American Bulldogs are very people oriented as with most Bull breeds and make wonderful family companions. Being large dogs they need to spread out on their beds so we would suggest a single duvet folded in two or four so they can know their place and stretch out or curl up as their heart desires. They may chose to hog your sofa and that discussion should be had on the outset!
When fostering an American Bulldog we would advise you already have dog experience to hand as a family. Ideally experience with the breed, the Mastiff or Rottie or a similar large breed dog as you need to have command and maintain command. You will need training skills to achieve your foster dog’s attention, co-operation and be able to give positive reinforcement of behaviours. We will match you with a dog we know most about so we are able to gauge where your nerves or concerns lie as they reflect on the dog as do we with all first foster placements. You’ll need patience and understanding as to the predicament a foster dog is in within a strange environment with newly introduced people and try to put them at ease.
American Bulldogs are active when we are active and just lay around when we are involved with more sedimentary activities. They love to follow you and be involved in what ever task you have set your mind to. You can work from home with an American Bulldog lying down on their bed in your study, but start your gardening and they are standing or sitting watching your every move and walking with you to get your tools out the shed. They can be crate trained but if you use a crate then usually we would recommend an open crate and one that is large enough for them to easily stand up and lie down in with a water bowl clipped to the side or just outside. We would not like to see a large dog crate used close for more than an hour, with exception like customising cat to dog or running small children.
House training is so much easier where there is easy access to a garden. American Bulldogs dogs are likely to want you to go out there with them, offer them privacy as with any dog but be aware enough to immediately praise them as they relieve themselves. Prolonged kennelling can involve a dog’s housetraining needing to be broken down so they learn to relieve themselves in their kennel run. Housetraining often returns promptly on return or may need a praise orientated ‘hype aware’ programme where they are given lots of opportunities and then the ‘get’ it and are going to the exit to indicate need. They go outside, do their business and come right back in. We never say bad dog, we never make a big issue of initial ‘accidents’, better to ignore and clean aware, most dogs are embarrassed to see you clear their mess. American Bulldogs are very intelligent and thrive on praise. Male dogs will mark initially and this should be tolerated first day as they do need to place their scent in their new ‘den’
These dogs are beautiful; have an incredible presence and will attract people. Strangers should be told how to approach and put your foster dog at ease and gain their permission and submission. Your foster dog should take their lead from you, if you haven’t seen them with children, then until you really know the dog and can read their relaxed receptive stance as opposed to their apprehensive stance. It’s better not to have people directly approaching outside, especially children.
American Bulldogs are individual personalities; they smile and display their approval. We don’t follow the dominance theory or read dogs’ behaviour in these terms. Very often so-called dominance is simply play overtures and natural ways of relating. We need to be the commander and leader but that comes with ‘best friend and trusted person/people’. Am Bulls are playful and love to chase things, balls, frisbees, sticks, empty water bottles, anything really! American Bulldogs can salivate, slobber and drip water on the floor when they drink and shed little white hairs all year long. They need to have respect of kitchen surfaces; their food always goes in their bowl unless you are asking them to sit to receive their reward. Treats should always be earned and give pleasure in the bonding relationship between dog and their treat giver.
Never leave in a hot car, this goes for any dog. Always have windows a little open to create air circulation but not enough that the public can poke their hands through as they might be judged as intrusive. Usually those who are relaxed around this breed know how to relax an Am Bull; those who are not, will tend to respect and avoid.