Why Are Bulldogs So Stubborn? – How To Deal With Them

Bulldogs are one of the most popular dogs in the world. They are a dominant breed that likes to have things in their way. But why are Bulldogs so stubborn?

Bulldogs are very stubborn by nature. They are so famous for this trait that people joke about them suffering from “selective hearing”. If you are a Bulldog owner, you need to know how to deal with this behavior.

The Bulldog Personality

The Bulldog is a kind and friendly dog that is perfect to have in any home. It has a reputation for being a very courageous dog and people consider it a great watchdog. But Bulldogs don’t bark a lot and are not very aggressive. They are a calm, easygoing, and affectionate dog breed.

One part of the Bulldog personality is the inherited knack for stubbornness. The Bulldog is often referred to have “selective hearing”. This is because it will listen to you only when it has benefits from that. If you try to teach it a new command it will ignore you, but as soon as you mention treats it will come running to you. This makes the Bulldogs slow learners but their memory is quite good.

Why Your Bulldog Might Be Stubborn

Even if you have trained your Bulldog well, it might become stubborn for a number of reasons.

It Has Pent Up Energy

If you’ve left your Bulldog without its needed daily exercise, it will need to release that energy somehow. Make sure to give your Bulldog at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. This can be a simple walk to the dog park or playing in the yard. You can tire it out so it doesn’t act out.

You’re Not Assertive

If you’re dealing with a stubborn Bulldog, you need to be dominant and assertive. This means that you should establish yourself as the leader in the household. Set up strict rules when training your dog and make sure it follows them. That way you will be sure it will listen to you.

You Have Misunderstandings

You need to be clear and precise in your commands, so your Bulldog will know what exactly to do. This is an important part of training your dog. From its early days, you should set clear rules and commands so you don’t just confuse your pup in the future.

There Are Distractions

Bulldogs can be easily distracted. You might notice that while you are training, it doesn’t listen to you but instead is doing something else. To prevent this, remove all distractions like toys or people that might get the attention of your dog while you are training.

Health Problems

You might catch your Bulldog being stubborn whenever it suffers from some illness. It might just be focusing on the pain and it doesn’t listen to you. Bulldogs can suffer from many health issues like ear infections, diarrhea, skin problems, breathing problems, and mobility problems.

You Don’t Reward Properly

Make sure you are not rewarding the negative behavior of your Bulldog, even if you think it’s cute sometimes. Whenever you train, get some treats and give them only when it listens to you. This way you will make sure that the training works and your Bulldog listens.

Anxiety Or Stress

Your Bulldog might be too anxious or stressed to respond to your commands. Try to find out the reason why it feels anxious and see if there’s anything you can do to fix that. Maybe stop the training for that day and let your dog relax in its own safe space. You can use valerian root to calm your dog.

How Do You Deal With A Stubborn Bulldog?

No one wants to deal with someone stubborn. Here are a few things you should try to prevent stubbornness in your Bulldog.

Use Treats

Treats are a great way to get your Bulldog’s attention. If you get it focused on the treat it is sure to follow your command to get it. 

Choose the treat based on things your dog likes. Usually, this would be a meaty snack that your dog doesn’t get to have often.

To train your Bulldog, get the treat in your non-dominant hand and leave your dominant hand open for guiding. Guide with that hand while giving the command and lure your pup with the treat. You can teach your Bulldog to “sit” and “lie down” at first and then go for more complicated commands.

Practice Positive Reinforcement

If you want to know how to train a stubborn Bulldog, you need to know what positive reinforcement is. The process of rewarding after your dog does something good is called positive reinforcement.

This process will teach your dog that good behavior can be awarded so it stimulates it to repeat the behavior again.

Most often, you will see people using treats as a way to reinforce this positive behavior. But you can use other things too. Praising your dog, giving it a new toy, belly rubs, playtime, or just taking it for a walk can be a way to reward its positive behavior.

Daily Exercise And Short Training Sessions

Bulldogs are an active breed and they need to spend their energy throughout the day. So make sure to give at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

A Bulldog that doesn’t get to spend its energy might become destructive and grumpy. If you are dealing with a grumpy and stubborn Bulldog, take it out for a walk. Try to tire it out so it doesn’t become restless in the evening.

You should also consider doing short but effective training sessions. You Bulldog might get aggravated if they take too long. So shorten them to 5-10 minutes and repeat at another time in the day.

Try Crate Training

Crates can be used in a good way to train your dog. The dog crate is a safe environment that allows your dog to have its own personal space. 

Make sure to use this crate for a short “time out” session if the dog is misbehaving. If you catch your dog being stubborn and doing something you don’t like, strike up a firm “no”, and take it to its crate. You can leave it there for around 10 minutes so the negative feelings get sorted out.

Once you get your dog out of the dog crate, do a short pause. Then you can return to your usual activities.

Get Some Dog Toys

Are Bulldogs known to be stubborn? Yes. But there are many ways to fix this. One of those ways is toys. They will catch your dog’s attention quickly and can be used as a lure for positive reinforcement.

There are a few types of toys you can get for your dog. The classic ones are the dog chew toys designed to be sturdy when your dog chews them and are good for its teeth. There are also chew toys that squeak so they are fun to play with.

Puzzle toys are great for mentally stimulating your Bulldog and developing its problem-solving skills. Whatever you get, your dog will love you for it.

A stubborn Bulldog

Give Tasks Or Obstacle Courses

Another way to deal with a stubborn Bulldog is to give it something to do. Consider playing a game like fetch, and actually expect your dog to fetch it for you.

Maybe set up a “treasure hunt” in your home and send your dog on it. Hide away a few treats all around the house and send your Bulldog to search for them. They will fill up their time and still have a snack at the end.

You could also take your dog to an obstacle course. It’s good for keeping your dog active and flexible. And it’s also training its mind with it.

Socialize More

You should start early with socializing your Bulldog puppy from a young age. Socializing your dog with other people and dogs will make it easier for it to calm down and learn about life.

A non-socialized dog can become anxious whenever it sees someone new. You will get an aggressive growling Bulldog that will start excessively barking at everyone.

You can take it to the dog park where it will be around more dogs. They will teach your dog about certain behaviors and it will be less anxious whenever it meets new dogs or people. It will see how other dogs act around their owners and try to copy that behavior.

Set A Routine

Try setting a routine for your Bulldog to provide stability and clear expectations from it. That way your dog will feel more confident and safe because it has a routine to follow.

If your dog doesn’t know what is expected of it or doesn’t have an idea of what comes next it will create uncertainty. Because of this, it might get anxious and afraid.

Make sure to set up a feeding time, nap time, walk time, and playtime so it will know around what time it should be ready. You don’t have to follow this strictly but try to be as precise as possible.

Ignore Bad Behavior

Are Bulldogs hard to train? Yes. But you should be patient. Don’t go harshly punishing your dog for being stubborn. There are better ways to discipline your dog.

So a good way to promote good behavior is with positive reinforcement. But a good way to punish bad behavior is to ignore your dog.

Any time your dog acts stubborn or doesn’t act according to your commands stop with what you are doing. Give it a firm “no” and pause to ignore it. This will teach it that what it is doing is wrong and it will start doing it less.

Remove All Distractions

Sometimes you will have your Bulldog being stubborn not because of stubbornness, but because of a distraction.

Maybe it saw a squirrel outside and it wants to chase after it. Maybe the mailman is approaching the door and it wants to chase them away. Whatever the reason is, your Bulldog might be incentivized to leave the training session and do something more urgent.

This is why you need to make sure that no one is going to distract your dog while you are training. You should also try to make the training fun and engaging so it doesn’t distract itself so easily.

So Why Are Bulldogs So Stubborn?

Bulldogs can be stubborn because of a lot of reasons. They have inherited their stubbornness because they are bred for dominant dogs. In fact, they are said to have “selective hearing”.

Your Bulldog might be stubborn because you’re not training it right. You don’t reward properly, you are not clear enough, you are not assertive, or you let it get distracted. It also may be anxious, full of energy, or suffering from a health problem.

If your Bulldog is stuborn you should use positive reinforcement with treats and toys. Set a routine and remove all distractions. Do some exercise before you train and socialize more.

But remember that even though Bulldogs can be stubborn, they are also loving dogs that will fit right into your family. You just have to train them right.


Are Bulldogs a dominant breed?

Being dominant and aggressive is a natural part of the Bulldog personality. They were originally bred as herding dogs. But this behavior has been bred out over time and you can train your Bulldog not to be aggressive.

Should you spank your Bulldog for bad behavior? 

No. With physical punishment you will send an unclear message to your dog and hurt it in the process. The only thing you will manage is to create more anxiety and aggression.

Do Bulldogs turn on their owners?

We know why are Bulldogs so stubborn but they can sometimes get aggressive. Even though they are a calm breed if you provoke them, they can resort to attacking and biting.

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