Breathtaking First 12 Months of a [Better] Bulldog Puppy
Putting Your Bulldog to Work
When your Bulldog reaches 10 or 11 months, he’s ready to start practicing canine sports like agility, carting, and obedience. The two of you have a lot of choices of activities you can do together, and he’ll relish having a job to do, exercising his mind and body while building his skills.
Meanwhile, prepare yourself for his adventures by establishing a pet disaster preparedness plan. You also can begin taking him with you when you travel.
Your Bulldog puppy might reach his full height this month, but his still-growing bones aren’t strong nor fully developed yet. Continue to limit his running on hard surfaces, and don’t let him jump for a few more months.
His teeth are almost fully in and not as painful as they have been. They’ll continue to develop strength until he’s 3 years old, so he’ll chew during that time as well.
He’ll also start looking more coordinated this month as his proportions even out and he gets comfortable using his adult height and body. He’ll dive into activities with great enthusiasm—in fact, he’ll be hard to hold back!
This month, we show you how to plan ahead for your puppy’s care in case of natural disasters. We also look at anal gland care, an unpleasant but important subject. Additionally, we review inherited health challenges that might arise as your Bulldog matures.
Planning for Disasters
Most likely, you have an emergency plan in place for your family. It should include provisions for your Bulldog’s health and safety, too, if it doesn’t already. When disaster hits and you have to evacuate, you might not be allowed back into your neighborhood for days, so always take your dog with you—always. Leaving him in the house or turning him loose could be a death sentence for him.
Some Red Cross evacuation shelters allow dogs, but most don’t. During a crisis, hotels might relax their pet policies, and places that do allow pets will require them to be crated.
Before a disaster strikes, make a list of pet-friendly hotels, boarding kennels, and veterinarians within 100 miles of your home. You don’t know how far you’ll have to travel when you’re forced to leave, and it’s best to be prepared with locations you know you can go to with your pup.
Also line up friends who can take your dog in an emergency. And be sure to make arrangements with a neighbor to evacuate your dog if disaster strikes while you aren’t at home.
If you live in an area at risk for floods or hurricanes, purchase a neon-colored life vest made especially for dogs and put it on him when bad weather strikes. If you get separated from your Bulldog in a disaster, he’ll be easier for rescuers to spot if he’s wearing a bright vest.
If you have a two-story home, buy a canine evacuation harness similar to the ones used by search-and-rescue organizations. Keep it under your bed so if a fire breaks out downstairs, you can lower your dog out the window to safety.
Practice putting these devices on your Bulldog when everything is calm because in a disaster, you’ll be fumbling and in a hurry. Be sure the vest and harness fit and can support his weight.
If you can’t evacuate, plan a safe area within your house. If it’s a basement or similar room, be sure no hazardous materials are nearby that can harm your dog. As soon as you know a storm is coming, find your dog, be sure he’s wearing his leash and collar, and keep him indoors with you. Frightened animals often wander away during the commotion and become disoriented. Then, after the storm has passed, nothing looks or smells the same, and your dog might not be able to find his way home.
During disasters, keep a leash on your Bulldog, even when he’s in the car, and keep him crated as much as possible. He’ll be as anxious as you are, he’ll feel safer in his crate, and you won’t have to worry about keeping track of him. After the crisis passes, keep your dog leashed and with you until you’re home and safe.
Your Bulldog will adjust better to the stress of emergencies or travel if he’s already used to spending time in his crate.
When planning your dog-friendly disaster kit, include the following:
Your dog’s microchip and license information, your contact info, emergency caretaker phone numbers, your dog’s medical records, a photo of your dog, and feeding and care instructions, all inside a waterproof bag or container
Extra leash, trash bags, poop scoop supplies, and towels
Food and water bowls
Food and water for 3 days
His crate, marked with your cell phone number and emergency contact info
Calming medication or herbal/flower formula, like Rescue Remedy or chamomile tea bags to add to your dog’s water
Medications, including heartworm and flea control products
Store your kit in an outdoor shed, near an exit door where it’s easily accessible, or in your car.
Anal Gland Care
The anal glands, also called anal sacs, are two tiny glands just inside your dog’s anus. The fluid in these glands contains pheromones, and when a dog defecates, the pressure of firm stool pressing against the glands expels the fluid. The pheromones enable other dogs to “read” the feces (using their Jacobson’s organ located in their nose) for information about the other dog’s age, gender, and sexual status.
A problem arises when a dog has soft stool or diarrhea that doesn’t force the glands to empty. If the soft stool continues for too long, you need to work with your veterinarian to figure out what’s causing the bowel problem.
Other issues that cause the anal glands to become impacted include inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, allergies that make your dog scratch and chew at his anus, or infection. A small minority of dogs has improperly positioned anal glands; in some cases, surgical removal is the only option.
If you see your Bulldog scooting his butt on the ground, biting at his rear, sitting in an odd position, or acting like he’s in discomfort, suspect impacted anal sacs. If his anal glands are impacted, your veterinarian can express them during an office visit. No sedation is needed.
Occasionally, in a highly stressful situation, your dog might suddenly expel the anal sac fluid. You’ll know when this happens because the smell is extremely offensive.
A healthy dog doesn’t need to have his anal glands emptied for him. In fact, emptying the sacs too often causes trauma to the ducts, closing the anal glands so they can no longer expel fluid on their own. Don’t have the procedure done unless your dog actually needs it.
Inherited Bulldog Health Challenges
In recent years, researchers have made great strides identifying the genetic components of inherited diseases in Bulldogs, and breeders have worked hard to eliminate these problems. But testing isn’t available yet for every inherited health issue.
You might have received copies of health clearances for your puppy’s parents from your breeder (see Months 1 and 2), so you know your Bulldog has a lower risk of developing some of these conditions.
If you didn’t get clearances, here are the diseases, their symptoms, and their treatments:
Eye abnormalities: Entropion and ectropion are inherited defects of the eyelid. In entropion, the edge of the eyelid turns inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against and irritate the cornea. In ectropion, the eyelid rolls outward, exposing the eye surface to irritation. Either of these defects can be surgically corrected.
Distichiasis is a condition where your dog has extra eyelashes.
If your puppy’s eyes are always runny or he has tearstains on his face, have your vet examine his eyes to rule out these problems.
Heart disease: The most common heart condition affecting Bulldogs is pulmonary stenosis, which can be diagnosed when a Bulldog is very young, although symptoms might not appear until the dog is an adult.
Pulmonary stenosis is a narrowing of the connection between the right ventricle (chamber) of the heart and the pulmonary artery, which leads to the lungs, that makes the heart work harder to pump blood. Dogs with mild cases of pulmonary stenosis rarely show symptoms and can live a normal life.
Hip or elbow dysplasia: Research has shown that overly rapid growth and obesity, in addition to genetics, play a role in whether your dog develops hip or elbow dysplasia. Puppies don’t exercise as hard as adults and don’t carry a lot of weight, so symptoms in a severely affected dog might not show up until he reaches his full adult size and arthritis develops.
Dysplasia ranges from mild to severe. Most Bulldogs are naturally dysplastic to some extent and never show symptoms, like gait abnormalities or holding their elbows at an unusual angle, but some develop arthritis in their middle years, between 5 and 8 years old.
Owners can take steps to make their Bulldogs more comfortable, such as avoiding high-impact activities like jogging or anything else painful for the dog. Walking, swimming, and other low-impact exercises can help build muscle mass, and anti-inflammatory drugs can ease the pain. Many people give their dogs supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to lubricate joints and ease the arthritic symptoms.
Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include low activity level, weight gain, thinning hair, and thickened skin due to fluid retention. Your veterinarian will run a blood test to diagnose the disease.
Hypothyroidism isn’t curable, but it is manageable. An affected dog will have to take an inexpensive daily pill for the rest of his life but should suffer from few, if any, symptoms when treated.
Hyperuricosuria (HUU): This is an inherited urinary tract disease that causes elevated acid levels in the urine, which can lead to bladder or kidney stones. Males are more commonly affected.
A dog with stones will have trouble urinating and may have blood in his urine. The condition can be treated surgically.
TIPS AND TAILS
This list of genetically inherited conditions sounds scary, but don’t panic. Careful breeding in recent years has greatly reduced the chances your dog will be affected. By learning about these diseases, you’ll recognize any symptoms that may show up in your puppy and be able to get him treatment before he becomes seriously ill.
Your Bulldog might be perfectly healthy on a diet of dry food, but other options and supplements are available. As you ponder the multitude of choices at the pet store, you might worry you aren’t doing enough for your beloved pup.
The best advice is, if it works, don’t try to “fix” it. If your Bulldog has a healthy and shiny coat, clear eyes, and healthy skin; if he’s the appropriate weight; and if he enjoys good health, he probably doesn’t need anything added to his diet. This might change as he ages, but Bulldogs can live long, healthy lives by eating a diet based on a quality dry dog food.
Looking Beyond Dry Food
Should you add canned or semimoist foods to his meals? Or should you feed him wet food exclusively? Maybe you’d like to give him a daily bowl of wet food as a treat. Dogs certainly seem to love it.
Canned dog food contains up to 78 percent water, which helps fill up your dog. It also usually includes more protein, fat, and animal-based ingredients and less grain than dry dog food. Overall, the ingredients are usually better quality than you’ll find in most dry foods, but read the ingredients on the label to be sure, and look for named meats and minimal grain. The nuggets, chunks, and other shapes you see in some canned foods aren’t actually meat. They’re formed from textured plant proteins or sometimes (although rarely) natural meat tissues. Some foods also contain “vegetables” that look like carrots and peas. These might be real or artificially colored and shaped.
Feeding your dog canned food has advantages. If your Bulldog has kidney problems or is constipated, he’ll need extra moisture, and canned food is one way to provide it. In addition, canned food contains fewer preservatives because the can is an oxygen-free environment, which, when properly sealed, does not allow bacteria to grow. (Be sure to refrigerate leftovers to avoid spoilage.) Canned food is more expensive, however, so you probably won’t want to feed him an exclusively canned diet.
Semimoist foods, usually packaged in foil packets, contain lots of additives, particularly sugar, for taste and to solidify the food. These are generally the least-healthy diets you can feed your pup. Although semimoist foods contain more moisture than dry food—about 25 to 30 percent—they’re extremely expensive in comparison. Reserve semimoist food for treats, if you use it at all.
What About Nutritional Supplements?
If your puppy is eating a quality dog food and is in good health, you don’t need to add supplements to his diet. In fact, too much supplementation can throw his system out of balance and cause health problems. But once in a while, supplements can be beneficial to your dog’s health.
Owners who feed raw or home-cooked diets need to give their dog supplements to be sure he’s getting the vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients he needs.
Work with your vet or consult a nutritionist to determine when and how to add supplements to your dog’s diet because some can interfere with medications he’s taking. And be sure you use products specifically meant for dogs because a dog’s nutritional needs are different from a human’s.
Nutritional supplements are not subject to evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration for their purity, safety, or ability to improve your dog’s health, and not all supplements are necessarily equal or risk free. So do some research before you buy, and purchase only brands you trust. The National Animal Supplement Council (nasc.cc) certifies manufacturers’ products and awards a seal of quality to those that meet their standards of safety, quality, and accuracy.
TIPS AND TAILS
If you feel your dog needs supplements with his food, consider switching to a different or better-quality food rather than oversupplement. Most of the supplements discussed in this section are already included in commercial dog foods.
Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that can bolster your Bulldog’s immune response to harmful bacteria in his intestinal tract. Probiotics are an important contributor to your puppy’s overall health because 70 percent of a puppy’s immune system is found in his digestive tract. When added to your dog’s diet, probiotics help return his system to a normal state by restoring the balance between good and bad bacteria.
Many things can affect your dog’s gastrointestinal health. Eating a poor-quality diet, consuming unclean water, eating feces or grass, or ingesting fertilizers or pesticides all can introduce bacteria to the gut that throw it off balance and lead to problems like diarrhea and incomplete food absorption. Stress caused by a change in routine, such as travel or boarding, can be a factor as well. Diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, or kidney disease also can affect the balance of bacteria in his body. Antibiotics and cortisone can kill good bacteria along with bad bacteria, and for this reason, some veterinarians prescribe probiotics for your dog if he’s on antibiotics.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E; beta-carotene; and other compounds help support your puppy’s immune system and protect him from disease. Antioxidants protect cells against the effects of free radicals, which cause cellular damage and are produced when the body breaks down food or is exposed to pollution, cigarette smoke, or other environmental toxins. You might want to add antioxidants to your dog’s diet if he’s suffering from cancer or heart disease, but always check with your veterinarian first because too much of some items can be toxic.
Digestive enzymes: These are sometimes packaged with probiotics because both affect your dog’s gastrointestinal health. Digestive enzymes break down nutrients in food so the body can absorb them. When commercial dog foods are cooked at high temperatures, these enzymes are killed and must be added back into the food. Dogs also produce their own digestive enzymes in their saliva glands, pancreas, and stomach.
Yogurt is an excellent source of digestive enzymes. Purchase some for your dog that contains live, active cultures. You can give him a spoonful as a snack or mix it in with his regular food.
A dog’s production of digestive enzymes is affected by aging, and sometimes older dogs benefit from their addition to his diet. A young, healthy Bulldog shouldn’t need these.
Bone meal: Bone meal adds calcium to the diet, which is something young Bulldogs don’t need. In fact, breeders recommend you not feed him puppy food or any dog food high in calcium because it causes orthopedic problems later in life.
Vitamin and mineral supplements: These are necessary for dogs eating home-cooked or raw food, but they’re usually unnecessary for Bulldogs eating a commercially made food. If you feel you need to give your dog additional vitamins and minerals, choose those made especially for dogs. And don’t oversupplement any vitamins or minerals because they can have toxic effects.
Fatty acids: Fatty acids must be added back to dry dog food after it has been cooked. If your dog has a dry, dull coat, a supplement in the form of fish oil or cod liver oil can provide essential fatty acids (linoleic acid) and vitamins A and D. Flaxseed is high in beneficial fatty acids, too. Some of these also are high in calories, so be careful not to give your pup too much.
Whole foods: If you give your dog whole foods to supplement his diet, you’re less likely to overdose him on any specific nutrient because his body expels the excess as it digests the food. Foods such as carrots, cottage cheese, apples, bananas, blueberries, green beans, dandelions, and kelp all provide extra nutrition. Be sure the foods you choose are beneficial and not toxic to dogs (see Appendix C).
Prepackaged whole-food supplements are also available. Missing Link is a well-known, established brand.
Glucosamine and chondroitin: Both of these substances exist naturally in the body, but when a dog has arthritis, his body might not make enough of them. Glucosamine helps build connective tissue and stimulates the growth of healthy new cartilage, and chondroitin protects joints and slows the breakdown of existing cartilage. The two supplements are usually taken together and are often added to senior formula dog foods.
It takes several weeks to see the effects, but many dogs enjoy greater mobility and less pain on these supplements.
Most dog owners are a bit more tolerant of the smells and messes their dogs make than people who don’t have dogs. By keeping your Bulldog and his bedding clean, a guest shouldn’t be able to smell a dog in your house. Still, in this section, we look at some common doggie odors and ways to combat them.
Your teenage Bulldog is pretty inquisitive, so in this section, we also help you prepare for the most obnoxious grooming chore ever: bathing a skunked dog. And because his coat can collect anything from burrs to bubblegum, we review how to remove the goo without ruining his good looks.
Dealing with Doggie Odor
Some folks are more sensitive to dog smells than others, and a Bulldog’s naturally oily skin is more prone to odor than some breeds. Still, he shouldn’t smell bad by anyone’s standards. If you do detect strong odors, they could be caused by health problems such as ear infections, tooth decay, gum disease, skin disease, or kidney problems, so your smelly pup might need a vet visit.
If your puppy rolls in something disgusting, swims in foul water, or just generally makes a stinky mess of himself, add vinegar to your rinse water when you bathe him, or use an enzymatic odor-removing shampoo like Nature’s Miracle. The skunk bath explained in the following section also works very well.
Few odors are worse than the smell of a freshly skunked dog. You let him out for a last pee of the night, and when he comes back in … ack! Run for the tomato juice!
But wait. There are more effective ways to remove the skunk smell than tomato juice, which will stain his coat. Instead, bathe your dog in a mixture of the following:
1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup baking soda
2 teaspoons Dawn dish detergent
Mix the ingredients just before using, and lather your Bulldog’s dry coat thoroughly, down to the skin, and rinse well. Be sure to keep the mixture out of his eyes because the hydrogen peroxide will burn. Use a soapy washcloth around his head, and rinse his face carefully.
You’ll know immediately if the smell is dissipating. You might have to repeat this treatment several times, so be prepared to make more of the mixture. And because the mixture doesn’t keep, always make a fresh batch.
Removing Sticky Stuff
Just like children get chewing gum in their hair, puppies get tree sap, tar, or other sticky things in their fur. Home remedies such as vegetable oil, peanut butter, and mayonnaise contain enough oil to break down the gummy texture so you can scrape or comb out the gunk and won’t irritate his skin. Commercial products like Simple Green and some orange oil cleaners are nontoxic and safe for use on pet fur.
If your Bulldog has gum in his fur, put an ice cube on the gum to harden it enough you can chip it off. Tar and tree sap or pitch may be tough to remove, so apply vegetable oil and let it soak on the area for 24 hours. (You might want to put a T-shirt on your dog so he won’t lick it off while it works.) Paint is easier to remove if you let it dry and harden and then chip it off.
Sometimes you just can’t lubricate, wash, or soak the crud out of your dog’s coat, and at these times, you’ll have to cut out the offending substance. Use blunt-nose scissors or grooming clippers, and be very careful, especially when working close to his skin. Don’t use pointed scissors because they could too easily cut him.
TIPS AND TAILS
Never use gasoline, kerosene, turpentine, or solvents on your dog. These products can severely burn his skin and are toxic if he ingests them.
Your Bulldog is a member of the family, and he’d love to tag along when your family goes on vacation. With a little preparation and planning, your best friend can get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life with you. While you’re on vacation, no one has to go to work or school or other activities, and you all have more time to relax with each other and with your puppy.
Most buses and trains won’t accept dogs, so to travel with your pup, you must go by car or airline.
Traveling by Car
When he’s in the car, restrain your Bulldog. A dog who leaps and romps around in the car can cause an accident or knock the gear shift out of gear. And as much as he might love it, don’t let him hang his head out the car window. Bugs or flying debris could hit him in the eyes and injure them. If the window is down far enough, he could jump out and be badly injured.
If you have room for it, the safest place for him is in a crate. Prevent the crate from tipping over when you go around corners by either tying it down or wedging it between your luggage.
If your car isn’t large enough for a crate, use a seatbelt harness. Special car harnesses for pets are sold, or you can make one with a harness and short leash.
However you decide to secure your dog, put him in the backseat so he won’t be injured by the airbag if you’re in an accident.
It gets hot in the back of an SUV or van, even while the car is running. As you travel, be sure your Bulldog is shielded from direct sun and has plenty of air circulation back there. Stop often to give him water and ensure he isn’t overheated. You can purchase small battery-operated camping fans to provide extra ventilation if necessary.
Flying with Your Bulldog
Most Bulldog owners avoid flying with their dogs due to the increased risks posed by heat and altitude. If you do decide to fly, know that many airlines don’t allow online reservations for pets, so call the airline directly to schedule your Bulldog’s flight. Also know that transporting a dog is expensive, and his ticket might cost as much as yours.
Your Bulldog is too large to travel in the cabin, so he’ll have to be shipped in the cargo hold. Make your reservations early because spots for pets are limited.
If you’re taking an international flight, research the regulations at your destination because there might be a long quarantine period. Hawaii, for example, has strict guidelines when it comes to bringing animals to the islands, even from the contiguous United States.
When the ground temperature is too high or too low, some airlines refuse to fly with animals, and their restrictions are even more stringent for snub-nosed dogs. Airlines usually don’t accept Bulldogs for transport in the cargo hold when the temperature is above 75°F. Try to schedule an overnight or late-night flight if you’re traveling during hot weather so you can avoid extreme heat and humidity. Also avoid traveling on holidays or weekends if you can, and try to book a nonstop or direct flight so your dog doesn’t have to switch planes.
Your Bulldog’s shipping crate must conform to the airline’s regulations and the standards developed by the International Air Transport Association. It must be sturdy plastic (not wire); properly ventilated; and large enough that he can stand, turn around, and lie down.
TIPS AND TAILS
Airline policies for traveling with pets vary, so check with your carrier for its specific requirements. To view the pet policies for specific airlines, visit pettravel.com/airline_rules.cfm.
Fasten empty food and water dishes inside the crate door so they’re accessible from outside. Also attach a sign warning airline personnel that Bulldogs are at extreme risk in the heat. Include a food and water schedule, and tape a bag of food to the outside of the kennel. Airline security will inspect your Bulldog and his belongings like any other passenger’s.
Most veterinarians and airlines recommend you don’t tranquilize your dog before flying. Tranquilizers and sedatives can affect your dog’s equilibrium, breathing, and ability to regulate his body temperature. He also might be more likely to have a bad reaction due to the altitude and change in air pressure. A fully awake dog is usually safer.
Staying at Pet-Friendly Accommodations
Plan in advance to stay at pet-friendly hotels and campgrounds. Most major chains accept dogs, but call ahead to be sure. Pet-friendly hotels might have a limited number of rooms available, while others designate their smoking rooms as dog friendly. Some hotels charge an extra fee for dogs, require a deposit against damage, or don’t accept dogs above a certain size. Many facilities offer extra amenities for dog owners, like dog day care, play yards, dog walkers, and treats.
Some hotels don’t allow guests to leave their dogs alone in their room. Housekeeping personnel might be frightened if a scary-looking dog greets them at the door, and your Bulldog could escape in the shuffle.
If you are allowed to leave your dog in the room, crate him while you’re not there to watch him. Don’t leave him alone for too long, especially if he might bark in the crate and disturb other guests. Leave the TV on to keep him company when you go out.
TIPS AND TAILS
Feed your dog in the bathroom of your hotel room so he doesn’t damage or dirty the carpets while he eats.
Don’t allow your dog to relieve himself right outside the door, where the stains and smell might offend other guests. Take him away from the building instead. Some hotels have designated pet areas or may be able to guide you to nearby dog parks or walking trails. Always pick up after him, too.
When investigating dog-friendly campgrounds and RV parks, ask if there are any size restrictions on the dogs allowed or if you have to pay extra fees to bring your pooch. Clarify if your dog is allowed in all parts of the park or if he must stay at your site. Dogs are allowed in most national parks, but they must be kept in your car, on the roadway, or in parking lots, and they aren’t allowed on hiking trails at all. National forests do allow on-leash dogs to hike on the trails. The rules vary at different facilities, so contact each one to confirm that you can bring your Bulldog with you.
To find dog-friendly accommodations, log on to PetFriendlyTravel.com, PetsWelcome.com, and DogFriendly.com. While you research hotels and campgrounds, you also can find lists of dog-friendly beaches, dog parks, and other areas and activities. Local dog day cares might let you leave your Bulldog temporarily while you spend the day at an amusement park, and some large parks, such as Disney, provide kennels for your dog to stay in while you enjoy the grounds.
TIPS AND TAILS
Remember that Bulldogs are often a target for thieves. Never leave your dog unattended in the car or tied outside a store or restaurant.
Preparing Your Dog for Travel
Before you travel with your dog, be sure he’s healthy and safe for his vacation, review his doggie manners, and take care of all the necessary precautions and requirements.
Health certificate: If you take your dog across state lines or fly him anywhere, you must carry a health certificate, a veterinarian-signed document that certifies your dog is healthy enough to travel and is current on your state’s required vaccines. (All 50 states require a rabies vaccine.) Some airlines also require an acclimation certificate, which states he’s allowed to travel when the temperature is below 45°F. Both certificates must be signed by a federally accredited veterinarian.
Identification: Be sure your puppy’s tags are securely fastened and the lettering is legible. Consider adding a tag with your cell phone number and emergency contact information on it, too. If he isn’t already microchipped, do so before you travel, and be sure he has a tag that states he’s microchipped so anyone who finds him will know to scan him. Check with your microchip registry to be sure your contact information as well as your backup information is up to date.
Heartworm preventative: If your Bulldog isn’t already on heartworm preventative, have him tested and on medication before you leave. In almost any area of the country, he’ll be exposed to heartworm, especially in the summer, when mosquitoes are common.
Training: You’ve probably already taught your dog to eliminate on different surfaces, but if he needs more work, do so before your trip. If he’s used to going on grass only, he might not want to go in a strange place or on a new surface. Many dogs who stay in kennels don’t like to relieve themselves on concrete nor where they sleep.
Review his other obedience and manners, too, and practice skills like sitting to greet people, leave it, and walking nicely on leash. Refresh his memory so he’ll wait to jump out of the car or go through a door. He could get lost if he rushes off when you’re in a strange place.
Also revisit his crate training if you haven’t been using it much. He might have to spend more time in the crate—in the car, in a hotel room, on a plane, or at your host’s home—while you’re on vacation, and he should feel comfortable and safe in it.
TIPS AND TAILS
Teach your pup to eliminate on cue, and give it a name, like “Go potty,” or “Hurry.” Praise and give him a treat when he goes, and he’ll soon associate the word with the action, making your rest stops much shorter.
It’s inconvenient, if not impossible, to leave food down for your Bulldog while you’re traveling. Train him to eat within 10 minutes. If he doesn’t eat, pick up the food and put it away until the next meal. He’ll quickly learn to eat when it’s put in front of him.
If you’ll be using fold-up travel bowls or giving him water from a bottle, teach him to use them before you leave home. Many dogs refuse to stick their noses in a canvas bowl or other tight spot. Drinking from a water bottle is an acquired skill, and it might take a few days for him to get the hang of it.
Packing for Your Pup
Pack a suitcase for your Bulldog when you’re packing for yourself. If you’re traveling by car, you’ll be able to bring more of his supplies with you. Here’s what to pack:
Health certificate: If you’re flying or crossing state lines, this is required.
Microchip information: Bring the chip number, brand name, and registry contact information.
Photo of your Bulldog: If your dog gets lost, you’ll need a photo to identify him and make posters.
Food and treats: You might not be able to find the same brands as you travel or at your destination, and a diet change could cause a stomach upset.
Water: Water from an unfamiliar place can cause diarrhea. If you can, take some of your own water from home.
Leash and collar: Always leash your Bulldog in public. Bring a regular rather than retractable leash because in most places, the latter is impractical and dangerous. Have identification on the collar with your travel contact info.
Crate: If he’s not already, familiarize your dog with the crate before you travel.
Bedding and toys: Things that smell like home will make your Bulldog more comfortable in strange places.
First-aid kit: Include medication to treat carsickness. Over-the-counter medication for humans that contains the active ingredient meclizine is safe for dogs, but check with your veterinarian to find out brand names and dosage amounts. Ginger (as in gingersnap cookies) also helps prevent motion sickness.
Cleanup supplies: Bring disposable bags and paper towels.
You and your Bulldog must mind your manners in public places. If you don’t see signs prohibiting dogs, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re welcome. Keep him under control at all times, and prevent him from jumping on or sniffing strangers. And don’t leave him tied up outside a building; he could be stolen or someone might accuse him of biting.
Highway rest areas often designate doggie relief areas. Keep your Bulldog on leash, and clean up after him, even in designated doggie zones. If there’s a fenced dog area, patrol the field for scattered food, wrappers, trash, broken glass, and waste left by other dogs before you turn your dog loose. Wild animals often scavenge at rest areas, so be on the lookout for raccoons, possums, rats, mice, and coyotes. Rattlesnakes nap under picnic tables, in the restrooms, or under nearby bushes.
TIPS AND TAILS
Don’t forget that being left in a hot car can quickly kill your dog, so eat at drive-thru restaurants while you’re traveling with your Bulldog. Stop at public rest areas to use the restroom, too. The disabled stall is usually big enough for both of you.
Wherever you go, and however you get there, always be a good citizen so dogs continue to be welcome in public places.
When He Has to Stay Home
If your pup can’t travel with you, you have several options for dog care while you’re gone. You can board him in a kennel, hire a pet sitter, or have family or friends care for him. Wherever you leave him, know that it will be a stressful time for him, especially if he goes to a place he’s never been before.
A young, active Bulldog should probably be boarded in a kennel for his own safety. If you leave him at home and have someone come in to see him twice a day, that leaves him with more than 20 hours a day to entertain himself—and by now you probably know what that entails. After a few days of isolation, a lonely Bulldog will do things he’d never do when you’re home. Although you might leave him alone while you’re at work each day, that’s much different from leaving him to his own devices for a full weekend or more.
Kennels provide safety and a choice of amenities for your Bulldog. He’ll be confined or supervised at all times, and you might be able to add extra activities to his daily routine, like exercise, walks, doggie playgroups, or swimming. Although there’s usually an extra charge for these services, your dog will adjust better and suffer from less stress if he can get out of the confined kennel each day. Some facilities might offer deluxe suites for your Bulldog that mimic a home environment with a couch, TV, and real walls instead of chain-link or plastic panels. Kennels are noisy and stressful places, no matter how well they’re operated, so your dog might come home extremely tired.
A boarding facility requires proof of DHPP, rabies, and bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines. The kennel cough vaccine should be given at least 1 week, and not more than 6 months, before you board your Bulldog. By giving the vaccine a week in advance, your dog has time to absorb the protection of the vaccine into his system.
You’ll have to sign a contract and a liability release in case your Bulldog bites someone or injures another dog. Provide your veterinarian’s contact information, too. Be honest about any behavioral problems your Bulldog has, like separation anxiety or fear of men. Kennel staff are trained professionals and can take precautions to prevent injuries or extreme stress.
Ask for a tour of the facility when you visit so you can see where your dog will stay. Ask some questions as you look around:
Will he be housed with another dog in the same kennel?
Can you bring his food or a bed that smells like home?
Is someone on-site 24 hours a day?
What veterinarian is used in case of an emergency or illness?
Are there extra charges for administering medication or feeding your own food?
TIPS AND TAILS
Before you leave, alert your veterinarian that you’ll be away and leaving your dog home, and authorize her to treat your dog or give information to the kennel, caregiver, or another clinic should the need arise.
Boarding your dog with friends or family puts a lot of responsibility on people who might not be able to handle a big, active dog like a Bulldog. If your dog knows them well, if they have another dog he knows, or if he has spent time at their house with you, the arrangement might work out.
Think carefully before you impose on your acquaintance, though. If something happens to your dog, it could ruin your relationship. Dogs often escape from private homes—they’re in a strange place, anxious, and want to go home. A dog who never digs could dig out of the yard. Your friends don’t know your dog or his habits, and their children could inadvertently leave a gate open.
TIPS AND TAILS
If you leave your dog with friends or a pet sitter, be sure they’re aware that Bulldogs are extremely susceptible to heat exhaustion and know what to do in an emergency.
A pet sitter is a better option for an adult Bulldog who has matured and settled down. You might already have a sitter who regularly walks your dog while you’re at work. Remaining at home is less stressful for your dog, as long as you trust him to behave. If you have multiple pets, this is a less-expensive option than boarding.
With a professional pet sitter, you’ll sign a contract and liability release. Because she’ll be providing more than just a daily walk, ask some in-depth questions:
How much experience does she have caring for Bulldogs?
Does she have liability and property damage insurance?
Does she do each visit herself? Does she have employees?
How long does she stay for each visit?
Are there any extra charges you should know about? Any extra services she provides?
Does she provide references? Could you call other Bulldogs owners whose dogs she cares for?
Does she know pet first aid? Has she completed a pet first-aid course?
Is she a member of any professional associations?
How would she handle a personal emergency? Does she have backup help?
Some pet sitters board dogs in their home. In this situation, your dog is in a cage-free environment and treated like a member of the family. In-home or cage-free boarding services vary. Some operators take only a few dogs, while others operate more like a doggie day care and crate or kennel all the dogs at night.
A house sitter is another option. When interviewing a house sitter, ask many of the same questions you’d ask a potential pet sitter, with extra attention given to the house sitter’s personal routine while in your home. Some sitters only stay overnight and go to another job during the day. Some guarantee they’ll stay in your home a certain number of hours each day. Be sure to clarify these details.
Also be clear about sleeping arrangements, food, cleaning, and whether the house sitter can have guests over. Some house sitters treat their time at your house as a personal vacation; be sure they understand they are there to care for your Bulldog and spend time with him.
Even a well-adjusted, happy-go-lucky Bulldog will sometimes be anxious or afraid. He might react to new situations, people, or things that have frightened him in the past, possibly during one of the fear-imprint periods in his youth. The situation could be temporary and easy to deal with, or it could have catastrophic results.
Respect your puppy’s stress or fear. Protect him from real danger, and use the socialization methods you practiced in previous months to acclimate him to safe situations where he’s reacting poorly. In rare situations, medical help or behavior counseling might be necessary to cure symptoms of an emotional nature.
Recognizing Signs of Stress
Stress can be good or bad, and you may not easily recognize your dog’s anxiety. Trying to hold a sit-stay could be stressful to him, and your arrival at the end of the day is stressful, even if in a good way. A short burst of stress causes an adrenaline rush (a flood of stress hormones) that results in a temporary but sometimes extreme reaction, but low-level chronic stress can cause serious health problems in your dog.
Your puppy might exhibit subtle signs of stress you won’t recognize unless you learn to read his behavior:
Ears pinned back: This is a classic sign your dog is worried. Watch how his ears perk up when he’s interested in something, how they appear when he’s resting, and how they fall down and back when he’s unsure.
Yawning: Many times he’s not yawning because he’s tired. Yawning is a stress-relieving mechanism.
Licking his nose: He might be gathering scent and pheromones so he can further evaluate the situation.
Teeth chattering: This can be a sign of excitement.
Turning his head away: He refuses to look at the thing that bothers him. Dogs often avoid eye contact to deflect a confrontation with another dog.
Panting: This isn’t his normal panting in hot weather or after exercise. You’ll see rapid, stress-related panting even in cool weather.
Drooling: While he drools, he also might lick his lips or his feet, have sweaty paws, or whine.
Wide, round eyes: The white haw in the corner of his eye will show (referred to as whale eye), or he’ll have dilated pupils.
A dog subjected to chronic stress with no relief will develop physical symptoms:
Stomach upset: He might vomit or have chronic diarrhea.
Hyperactivity: He might suffer from an inability to settle down or listen to you, be constantly vigilant, and overreact to everything around him.
Obsessive-compulsive behavior: Symptoms include chronic licking or chewing on himself to the point of leaving permanent, open sores; barking; or pacing.
Separation anxiety: He might be destructive when left alone or bark the entire time you’re gone.
The Fearful Bulldog
A frightened or extremely anxious dog responds in one of three ways: freeze, flight, or fight. He freezes to evaluate what’s happening, maybe lying down and refusing to move or appearing not to recognize you. He might flee by either running away or frantically struggling to escape. If he runs away, he’s not paying attention to where he’s going or what hazards are in his way. He fights if he’s cornered and feels he has no other options, starting with a warning snap or growl. If that doesn’t work, a full-on bite is his next line of defense.
The signs of stress listed in the previous section tell you he’s worried. Don’t overly comfort him if you see him exhibiting these symptoms. For example, if his hackles go up and he starts barking as you approach a mailbox he’s sure contains something scary, don’t pet him and tell him not to be afraid. He could interpret your tone of voice as confirming there really is something to worry about. By petting him, you also inadvertently praise him for his fearful reaction.
Keep the leash slack so he never feels trapped by a scary thing. Let him observe from a distance and approach only if he wants to. Don’t bribe him either; he’ll endure his terror just to get the treat. Instead, use your jolly routine and get his attention on you. When he sees that you think the scary thing is no big deal, he’ll learn to look to you for your reaction before he decides to be afraid.
Got a tense puppy? Herbal or flower remedies like Rescue Remedy might help calm him.
If your dog is chronically afraid, work with a behaviorist to develop a program to improve the situation. Counterconditioning and desensitization are two treatment options. You can’t force him to face his fears, and he’ll only become more and more terrified if you try. You might not think they’re rational, but they are very real to him.
If you enjoy working with your dog and would like to try more challenging things together, competitive sports might be for you. You don’t have to be a superathlete to compete in most canine sports. In fact, people with disabilities perform in a number of American Kennel Club (AKC)-approved activities. You’ll enjoy training as much as competing and make many like-minded friends along the way.
For AKC sports (referred to by the AKC as companion events), your Bulldog must either have registration papers or get a Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) number, which is available to unregistered dogs and mixed breeds. (The PAL used to be called Indefinite Listing Privilege, or ILP, so you might hear both terms used.) Once you’ve received your PAL number from the AKC, use that number on the entry forms for events.
Rally and Obedience Competition
The AKC offers two types of competitive obedience for dog owners. The sports require dog/handler teamwork and use similar obedience exercises in different ways.
Rally and obedience both offer novice A classes for beginning handlers who have never entered trials or earned titles with their dog. You and your dog compete against a perfect score, and if you qualify, you earn a “leg” toward a title. To start training or to learn more about rally and obedience, find a local obedience club or dog trainer who teaches competition classes.
Rally is a good place for a newcomer to start in competitive obedience. It’s less structured than traditional obedience, yet it’s still a step up from the Canine Good Citizen test you read about in Month 10. You and your dog move at your own pace through the course, completing challenges at individual stations. Each station has a sign with instructions for the skill you are to perform. You’re encouraged to talk to your dog and have fun while you’re going through the course.
A rally course includes 10 to 20 stations, depending on the level of competition. The levels in rally are Novice (RN), Advanced (RA), and Excellent (RE). In Rally Novice, all challenges are performed on leash. In Rally Advanced, all exercises are done off leash, they’re more difficult, and one low jump is included. Rally Excellent exercises include challenges like backing up three steps while the dog stays in the heel position, and a moving stand while the handler walks around the dog. A dog must qualify three times in each class to earn a title.
You can take classes just for the fun of working with your dog. You don’t ever have to enter a trial.
After you’ve conquered rally, the Novice class in traditional obedience will seem easy. Rally was officially accepted as an AKC event in 2005, but obedience competition has been part of the AKC since 1936.
Compared to rally, obedience competition requires a more structured and precise performance and much less interaction between dog and handler while in the ring.
In the Novice class, handlers and their dogs perform on- and off-leash heeling, figure-eight heeling, stand for examination, recall, 1-minute sit-stay, and 3-minute down-stay. After completing three qualifying rounds, he earns the Companion Dog (CD) title.
In the Open class, all the exercises are performed off leash: heeling, figure eight, retrieve a dumbbell, go over a jump and retrieve a dumbbell, drop on recall (a formal version of the emergency drop you taught your Bulldog in Month 10), broad jump, 3-minute sit-stay, and 5-minute down-stay. Both stays are performed with the handler out of sight. After three qualifying scores, your dog earns the Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title.
The Utility class is the most difficult. Your dog must respond to hand signals and demonstrate scent discrimination. He also must perform more advanced tasks, like directed jumping, where he runs away from the handler, sits, and returns over a jump on command. The Utility Dog (UD) title is given to teams who successfully qualify in three trials. Dogs can continue to compete and earn a Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) title after qualifying in both Open and Utility classes at 10 trials.
In addition to regular classes, obedience clubs and breed clubs often offer optional titling classes at their trials. You can enter them for fun or while training for the next level of competition. The classes are Beginner Novice A and B (BN), Graduate Novice (GN), Graduate Open (GO), and Versatility (VER).
One optional class in particular is fun for Bulldog owners: team obedience. A team of four Bulldogs and their handlers perform the novice exercises together in the ring, like a drill team.
Competitive Dog Sports
Some of the sports listed in this section offer AKC competitions. Others are put on by the sport’s parent organization. Some have several groups that sponsor events, which gives you access to more trials and training.
Agility: Agility classes are fun and help your Bulldog develop his coordination and burn off some energy. Similar to jumping competitions in the equestrian world, dogs run an obstacle course and must complete it within a preestablished time frame and without any faults, such as knocking over a jump pole or failing to hit a required contact point on an obstacle.
Although your puppy shouldn’t start jumping until his growth plates have closed, he can learn many aspects of agility at this age. Weave poles, the A frame, seesaw, pause table, dog walk, and tunnel are all safe for a young dog’s growing bones if you don’t overdo it. When he starts jumping, instructors usually set the jumps low while your dog learns.
Contact obstacles have painted zones at the ends your dog must touch with at least one paw to qualify. Contact obstacles include A frame, dog walk, and seesaw. This keeps the dogs from leaping off the top of an obstacle and being injured.
Seven organizations in the United States offer agility trials, and your Bulldog can earn dozens of titles and build an impressive list of initials at the end of his name. Here are the seven groups:
Dogs on Course in North America (DOCNA): docna.com
Canine freestyle: Dancing with dogs is a fun and increasingly popular activity. You don’t have to be a great dancer to participate, and Bulldogs love an audience. Based on basic obedience training and dressage, musical freestyle adds music, timing, costuming, and showmanship as you and your dog perform heelwork or dance moves to music. Your dog dances both at your side and away from you.
Both men and women enjoy the sport, and you can see the dogs are having fun and enjoying the crowd’s approval. You select the music and develop your own choreography, and once you’ve developed your routine, you can do demos or compete in freestyle events. For more information about canine freestyle, visit the World Canine Freestyle Organization at worldcaninefreestyle.org or the Canine Freestyle Federation at canine-freestyle.org.
Carting: You’ll be the center of attention at parades, school visits, and any event you take your Bulldog to when he’s pulling a cart or wagon. And because Bulldogs are big hams and love to pull, he’ll enjoy it, too. The best way to get started is to visit a carting trial. Breed clubs, such as the American Rottweiler Club (amrottclub.org), welcome all breeds to their practices and competitions. You’ll learn what equipment you need and how to safely teach your Bulldog to pull a cart. It might take him some time to catch on, but when he gets the idea, you’re ready to hit the road! You can find discussion groups for carting enthusiasts on Facebook and Yahoo!
When you research carting, you’ll also find draft dog information. This sport is for heavy pulling, where large working breeds pull heavy weights for long distances. Bulldogs don’t do draft dog events.
The AKC recognizes carting titles. Your Bulldog can earn a Carting Started (CS) title, for which the exercises are done on leash, and the Carting Intermediate (CI) title, which is performed off leash. There are also team events, where two Bulldogs pull a cart together. Dogs are tested on their maneuvering ability and response to commands from the handler. The cart is loaded with weights, usually 20 to 40 pounds for a Bulldog. Weights may vary from club to club.
Flyball: An exciting sport based on speed and retrieving, flyball races consist of two teams of four dogs who compete against each other in relay races. Each dog jumps the hurdles, steps on a tennis ball launcher at the end of the line to release the ball, and returns with the ball. When he crosses the finish line, the next dog is released to do the same thing. Both teams run at the same time, side by side, so competition is fierce and the audience cheers their team on to the finish line. Teams are divided into divisions so they can compete against other teams with similar levels of ability.
Conformation: When you see a televised dog show, like the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship or the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, that’s a conformation event. In these events, dogs are judged against the breed standard. Within each breed, judges evaluate dogs in classes separated by gender and then further divisions within each gender. The winners of each class compete against dogs who have earned their championship for the Best of Breed award.
Dogs earn points based on how many dogs they’re shown against, and when they’ve won a certain number of points against a representative number of dogs for the particular breed, they earn their championship.
You’ll find several types of conformation shows: all-breed shows; specialtyshows, where just one breed is shown; and group shows, for example an all-hound or all-terrier competition. Breeds are divided into seven groups in AKC competition. Bulldogs are part of the Non-Sporting Group, and the Best of Breed Bulldog competes against breeds such as Dalmatians, Keeshonden, and Poodles for the Best in Group award. In an all-breed show, the winner of each group then proceeds to the Best in Show ring, where a judge chooses a winner among the seven top dogs from that day’s competition.
A specialty show is a conformation dog show for a single breed of dog held by a breed club. In a Bulldog Specialty, the breed club often also conducts obedience, rally, and agility trials.
Your Bulldog may or may not be a show-quality dog, and an expert will need to go over him to confirm whether he should be shown. Conformation dogs must be intact (not spayed or neutered).
If you’re interested in conformation, talk to your breeder. Many breed clubs have fun matches in which you can practice and take classes, and some breeders will mentor people who are new to the sport.
Lure coursing: You might think lure coursing is only for Greyhounds, but Bulldogs love it! Many Bulldogs around the United States have earned Coursing Ability titles. All breeds are welcome in the AKC Coursing Ability tests, where dogs chase an artificial lure.
The test is fashioned after traditional lure coursing and meant to provide a fun outlet for dogs and their owners. It’s a pass/fail test, and your Bulldog is judged on how well he sticks to the job at hand, chasing the lure with enthusiasm and without interruption within a certain time limit. The event is structured so nonsighthound breeds should be able to easily pass. Safety is the first consideration, so there are no extreme turns and no turn more acute than 90 degrees.
The course is approximately 300 yards, and when a dog passes three times, he earns a Coursing Ability (CA) title. After he passes 10 tests, his title is Coursing Ability Advanced (CAA). After he passes 25 tests, he earns a Coursing Ability Excellent (CAX) title.
Accompanied by their owners, therapy dogs make visits to schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation hospitals, libraries, and other facilities to cheer the patients, residents, and staff. Bulldogs love people, so they’re naturally suited for this kind of work.
Most facilities require that you and your dog be trained and certified through a recognized therapy dog organization. Therapy Dogs International (tdi-dog.org) and Pet Partners (petpartners.org) both have local chapters all over the United States that train and certify animal-assisted therapy dogs. Pet Partners also offers a home-study course to prepare you and your dog for visits.
Many therapy groups use the Canine Good Citizen test as the basis for certification and expand it to include exposure to wheelchairs and hospital situations. Dogs with more advanced training can participate in animal-assisted therapy, attending actual physical or psychological therapy sessions. For instance, a patient in a rehab hospital could relearn to use her hands by brushing your Bulldog, throwing a ball for him, or opening a can of dog food. Or your dog might sit next to a child who is undergoing a frightening procedure to calm her. In schools, a child could read to your dog while working on her reading skills.
TIPS AND TAILS
Therapy dogs must be immaculately groomed for their visits. Their toenails must be cut short, for example, so they don’t tear the skin of fragile or elderly patients. They also must be healthy and free of parasites because they’ll be around patients with compromised immune systems.
To find a therapy dog group near you, ask local obedience trainers or hospitals to refer you to a group. Or contact the national organizations and see if there’s a local chapter in your area.
You and Your Puppy
Your relationship with your puppy will gradually change from one of constant supervision and training to one of friendship and understanding. You’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other, and your Bulldog can read your moods well. And of course, you’ve learned to read him, too, especially when he’s about to take off with your shoe.
Check in with your breeder at least once a year, and give her an update on your puppy. She’ll want to know if your dog has any health issues you’re concerned about, and she’ll be thrilled to catch up on your Bulldog’s activities.