Bull Terrier Behavior Problems

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Bull Terriers are intelligent dog breeds that are energetic and highly playful. They are independent thinkers who don’t follow orders blindly; these dogs require an owner to dedicate extra time and effort to get a well-disciplined dog. So, what are some of the Bull Terrier behavior problems pet owners are likely to face?

Bull Terrier Behavior Problems

Bull Terriers are a unique breed that can sense when an owner provides non-assertive training. When that happens, they slowly become rowdy, mischievous dogs that can get out of control. Other than behavioral problems that develop because of slacking on training, They also have behavioral problems that they may have genetically inherited from their parent breeds.

A brown and white Bull terrier with a black collar standing on a grass field

History of the Bull Terrier That Contributes to Its Behavioral Problems

This breed was first bred around 1835 by cross-breeding the old English Terriers and Bulldogs. Owners were looking to combine the tenacity of the Bulldog with the high speed of Terriers. During the 19th Century, breeders bred Bull Terriers for dog fights, bullfighting, and combat.

Bull Terriers inherit some behavior problems arising from this form of breeding. This cross-breed is trained to be aggressive, strong, and intimidating. However, modern Bullies are not as aggressive as those bred in the past.

Subconscious Onset Aggression (Rage Syndrome)

Although rare, your furry friend may fall victim to this condition and make your pet challenging to care for. Dogs with this condition fall victim to episodes of rage, especially when they wake up. Your dog may wake up angry, growling, and even ready to bite.

Some veterinarians believe that subconscious onset aggression is seizure-related. Most bull terriers don’t remember what they were doing once they snapped out of an aggressive episode. Your dog will switch from severe aggression to a worried, caring, sorry look on its face instantly.

Some specialists believe that how you raise your dog can impact the development of this condition. Puppies taken too early from their mother and faced hostile treatment from their owners were more likely to develop rage syndrome. Dogs with a history of abandonment issues and isolation may also portray aggression.

Other Reasons Why Your Bull Terrier May Portray Aggression

Other than the condition mentioned above, it may portray aggression because of the following reasons:

  • It may want to protect you
  • It is afraid and anxiety and using aggression to mask this
  • It is guarding “its territory”
  • It may be due to loneliness when left alone in the house
  • Lack of proper socialization

Physical activity, playtime, and training may help curb aggressive behaviors. You can hire a dog behavior expert or trainer to help you work on your dog’s aggression. Some people tend to take their furry friends to doggy classes where they can learn about such things and interact with other dogs.

Canine Compulsive Disorder

In the world of dogs, Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) is the equivalent of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in humans. CCD can manifest in your dog, particularly when spinning after its tails. Some dogs can become obsessed and chase after their tails for hours. It is humorous if your dog chases its tail for a few moments and then stops; however, it may be alarming if it does this for hours.

Sometimes you may try to touch your dog or call it; however, it may not respond. Your Bully becomes completely obsessed with chasing its tail. Even the pain of injuring themselves ceases to deter them from hunting at their tail. Your dog may also consistently portray CCD behaviors by walking up and down while barking.

Some studies suggest that individual dogs were prone to developing this condition if they were neglected or taken away from their mother too early as a puppy. CCD can be mild in some dogs and severe in others. Some, however, may not exhibit obsessive behaviors or symptoms of Canine Compulsive Disorders in their lifetime.

A brown and white Bull terrier playing with a green toy on a grass field


Trancing is when your dog walks under something like a plant or a low-hanging tablecloth and goes into a trance-like state. This behavior is also called ghost walking. The dog gets triggered into the trance when materials touch the top of its head, neck, and back.

Your dog can phase out and creep slowly while the low-hanging laundry caresses its back. It’s like they get lost in another world. This behavior should not alarm you because they eventually fall out of the trance; they also respond with a slight wag of head tilt when called by their owner while in a trance.

The “Zoomies”

Bull terriers have a tone of energy reserves that randomly accumulate in their body during the day. Sometimes your dog may experience a sudden need to expel a burst of energy. They usually do this in Zoomies, where your dog suddenly bursts into high speed and zips around the house or garden.

For a few moments, it’s almost as if your dog is on a crazy energy outburst. Your dog may collide with your feet or crush into furniture in the house while zooming around. You could try to exhaust your furry friend with plenty of playtime and exercise to alleviate the chances of them having sudden energy bursts.

Pretending to Be Dumb

As hilarious as it sounds, Bull Terriers are smart enough to play dumb. Bullies are exceptionally intelligent, independent and capable of seizing opportunities if they notice you slacking. This breed can pretend not to understand something they are pros at doing to get their way.

Your dog will benefit from consistent training that makes it understand how much you mean when you ask them to do something. They can be manipulative and dominant if you don’t maintain adequate and proper training. Using quality treats while training can help alleviate their stubbornness only just so much.

Rough Playing

These dogs love to play rough: as a matter of fact, the temptation to play rough is too strong in them. They can be energetic and fun dogs to run and play around with; however, sometimes, they can go overboard. Your dog may charge at you fast and almost knock you over or hurt you.

They make great outdoor companions who keep you active and busy. However, playing with them indoors can be a bit hazardous. You must train your dog to play gently and calmly to avoid accidents.

Bull Terrier’s Calmness in Interactions

With Family It depends on how the family dynamics are at home or with other people it interacts with. It can be playful and aloof or calm. Most of the time, they tend to be affectionate with family and can get aggressive when it feels a threat.
With Children Bull Terriers are somewhat calm around children. However, you still need to be wary especially when your child has little interaction with dogs.
With Strangers As long as the stranger doesn’t feel like a threat, Bull terriers tend to be calm and open toward them.
With Other Dogs Bull Terriers aren’t friendly with other dogs. It’s their protective instinct that kicks in and they start to get aggressive. Don’t expect your dog to be calm most of the time.

How to Train Your Bull Terrier to Deal With Behavior Problems

Most behavior problems in Bull Terriers are inherited from their parents. However, you can do a few things to mitigate these behaviors and make your dog more disciplined.

Start Socialization Early

Getting your Bull Terrier puppy exposed to as many social situations as possible from a young puppy age can help reduce its aggression. They are friendly and love everyone; however, they can be aggressively protective of their owners in some situations.

Socializing your dog with your household, friends, and people on the road will help them characterize the features of an innocent “good person.” Proper socialization will, in turn, help them be able to notice people with suspicious behavior around and alert you.

When on walks, socialize your dog with people on the way and in the park. Control your dog on a short leash. I’m worried about fights with other dogs, you can have him wear a basket muzzle until he gets used to the environment.

A white and brown Bull terrier playing with a blue stuffed toy on a grass field

Raise Your Bull Terrier With Love and Affection

Most Bull Terriers’ behavior results from how their owners raised them. Show your puppy some gentle care and warmth as you raise it to be a friendly dog. You should be able to interact with your dog daily until you have a sort of understanding with your pet.

Ensure Your Bull Terrier Respects the Relationship Dynamic

You need to take charge and raise a disciplined loving pet. If you slack on training, your dog will take charge. These dogs have a higher chance of being uncontrollably aggressive if their owners let them have their way every time.

You can reward them for good behavior such as obeying you. However, you should be careful so that you are not bribing them to behave well.

Provide Enough Exercise and Mental Stimulation

If you are planning on leaving this dog indoors all day alone while you are away at work, then this breed may prove challenging for you. Bull Terriers need a lot of exercise, playtime, and mental stimulation through training.

Bull terriers are great family dogs for homesteads with a big backyard where the children and your dog can run and play around. They require one to two hours of exercise every day, during which you can carry out some training sessions. If they become bored because of a lack of stimulation and exercise, they can become destructive in the house.

You can invest in mentally stimulating games for your dog to play when you are not around. This way, it will not become destructive or develop separation anxiety or other behavioral problems. Your vet can recommend some that are good for your dog.

Related Questions

Are Bull Terriers Calm?

Bull Terriers are calm most of the time and sweet-tempered. Some have aggressive tendencies though, especially if untrained. They are often mistaken for aggressive because of their active and rowdy goofball personalities.

Are Bull Terriers Well Behaved?

Bull Terriers are generally well-behaved. They are gentle and playful towards family members and great as guard dogs. However, it’s still best to be cautious around strangers, children, and other animals.

Why Do Bull Terriers Get Aggressive?

Bull Terriers can get aggressive if they are not socialized at a young age. The lack of physical activity is also another reason. It needs an outlet to release its energy build-up which usually is in the form of rage and aggression.


Bull Terriers keep their owners’ lives interesting. They are super active and can be mischievous if left on their own. This pet is sweet, affectionate, and needs plenty of attention. Establish a balanced relationship with your dog and you will enjoy being a dog parent.