Stirring up the most anxious feelings for the new dog owner is the
contemplation of housetraining. French bulldogs have a
bad "rep" in regard to this facet of their socialization.
After housebreaking a countless number of puppies of this breed and
a few other breeders in a different size and temperament, I
can assure you of two things: (1) In spite of the dog's
ancestors being amongst a gene pool thousands of years in your
history, there is no French Bulldog that cannot be housetrained;
(2) Rate of progress to 100% success will coincide with your
own consistency in observation, understanding, and
communication with , and control of your dog within his
YOURSELF IN HIS PLACE:
Understanding your pup's deepest instincts will lead to success in
all facets of domesticating what once by nature was a wild pack
animal. The canine's deepest urgings are to be a
sociable creature living within a set order of rules. The canine was
a den-dweller where gathered with others of his kind, his
existence was safe, warm, and clean. As young wild pups, the
litter followed their mothers out of the den as soon as they could
waddle on puppy legs. Their strongest sense being that of
scent, could identify their own "out-out" spot and relieved
themselves in their own area.
Since the pups do not differentiate between the inside and outside
of your home, the mat or a pee pad on your flooring, you must
establish good communication between yourself and the puppy or adult
dog. Your space is too roomy and being separated from a mother
and a pack with order, the dog must learn a new rulebook of order
(humans tend to call this "structure" or "routine") or he will
establish a den(sleeping area) and an "out-out" area.
Before making the puppy or dog a member of your "pack", decide on
his den and where the "out-out" place will be. Consider options for
the training program that work best with your lifestyle and buy the
necessary "tools" to establish a den and "out-out" place. You
should decide on a mealtime hour(s), whether to paper or pee-pad
training vs. a strict schedule of frequent outdoor walks or blending
the options into your program. Regardless of the
housebreaking routine you choose, stock up on rewards, remembering
that "food" is the primary reward used in behavior management. For
puppies, it is the quickest ways and means to successful results.
It requires "barriers" and control of the environment to establish a
doggie den. This requires a crate for crate training, a small
room (not as effective because rooms are too roomy), an exercise pen
plus crate, and perhaps baby gates. A barrier can even be
concocted from cardboard boxes to be used on a temporary basis.
are those with a fenced yard and doggie door, however, the French
Bulldog is a perfect lapdog and companion pet for apartment
dwellers. For security reasons, we have never put doggie doors
in our household exits, and I actually doubt that a rapid rate of
success in this training will happen unless you participate.
Remember, the dog's ancestors walked outdoors with the litter of
pups following - that instinct is still a strong inclination within
the heart of your modern-day pooch....probably stronger within the
yearnings of the French bulldog who somehow can act so independent
but in reality depends on closeness of his owner companion for most
every function. I am totally convinced that this breed models
after those humans in his den-space. The quickest way to the goal is
to lead the way.
For apartment dwellers, a collar or harness and lead is
necessary to journey to the dog's territory. For those
with a yard with or without a fence, lead the way to the "out-out"
space you have chosen to become the dog's own "territory".
Sometimes it is helpful to take an exercise pen outdoors to limit
the territory that you are establishing for elimination.
Remember this is serious business, so fold hands behind your back or
cross your arms, refusing to convey any notion that this trip is for
playtime. Look in every direction but at your pooch so the only
stimulation it receives from you is your "cue" word reinforced
by body language. "Out-out", "do your biz", "go potty" are
possible vocal cues. A handclap works well for a physical cue.
After a few successful potty walks, you'll see that your dog will
look toward you to see if you are going to appreciate his efforts by
exclamations of praise, handclaps, and hopefully the reward of pats.
playtime or a bit of doggie biscuit.
For young puppies of this breed in the fiercest of winter weather, I
began using piddle pads indoors just a few years ago. Dogs that
are trained to use these pads do not easily differentiate between
these pads and throw rugs until they are much much older so give
this careful thought because not all will transfer learning from a
pad indoors to a spot outdoors. There are benefits from
paper or piddle pad training, i.e., avoiding taking
frequent walks in cold winter winds or when the dog is ill,
particularly for a breed that more easily can catch a respiratory
infection. As the dog matures, most seem to prefer the
outdoors for elimination so behavior can be modified. Once the
dog is crate trained, an exercise pen might be set up indoors with a
small crate in one corner, toys and food dish available and a piddle
pad in the opposite corner which is one way of arranging the
environment and training the dog when owner is away for several
Only to the human's reasoning is a crate (kennel) punitive or cruel.
To the descendants of a wild den animal, the crate enclosure is a
safe haven, protective, cozy, and the French Bulldog likes moments,
even hours, of seclusion. The French Bulldog tends to be very
territorial about his "stuff" so a crate provides his private space
for meals, napping, chewing on his nylabones or chew hooves as he
chills down to head for a nap several times a day. After
separation from his littermates and other pack members, he may
whimper and whine off and on the first day in his new den, but
confirm this is his safe haven by ignoring his whimperings. Within
24 hours, you will find he expects his food dish served to him
inside his new den per the mealtime schedule you have ordained for
him. Avoid changing the timing of his daily routine for at
least two weeks after arrival so his psychic and body become finely
tuned to your schedule and timing of events. This reinforces
his security and feeling of well-being as a member of your pack.
The structure is his new rulebook of order. As with maturity
of toddlers, the territory and structure can be expanded and
modified as the dog matures but through at least 6 months of
puppyhood, it is best for both of you to be very consistent about
structure, routine, and expectations. The crate is a
tool to help both of you reach 100% success.
You will watch your new companion dog go from some degree of anxiety
to appreciation of his crate with 48 hours of arrival if you will
follow this process:
I use the phrase "kennel up" , "kennel" or "in" when the dog
is put into the crate for the first time. Of course, the
French Bulldog will turn around to face the door. I never toss a
treat - that would be too much like a bribe. With a tidbit of
a doggie treat in my fingers, I say "good boy" and let the dog take
the treat from my fingers. The pooch needs to recognize his
source of supply!
His agenda may be full of potty walks, playtime, encounters with the
family's children, meeting the neighbors and their dogs, but his
mealtimes are delivered privately - in his crate. His
special chew toys or favorite stuffed animal are conveniently kept
in his crate. Leave the room. Disregard the barks or whines of
the first 24-48 hours. Praise the dog when it is quiet and
comes out of the crate for the next venue.
SCHEDULING OUT-OUTINGS IN THE BEGINNINGS:
1. On awakening in the morning or after a naptime.
2. Upon exiting the crate for any reason.
2. 5 minutes after finishing a meal.
3. After 20-30 mins. freeplay for young puppies.
4. Before your scheduled bedtime and lights out.
Keep in mind that puppies under 12 weeks of age have little
awareness of their physical needs. To punish a puppy under 4
months of age is teaching it covert behavior, fearfulness, to hold
off and urinate or poo in its crate (known as its "safe haven").
Control and holding off for walks is affected by the mealtime
schedule, weather that leads to drinking more water, distractions
caused by change of environment, increase of activity in the
environment, schedule being "off" for the day, and the owner's lack
of consistency or lack of observations. When there is an
accident, the environment ABSOLUTELY MUST BE CLEANED of any residual
odor. There are a number of enzyme cleaners available for flooring
of any type so include an enzyme pet odor cleaner in your "toolbox".