French Bulldogs can be a difficult breed to live with if we don’t understand their character and their needs.
This is a blog about the behaviour of two entirely separate dogs who were behaving in a similar way.
They were biting people within the families they live with.
French Bulldogs are a bull breed and they remain full of character and tenacity. I read this description on dogtime.com:
“French Bulldogs make wonderful watchdogs, but they can become territorial. They also like being the center of attention, which can lead to behavioral problems if they are overindulged.”
That is a description that sums up, not only French Bulldogs but every dog I work with. What is does not point out is the potential behaviours over indulgence can lead to and the lengths some dogs will go to to get attention or to try and control a situation or interaction with which they are not coping.
Biting is a good example of this type of behaviour, a dog that bites is nearing the end of its tether, it is running out of ideas and ways to try and communicate that something is not working ad that the people around the dog have not spotted the earlier, less obvious signs that the dog is not coping.
The levels of attention the dog is subjected to, the level of stimulation during the attention and the duration of the stimulation are all major factors in how a dog behaves and we have a tendency to over stimulate at too high a level for far too long and this can take a dog past their coping threshold. If repeated often enough, the dog is, at some point, going to have to try and communicate they are not coping.
It can be an easy thing to miss, especially as we are conditioned to think our dogs want to be stimulated, that they enjoy it and they need it. This is often not the case. Our dogs do love the attention, they don’t always enjoy how it is delivered and for how long.
The two French Bulldogs in question is this blog were both very stimulated when I entered their respective houses and they showed the usual excited behaviours. Once they realised they didn’t need to behave in that way to get attention, they soon made the choice to stop and relax.
Frenchies can also be argumentative. If you tell them off, they can stand their ground, they can even argue with you because you have entered into that discussion which means they have your attention.
The same can apply if you try and take something off them they shouldn’t have, they will become possessive because whatever they have has got your attention so they will want to keep hold of it because it works.
If the item has no value and poses no risk to your dog, walk away and ignore. When your dog relaises the item cannot be used to control your attention, it will lose its perceived value and will get dropped but you will need to be patient.
Your dog will try to control and manipulate, they are sufficiently intelligent to do that and they are very motivated by attention which is why you have to make sure you are in control of your attention and you use it wisely.
Old habits die hard and they did resort to their old behaviours but soon realised these no longer generated their expected response so they returned to relaxation.
These behavioural changes were only possible because the owners were prepared to change their behaviour and to change their behaviour for good, not for a short time but for the long term and for the benefit of their dog.
It can be a very difficult thing to do, to control our own beliefs and our own desires to lavish excitable attention on our dogs because we love them so much. Our dogs love us and they do need to know how much we love them but there are ways of doing that that actually suit your dog much better but the problem is we might not find that way as pleasing for us.
We have to stop being selfish and only doing what we want or feel the need to do and we have to look at what our dog wants and needs as there is a balance and a compromise to be found that will suit you both.
If you are prepared to compromise and change your behaviour, your dog will be just as happy to do the same and you can have a more balanced and relaxed life together.
If you are not prepared to change, then your dog will not see the need to do so either.
It requires patience, usually in short supply, persistence, very difficult to control ourselves and accurate repetition as we all learn through repetition.
The choice is yours, yes there are some dogs who won’t change and there are plenty of people who won’t. There is no fix all but that should not stop you trying. You will learn a great deal if you try.