Preparing for Your Bulldog

Preparing for Your Bulldog
In This Chapter
  • Fixing fences
  • Dog-proofing your home
  • Getting everything your Bulldog needs
  • Getting proper ID

This chapter helps you prepare your home for the new arrival. Use the information contained here as a checklist to ensure that you have everything needed for your Bulldog before he sets foot in his new home. Having everything prepared in advance makes the transition less stressful for both you and your dog, so you can both enjoy your Bully’s homecoming.

Making the Outdoors Safe for Your Bulldog

Before you bring your Bully home, take a look at your yard. If it’s already fenced, you’re a step ahead. Make sure that the fence you have can keep your Bully safe. You want to make sure that your puppy can’t escape or get his head stuck in the fence. Fences with gaps large enough for a puppy to wiggle through need extra reinforcement near the ground to cover the gaps.

Choosing traditional fencing

If you don’t have a fence, think about your long-term needs. A chain-link fence is easier to care for than solid wood but doesn’t give you or your property privacy. Sadly enough, you need to think about your community. People, including small children, and other dogs may tease or annoy your dog. A solid fence may also prevent your dog from being stolen because dognappers can’t see what’s behind the fence. Solid PVC fences are maintenance free and give you privacy. However, PVC fences are probably the most expensive of all the fence types.


Whatever kind of fencing you choose, make sure that it’s high enough. Bulldogs aren’t noted for a lot of fence jumping, but your fence needs to keep other dogs out as well as keep your Bully in. A fence height of 5 feet is the minimum I would consider, but assess your neighborhood. Just remember that your neighborhood can change. Having a higher fence installed initially is cheaper than paying for a total replacement later.

Opting for invisible fencing

Invisible fencing is an increasingly popular type of protection for your dog. Installation requires a buried wire around your property. The confining concept is simple: Your dog wears a collar, and when he nears the buried boundary, an audible tone warns him. If he continues to the border, he receives a mild shock from the collar. Because Bulldogs generally aren’t crazy about mild shocks and noises they don’t like, this routine of bells and shocks trains your dog to stay in his yard.
Have a reputable company install your invisible fencing. These companies don’t just install the wire and give you a collar; they also work with you to train your dog properly, so he respects the boundaries.


Invisible fencing has its drawbacks. Although your dog is kept in his yard, other loose dogs can enter your property, as can people. Bulldogs maintain a sweet and even temperament, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t defend their territory from a stray dog or cat. You don’t want strangers teasing or, worse, stealing your dog. You also run the risk of accidental pregnancy if your female Bully isn’t spayed. Any male dog in the neighbor can access your female Bully. My vote is for a real fence.

Safeguarding Your Home

Puppies are like small children. They want to explore every inch of their world, and in the process, they want to taste everything. Like a small child, your Bully puppy puts everything in her mouth.
Protect your belongings and your dog with a little thought before the puppy arrives. Look around the rooms at puppy level. Remove or block off anything that poses a danger or can be destroyed.


Safety is your responsibility — put dangers out of your puppy’s way. Don’t let him sample anything that may cause harm or death. Here are some important safeguarding standards to consider:

Crate your puppy when you can’t watch her or when you’re going out. If you do nothing else to puppyproof your house, do this.

Protect your dog from the electrical cords in the house. Make cords as unreachable as possible. Tape down long cords that are reachable. A chewed lamp cord is a deadly hazard for your puppy.

Use childproof locks on cupboards in your kitchen or bathroom that have loose doors. Especially consider locks for doors under sinks where cleaning supplies are stored.

No matter how well you puppy proof your house, your curious puppy will find and destroy something. You can have a perfect house, or you can have a puppy. There are some common-sense things you can do to protect your household items from your pup. Some examples are:

– If you own fragile collectibles, put them on high shelves on sturdy bookcases. Puppies can bump into tables and bookcases when they play. If the coffee table is covered with tempting items for your puppy, remove the temptations from sight.

– An oriental rug with tasty-looking fringe is a fun toy in the mind of your Bully, but don’t leave her alone with the rug. I suggest rolling up the rug for a few months. Aside from ruining the look of that expensive rug, a puppy can swallow fringe and incur serious intestinal problems that require surgery.

– Got a priceless antique chair? Protect the rungs. Puppies love chair rungs. Chairs make wonderful teething toys. Puppies are also fast. I own a chair with rungs that is now decorated with teeth marks. I would have bet money that the most recent puppy was never alone with that chair.


– Make a spare room off limits to the puppy, and put rare furniture, special rugs, or other precious items in the room until the puppy is older. You can purchase baby gates to protect the closed-off rooms.

Examining Crates: All-Purpose Doggy Dens


Contrary to popular opinion, a crate isn’t a jail cell. Some people see a crate and see bars. Dogs, on the other paw, see a crate as a den — a safe place to take a nap or get away for a while. If you’ve had a dog before, you know that dogs frequently hide under chairs, tables, or even beds for their naps. A dog may even squeeze between a sofa and the wall. Think den when you shop for a crate.

Most puppies adjust quickly to crates. Some crying and whining at night is normal, so grit your teeth, and remember that this, too, shall pass. As long as you’re feeding your puppy well, keeping her warm and dry, and letting her out for potty breaks, let her cry. She’ll stop eventually, honest.
Although most dogs quickly adjust to crates, occasionally a dog will not adapt to crating. I had a dog who seemed to have panic attacks when she was crated for long periods of time and another who didn’t mind sleeping in a crate, but the door needed to be open. Fortunately, neither of these quirks started until after housetraining.


If you have a dog who objects to the crate after a reasonable try, don’t force the issue. She can always hide under the bed for privacy or sleep with you in the bed, if that is acceptable. Remember that after you allow her to sleep with you, cuddling is a hard habit to break for your dog. See Chapter Housetraining Your Bulldog for information on crate training.

Numbering the advantages

Purchasing a crate for your Bully provides him with a comfy den and also benefits you. Take a look at the following list, and see whether you can be persuaded to give crates a chance:

A crate gives your puppy a snug place of her own.

Traveling is easier with a crate. When you’re visiting Aunt Betsy, your dog is safe and snug, and your aunt’s furniture and rug are free from dog hair.

Crate training prepares a dog for any time when she may need to stay overnight at the veterinarian. A vet visit can be stressful, but if your Bully’s used to a crate, chances are she may relax and fall asleep, even in a strange place. When I board my dogs, I frequently request that their crates go in the indoor kennel run with them.

Crates are small, easy-to-clean areas. If your puppy has an accident in the crate, the mess is a snap to clean. Wire crates frequently have a removable tray that makes cleanup even easier.

Deciding on the den

Crates are moderately expensive, but they can last a long time, depending on the aggressiveness and activity of your puppy when housed in the crate. Talk to your breeder about the right size of crate for your Bulldog. Here are a couple things to keep in mind about crate size:

– Your dog needs to be able to stand up in the crate, turn around easily, and lie down stretched out. Cramped crates can make your Bulldog uncomfortable and unhappy.

– On the other hand, a crate that is too large isn’t the cozy den your dog wants, and the vastness may encourage him to sleep at one end and turn the other end into his bathroom.

You may even want two or three crates — one for the car, one for the family room, and one for the bedroom. Crates make wonderful bedside tables.


Plastic crates or pet carriers provide more protection when traveling with or shipping your Bully. In the event of an accident, plastic crates play an even more important role in keeping your dog safe, as they’re usually very durable and offer more impact resistance than other types of crates. Plastic crates also allow ventilation and function well at home in the air conditioning or heat (see Figure 5-1).


If you aren’t much of a traveler or don’t plan on shipping your Bulldog out of town, wire crates (my preference) are a good stay-athome hostel for your puppy. In winter, cover the top and sides of the wire with a blanket or a custom-made cover to create a cozy den, and in warm weather, flip the sides up to provide air circulation.

Solid metal


Stay away from solid metal crates with your short-nosed pup. Solid metal crates tend to hold heat, and your Bulldog can become overheated.

 Figure 5-1: The versatile pet carrier can be used as a dog bed, dog crate, and travel crate.

Buying Beds for Bulldogs

Beds come in wonderful colors and fabrics, and coordinating your dog’s bed with your other household furnishings can be fun. Bed selections range from foam and beanbag beds all the way to real innerspring mattresses. Many beds are made specifically to fit crates. Look for a bed with protective covers that contain any doggy dribbles and accidents.
The main thing to keep in mind when selecting a bed is durability. Of course, your Bulldog’s comfort is important, but you don’t want to get him a bed that he can destroy in a matter of minutes. When shopping for a dog bed, no matter what kind you decide on, make sure it’s tough enough to stand up to your Bully!


If you choose a foam bed, make sure that the cover surrounds the foam completely. If your Bully can reach the foam, he can eat it. Then it’s goodbye bed, hello emergency surgery.

You may want to save the expensive mattress until your puppy is an adult. Many puppies chew on whatever is available, and I’ve seen beautiful wicker beds reduced to a pile of twigs.

Collars and Leads and Harnesses, Oh My!

Leads and collars help keep your puppy under control when you’re out in public. Remember, not everyone loves dogs, so if you have control of your dog, you’re less likely to scare other people. You can also keep your Bully from harm or pull him away from something he shouldn’t be into when he’s on a collar and lead.


Collars come in a wide assortment of colors with matching leads. A simple, flat nylon collar works well as a first collar. Adjustable collars are good investments because as your puppy grows into adulthood, he will need his collar let out; adjustable collars prevent multiple runs to the nearest pet store for a bigger collar.
If you want a permanent, more expensive collar for your Bully, wait until he’s full grown.
Here are a few specialty collars you may see in the stores:

Buckle collar: The buckle collar is often considered “daily wear” for dogs. It’s a good bet for growing Bulldogs because it’s easy to adjust the size of the collar as the dog grows. Buckle collars also stand up well to hard use and stay on Bulldogs well (see Figure 5-2A).

Slip collar: The slip collar is a type of training collar designed to tighten around the dog’s neck when the dog pulls too hard on the leash. Some dogs respond well to slip collars, although other dogs continue to pull so much that they are in danger of choking themselves (one of the reasons why these collars are also called choke collars). Consider using this type of collar when training your Bulldog (see Chapter Mastering Good Manners and Basic Commands), but don’t use it for daily wear (see Figure 5-2B).

Prong collar: There are a variety of training collars out there, depending on the dog and what he’s being trained to do. For Bulldogs, the prong collar is fairly common, especially for Bullies that are stubborn and undisciplined on a lead (see Figure 5-2C). The prong collar looks a bit intimidating to some people, but properly fitted and used, it won’t hurt your Bulldog and will help you better communicate to him what you’d like him to do. Work with a trainer to help get the right collar for your Bulldog and to learn how to use it (see Chapter Mastering Good Manners and Basic Commands).

– Martingale collars. These look a bit like a figure eight. The larger loop has a metal ring at each end, through which the smaller loop passes. The lead attaches to this smaller loop, and that loop draws the large loop closed. It prevents the collar from slipping over the dog’s head but will close only to the size of the larger loop so that the dog can’t be choked by the collar (see Figure 5-2D).


Slip collars, prong collars, Martingales, and other types of training collars should never be left on your Bulldog when he’s not training. They can injure your Bulldog if he’s unsupervised and gets into mischief while wearing them.

Figure 5-2: Four different dog collars: buckle (A), slip (B), prong (C), and martingale (D).


Leads come in various lengths, but for training and walking 6 feet is the most useful length. Purchase a practical nylon lead to match your puppy’s collar (if you want) or a cotton lead if you can find one. Many times cotton leashes are 40 feet long and may not be the most sensible for training.

Leather leads

Leather leashes are a good choice. Leather is long lasting and looks good on your dog. After the leather is broken in, it will be supple and soft in your hand. Make sure to acquire the thinnest lead you can. The wider the lead, the less flexible it can be.

Chain leads

For some strange reason, chain leads are still on the market, and people buy them. You may think that a chain lead means your dog is strong and powerful and shows everyone that you need a heavyduty leash to control your dog. In fact, chain leads are horrible to use. These leads come with a little plastic or leather loop for your hand, but the loop is just a handy way to make sure that you and your dog stay connected. Most of the time, whether walking your dog or training him, you need one hand on the actual lead — the chain.


Chains are hard, unyielding, and bulky, and if your puppy makes a sudden lunge forward, the chain may rip the skin off the palm of your hand.

Retractable leads

If you live near a wide-open field or park where you can walk your dog, you may want to use a retractable lead. Your dog may enjoy the extra 15 to 25 feet of wandering room. I find these leads awkward and annoying, but many people love the freedom for their dog. Remember to reel your dog in at the approach of other dogs or people.


Keep your dog close when you’re crossing a street. If your dog gets too far ahead on a retractable lead, he may be in harm’s way. I recently heard about a dog who was hit by a car and killed because the owner let her dog walk ahead on a retractable lead.


A harness is another option but not one I recommend. Bulldogs are strong, determined dogs, and a harness gives them a chance to pull you along wherever they want to go. You don’t have the control over a dog in a harness — the dog controls you. A collar and lead are a better choice.

Toying Around

Toys are some of the most delightful items to shop for. You can spend all day looking at toys. The options are endless. Playful extras for your dog come in all shapes and sizes. And size is one of the first factors you need to think about. A toy that is too big is better than one that is too small. Amazingly enough, dogs consider swallowing just about anything, and you don’t want playtime to end in tragedy. So when in doubt, go bigger.
Here are some facts on a few of the more popular dog toys:

Tug-of-war toys are popular and teach your dog to grip, but be careful. Bulldogs are bred to hang on and never let go. Play at a level suitable to your puppy. Also, if you’re considering advanced obedience with your Bully, don’t play tug-of-war at all.

The Kong is made of hard rubber and meant to keep your puppy occupied for hours. By stuffing cheese, peanut butter, or dog biscuits in the center of the Kong, you can amuse yourself while your Bully tries to extract the food from the Kong. If you’re planning to be away from the house for a few hours, distract your puppy with a Kong. Kongs are also a great chewing workout for your puppy. Cubes and balls that release food when your dog knocks the toy around are alternatives to Kongs.

Plush toys may have larger plastic noisemakers buried deep within their stuffing, but a determined dog can quickly disembowel a toy to reach the squeaker. The part of the toy that makes the noise is hard and may, if swallowed, become stuck in your dog’s esophagus or block his intestine. Remember to supervise play with noisemaker toys until you know how your dog reacts to them.


Cutting out the squeaker in toys can prevent accidental swallowing. One of my dogs insisted on gutting his toys to reach the noisy part, so I finally starting cutting the squeakers out of toys before I gave them to him. I must admit that desqueaking ruins some of the fun but is much safer. You can also buy regular stuffed animals without the squeaker mechanism.

You don’t have to buy all your dog’s toys. Puppies play with almost anything. Here are some homemade toys your dog will love:

– Give your dog a plastic gallon milk jug, and watch him bat it around and bite it.

– A whole carrot provides some fun as well as chewing exercise.

– If your puppy is teething, sacrifice an old washcloth. Wet the cloth, put it in a plastic bag, and place it in the freezer. After the washcloth is frozen, take it out of the bag, and let your puppy gnaw on it.

– You can do the same thing with a tennis ball in an old sock. Put the tennis ball in the sock, knot the sock to keep the ball in place, wet the entire thing, and freeze.


– Knotted socks also make great toys for playing fetch. The socks are easy to throw and retrieve. Sock toys are also easy to wash and cheap to replace. The only problem may be that your puppy can’t discern between your good socks and your bad socks. Look at the situation this way: Your puppy is going to chew, whether he’s ever seen a sock before or not. I know, you’re not supposed to turn items of clothing into dog toys because dogs don’t know the difference between the play sock and your good socks. But you control the situation. Puppies can teach you to be neat and tidy. Don’t leave your good socks or other unmentionables lying around to be chewed. Then use your old socks that would normally go in the trash as recycled puppy toys.

Gauging Grooming Tools

When you’re on that shopping spree, remember to look for the grooming tools needed to keep your dog neat and tidy. Chapter Grooming Your Bulldog goes into more detail about how to groom your Bulldog and tells you exactly what you need.

Evaluating Food and Water Bowls

Choices abound in the area of doggy dishware. The following sections go over the three main types of dog bowls.


While you’re shopping for your dog’s dinnerware, consider a doggy placemat for the bowls. Mats wipe clean and prevent water and food from scattering all over your kitchen floor. Mats also come in all kinds of wonderful designs.

Stainless steel bowls

Stainless steel bowls are relatively inexpensive and indestructible dishware that can be thoroughly cleaned. Many stainless steel bowls also have rubber on the bottom to prevent skidding. Wash these bowls in the dishwasher regularly to ensure the cleanest dishes for your Bully.

Plastic dishes

Plastic dishes are cheaper than stainless steel but don’t provide the durability of the stainless steel models. Plastic is also harder to clean and may retain stains and odors, and plastic may irritate your Bully’s sensitive face and lips. Additionally, when your Bulldog has finished his dinner, he may decide to finish off his bowl, seeing that it is a dandy teething toy.

Ceramic bowls

Ceramic bowls may tempt you with the vast array of colors and sizes with wonderful designs and clever sayings. Ceramic is heavy enough to prevent spilling. It is breakable, so be careful. If you decide on ceramic bowls, make sure that the paint and glaze are lead free.

Preventing spills in the crate

Consider these for your dog’s crate instead of a bowl:

Water bottles: These bottles clip on the side of wire crates, and your dog licks the end of the tube to make the water flow. The benefits include spill prevention and cleanliness of the water. Water bottles are also great when traveling. Big dogs may have a hard time getting all the water they need with a water bottle, but for a short trip, the bottle is ideal. The bottle can also be perfect for your Bully puppy.

Stainless steel buckets: If you want to help prevent spills when your dog grows up, attach a small stainless steel bucket to the side of the crate. Some bowls also fasten to crates, and plastic crates frequently come with small bowls attached to the door.

by Susan M.Ewing