French Bulldogs are popular pets for a wide variety of reasons: They’re friendly and affectionate, they’re bright and playful, and they do well in all kinds of living situations. From small city apartments to larger homes with outdoor space, the Frenchie will be perfectly happy and doesn’t just do well with other pets and children—it prefers a crowd.
Training your Frenchie can be challenging, though; the breed often demonstrates a stubbornness that has been described as “perverse,” resulting in what can seem like an obstinate refusal to be trained. The good news is that with the right approach—and plenty of patience—you can successfully train your Frenchie so that you both enjoy a peaceful, loving life together.
You can train your French Bulldog puppy in 6 easy but essential steps:
- Start potty training as early as possible.
- Use plenty of verbal and physical praise and rewards.
- Introduce a crate.
- Integrate your puppy.
- Limit command training to short lessons.
Let’s go through each step in more detail.
1. Start Potty Training as Early as Possible
Frenchies are smart, analytical dogs—which means they assess their surroundings and form habits very quickly. The French Bulldog Guide is a great resource with tons of information about your new puppy and their temperament. Potty training a French Bulldog puppy should begin the moment you bring them home. Bring your Frenchie to the spot where you want them to go to the bathroom and let them explore until they go. Allowing your Frenchie to go to the bathroom inside can create a bad pattern.
2. Use Plenty of Verbal and Physical Rewards
Positive reinforcement is essential. French Bulldogs are “people pleasers” who respond very well to rewards like simple verbal praise, food treats, or favorite toys. The Nest suggests that you begin positive reinforcement in potty training from that first bathroom break, introducing the “Potty!” command in a positive tone when your puppy goes, and then rewarding it with a treat.
If there is an indoor accident, clean it immediately, so your puppy doesn’t begin to associate a specific spot in your home as its bathroom. Apartment Therapy has an excellent guide to cleaning up doggie accidents.
3. Introduce a Crate
Training French Bulldog puppies works best if you introduce a crate. Frenchies, like many other breeds of dog, like to have a safe, confined space to retreat to. Begin by selecting a crate that’s large enough for your dog to grow into, then put some treats inside and let your puppy explore it on their own for a bit before closing them in. Then sit with them a while before leaving them. Some puppies will whine and cry, and it’s important not to give in and let them be until they calm down, or they will learn that they can escape anytime they wish by crying. An added bonus from crate training is your Frenchie will instinctively avoid peeing in his sleeping area—and thus avoid peeing inside.
Over at Blue Haven French Bulldogs, they recommend the Potty Training Puppy Apartment from ModernPuppies.com if taking your Frenchie outside to go to the bathroom is impossible or inconvenient. It provides a space where your puppy can be trained to go without leaving the house!
4. Integrate Your Puppy
Training a French Bulldog puppy involves introducing it to the people and other animals around it. Don’t over-protect your puppy from noise and activity; they are social dogs and will thrive when a lot is going on. Begin integrating your puppy into your household immediately, introducing it to everyone and letting it interact.
5. Limit Command Training to Short Lessons
Training a French Bulldog puppy to obey simple commands is easier than you think and will benefit both of you tremendously. Seven simple commands are all you need: POTTY (or TOILET), STOP, SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, and QUIET. These are clear commands that your puppy can learn easily. As this WikiHow page explains, these commands can be taught with the same procedure: Calmly and quietly speak the word in a clear, loud voice while physically guiding your dog towards the behavior desired, then reward your puppy generously when they obey correctly.
It’s important to limit your lessons to brief, five minute periods. French Bulldogs don’t have much attention span or patience, so longer lessons will only frustrate both of you. Repeat the lessons 3-5 times a day when your puppy is rested, fed, and calm.
Follow these guidelines, and very soon your new companion will be a well-behaved roommate and family member!