Out of all the most memorable dog breeds, especially some of the smaller dog breeds, there is nothing quite as notable as the French bulldog. These dogs are often known for being incredibly foolish, playful, caring, and generally adorable.
However, as with just about any other living creature, these bulldogs can display aggressive behavior under particular circumstances, such as not being properly socialized at the right age.
Aggressive behavior in dogs, notably dogs that are better trained, has a tendency to escalate. After all, your dog cares for you and doesn’t want to injure you out of the blue. If your French bulldog is growling at you or bearing its teeth, you should consider this as a warning to stop what you are doing or to remove the dog from the current situation.
If this is not done, then there’s a good chance that the dog’s behavior will escalate into nipping at the nearest hand, and if the dog still remains in a bad situation, that nipping can turn into a full bite. Nobody wants this to happen to their dog.
Where Does the Fear Come From?
Generally, when fear aggression in French bulldogs comes up, there are going to be a few key reasons. For one, it could be that your dog is fearful of something or someone, and aggression is their only way of expressing that fear.
This behavior is particularly common with smaller dogs, such as the French bulldog. aggressive behavior can also happen if the dog comes under the belief that the humans of the household are not the ones in charge of things, and the dog believes that it is the one who is allowed to be bossy, jealous, and possessive.
No matter whether your dog is scared or possessive, this kind of behavior almost always calls for a change in surroundings and training. There is only one situation where things are handled differently.
Making Sure That the French Bulldog Is Okay
If your french bulldog starts growling more than usual without a clear-cut cause, you should always make sure that you take it to the veterinarian first. Growling and nipping can be signs that your dog is actually in pain and is warning you not to touch a particular area of the body.
Generally, when it comes to these dogs, there are a number of things that could be going on. While French bulldogs are known for their short stature, this stature can cause some musculoskeletal conditions, bringing pain to your puppy.
The more common conditions are going to be hip dysplasia, an intervertebral disk disease, hemivertebra, or patellar luxation. Additionally, because of that iconic smushed face that makes the bulldog famous, French bulldogs can have breathing issues, which can also result in discomfort, leading to growling. A reliable veterinarian is going to be able to determine what is wrong and the best approach to take to fix the issue.
If the veterinarian determines that the fear aggression in French bulldogs is not due to an underlying condition, there are two paths that you can take, depending on the nature of the growling.
Handling Possessive Behavior
One reason your French bulldog might be growling and nipping at you more than it should is that it is being possessive over one of its belongings. It could be that it’s their food bowl that they are trying to guard, or it could be a pet bed or even a particular toy that it loves.
More often than not, however, it is the food bowl that is the culprit of the growling. To handle this possessive behavior, you will need to make some changes to the way you feed your dog.
First things first, if you have a French bulldog that is showing signs of possessive behavior over its food bowl, you cannot let the dog free-feed. This means that you are going to have to feed your dog at set times, much like people eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You should figure out how many “meals” a day your dog needs to be properly fed, ration them out, and then move the food out of reach of the dog. You should make sure that the food bowl is in a calm, quaint part of the house, preferably in an area with as little foot traffic as possible.
If you have children, make sure that they thoroughly understand that they cannot bother the dog while it is eating. If the children are very young, consider physically making sure they are not getting to the dog’s feeding area.
If you believe that this is an issue of control and that the dog no longer sees you as being in control of the house, you can consider feeding your dog from your hand.
You will want to hold the bowl in one hand while you hand-feed your French bulldog. This proves to the dog that you are the one who controls the food, helping to curb the possessive behavior.
Handling Fearful Behavior
The other common situation where you might deal with fear aggression in French bulldogs is, understandably, when they are scared of a situation. This happens either when the dogs are young and not yet socialized due to age, or if the dog has not been socialized enough, although there are some rare expectations where the situation is one that the dog has never experienced before.
It would generally go without saying that you should first remove the dog from the immediate situation if it is beginning to growl. From here, you are going to need to learn to socialize the dog with the situation that it fears.
Make sure that you have a good-quality leash and that it is attached in a way that the dog cannot slip from it. Also remember to bring some treats, preferably one of your dog’s favorites. You should bring the dog within view of the person or situation that the dog is afraid of. Make sure the dog can see what it fears, but also make sure that you are not too close to it either.
You can base this off your dog’s behavior and cues. Remember that you need to stay calm during this as well to show your French bulldog that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. As your dog stands there, seeing what it fears, you will want to make sure that you give it treats to associate positive reinforcement for not growling.
This will help ensure that the dog understands that whatever it was scared of is not a threat to anyone. Once about 10 minutes are up, you can take the dog back to the house. Remember to do this on a daily basis until your dog is able to be in the situation or near the person without growling or acting fearful.
Things to Remember
Finally, there are a few warnings that you need to keep in mind when it comes to any growling dog, but especially your own. For one, always, always make sure that young children stay away from your French bulldog until it is properly trained not to growl.
Young children aren’t going to understand that growling is a deterrent, and the dog isn’t going to understand why the child isn’t backing away, leading to escalation. Growling can easily escalate into something more, meaning that you need to take it very seriously when it happens.
If your dog does growl, do your best to use positive reinforcement to correct the behavior. With growling in particular, negative reinforcement (yelling or punishing the dog) can lead to a lot of trouble. Your dog might accidentally learn that the growling is what the problem was, and stop growling altogether.
While this might seem nice, this means that when your dog is getting very tense, there will be no warning. There will only be snapping jaws, as your dog has only learned not to growl, rather than learning to overcome the situation or person it was growling about.
My last words
Finally, the last thing that you need to remember is that you should consider talking to an animal behavioralist if the growling not only escalates frequently but if the ordinary measures aren’t working.
This can be a sign that the problem is much more deeply rooted in your dog’s brain, such as a mood disorder, a previous trauma, or something else. With an animal behavioralist by your side, you can rest assured knowing that you will be able to understand your dog and help it learn that growling at a situation is not the right way to resolve things.
By working patiently with your French bulldog, not only will you be able to lessen the growling and possibly eliminate it altogether, but you will also be able to deepen the bond between you and your dog. Building trust, using positive reinforcement, and other methods are some of the best things that you can do to help your dog. Before you know it, both of you will be able to live happier lives alongside each other.