongs are also a great mental stimulation, and my go to for when my Staffordshire Bull Terrier Ruby was a puppy and we had already gone for 3 walks, done our training games, and I was trying to get 45 minutes of peace. Filling a Kong with a couple treats and making it a little challenging to get them out will keep your Bull Terrier, or Staffy, entertained for 30-60 minutes.
I would pack in only a few treats, and then push big ice cubes in the rest of the way to make it a challenge. My Staffy would be bouncing that Kong off the floor for almost an hour before she got to those treats, and by then end she was ready for a peaceful nap next to me on the couch.
Are Bull Terriers Easy To Train?
Bull Terriers can be easy to train because of their high level of intelligence. They can be also difficult to train because of the stubborn streak they seem to possess. Starting training from the very first day you bring your Bull Terrier puppy home is the key to success.
The earlier you are able to begin training, and establish the leadership role that Bull Terriers, and all dogs for that matter, are looking for, the better. Bull Terriers are very human focused and eager to please, so starting them off very young can yield terrific results, and aid in all other behaviors, including calming your Bull Terrier down.
Positive Reinforcement & Leadership
Bull Terriers respond very well to positive reinforcement training. Any sort of negative reinforcement training should be avoided at all costs, as the Bull Terrier does not respond well to this sort of reinforcement, and is typically a terrible way to establish trust and respect from your dog.
As the owner you must be consistent with training, and be seen as the pack leader. The Bull Terrier can be very stubborn when it suits them, and if you let that stubborn streak persist you will have a misbehaved dog that picks and chooses what they want to respond to.
Bull Terriers are not always a great choice for first time owners unfamiliar with training, especially training with this breed, but if you can stay consistent and keep your dog disciplined, it can work.
Discipline does not equal punishment. Keep that in mind always. A Bull Terrier will respond to discipline in the sense of repetition and structure when it comes to training. You must be calm, patient, and more stubborn than they are when it comes to the training sessions in order to achieve the desired outcome. Because they are so smart, and respond well to this kind of human leadership, training you Bull Terrier can be quite easy.
Exercise And Training For Bull Terriers
Exercise goes a long way in making training sessions easy and more fun for you Bull Terrier. Remember that you can incorporate all sorts of challenges and training exercises into things such as your daily walks to establish yourself as the leader, and give your Bull Terrier that sense of play and discipline at the same time.
Leash manners is a perfect example of exercise meets training. If you have a Bull Terrier attached to one of those flexi leashes and are letting them wander back and forth in front of you without paying any attention to what you are doing, then you are walking your Bull Terrier incorrectly. They need to be focused on you, your pace while walking, and your energy.
Having your Bull Terrier calm down can be a matter of how secure they feel. If they are insecure because you are not demonstrating leader qualities, this puts them in the position to take the leader role, and this can cause anxiety, leading to hyperactive behavior.
Practice having your dog heel as you walk, and practice your skills as the leader by walking calmly and with confidence so they can follow your lead and not worry about leading you.
Can Bull Terriers Be Left Alone?
Bull Terriers can be left alone, but are a breed that is very prone to separation anxiety. They are a family focused dog and are not big fans of being left by themselves. They would much rather have the company of the pack then be left to their own devices alone in the house or apartment.
Bull Terriers do have separation anxiety because of this human focused nature they have, and will require some additional training and discipline to ensure you can leave them alone for a few hours and remain calm and balanced while you are gone.
One helpful tip to avoid this separation anxiety in Bull Terriers is to schedule in their exercise before you plan to leave the home. Burning off some of their energy is a good way to alleviate some of that potential anxiety they might feel when you leave.
Training can also be done with some consistency and practice over time. I know my Staffordshire Bull Terrier had some separation anxiety at first when she was young, and we were able to slow but surely work our way out of it to the point where she is now calm and happy as can be when I step out for a little while.
This is a great video of a similar technique to what I used to reassure, reward, and calm my Staffy’s separation anxiety.
Supplementation For Separation Anxiety
Another possible option available to calm down your Bull Terriers separation anxiety, or anxiety in general is CBD for Bull Terriers. This is something that you should discuss with your vet, and not a go to solution for a high energy puppy.
This would be more helpful to older adult dogs that still are unable to remain calm when left alone. I have written about the various brands and types of CBD for dogs available with a breakdown on prices and quality, I would suggest you have a look to get a little more information.
When it comes to the question of do Bull Terriers ever calm down, I think we have covered a variety of reasons not only why they seem to be hyper, and how to manage that energy. Your Bull Terrier will calm down if you follow some of the exercise, and training recommendations I have talked about.
Baring some sort of OCD or neurological disorder causing hyperactive behavior, some or all of these techniques and routines can lead to a balanced, calm and happy dog. Be consistent in your leadership, take the time to manage your dog’s energy, keep things disciplined, challenging and fun, and you will reap the rewards of a fantastic Bull Terrier for years to come.