Staffordshire bull terriers and other bullbreeds can often be overlooked in rescues. Staffies and staffie crosses are the most popular breed in this country. However, they are also the most misunderstood and misrepresented in the press. There can be a lot of negative talk about bullbreeds and other so called ‘status dogs’ however, looking beyond the headlines and radio phone in debates you will find a different story. You will find a breed of dog who are incredibly loving and giving to people. They are gentle and kind with just the right amount of excited and silly thrown in to the mix. The staffie has been tarred with a reputation they did not ask for or deserve. They have become mixed up in a society that loves to demonise the disadvantaged and misunderstood. Here at HULA we are celebrating all things Bullie as we know just how Love–a–Bull they are.
So you are considering whether a bullbreed might be right for you and would like to know if you are compat-a-bull?
Staffies and other bullbreeds make excellent family pets. Staffies were originally known as the nanny dog because of their reputation for being nurturing and gentle with children. If you are looking to take on a dog from HULA animal Rescue they will have been assessed and an age of children they can live with will have been worked out.
Bullbreed types are often suited to busier, urban environments where other breeds can struggle with the hustle and bustle so they can be compat-a-bull with modern living.
Energy levels tend to differ between individuals as they do with many breeds. Some staffies and bull breeds are happy to have a potter round the park and then snooze the day away on the settee where others love to be out and about and on the go and require longer walks. One thing many bull breeds have in common is a thirst for mental stimulation and daily mental challenges. They like to have their brain kept active and busy and love little challenges such as being fed from an activity toy like a kong or learning new tricks.
Are bull breeds Train–a–Bull?
I suppose we would firstly need to start by saying that as with any breed or type of dog there are always individual differences. Just like people there are some dogs within a breed who excel at learning and there are others who could not give a hoot and will switch off as soon as you try to teach them anything!
Some bullbreeds can have a reputation for being stubborn when it comes to learning new things, however, the key is motivation. If you can unlock what motivates your bullie you will also unlock the ability to show them that learning and working is fun and will benefit them!
Individuals are motivated by different things, often with bullbreeds they love their toys (and can be famous for needing hard wearing ones as they can love them a bit too much!). Using toys as rewards for learning new things or as a nice consequence to good behaviour can be an excellent way to tap in to your dogs potential. Bullbreeds and staffie types often love playing tug of war. There is some debate in the dog world about whether such high energy, competitive games are good for dogs. They can be an excellent reward, for example for recall training and can drain mental and physical energy. However, they can also increase adrenalin quickly and cause dogs to lose their self control. Using toys in a high energy and competitive way means that your bullbreed dog needs a very good ‘off’ switch such as a ‘leave’ or ‘drop’ command. A good dog trainer will be able to show you how to work through the stages to teach this which will in turn also benefit their self control and tolerance of frustration.
Many bullbreeds love their food and high value food rewards can be fantastic for teaching new things. Some people can be averse to using food rewards as they feel it is bribery. However, rewards and bribery are very different things and rewarding a dog with a treat from your pocket or bag once they have done something increases the likelihood of that behaviour being repeated in the future. Bullies also have fantastic sense of smell and using inventive delivery for food rewards such as throwing them in long grass for the dog to sniff out or using specially designed retrieval toys that smelly snacks can be hidden in can be very useful for training and draining mental energy. Just this year the first ever police sniffer staffie was trained by Avon and Somerset police.
There is an excellent book on training harder to motivate breeds called ‘When Pigs Fly! By Jan Killion
Who can resist a staffie smile? They range from a gentle smirk...
To just the wrinkling of the lips...
Then a full on, wide grin
Some Bullies even have a bit of slobber for you...
Bringing a bull breed in to your life guarantees you plenty of smiles and laughter yourself. They tend to be real comics with little quirks and ways of ensuring they will brighten your day.