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How to Train a French Bulldog

Woman sitting outside with French Bulldog
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It’s no surprise that French Bulldogs have ranked in the top ten most popular dogs for years. Not only are these playful pups adorable, they’re adaptable and just as happy in a city apartment as they are on a country farm. 

French Bulldogs pack a ton of personality into a small, sturdy package, which makes them the perfect dogs for people looking for a lively and charming companion. 

Are French Bulldogs Easy to Train?

While this clownish breed might have a reputation for being stubborn, it’s not hard to raise a well-trained French Bulldog. The reality is that they’re clever dogs that are willing to work when given the right kinds of motivation. 

Like all dogs, French Bulldogs thrive when trained with dog-friendly positive reinforcement methods, using food and fun to achieve training goals. French Bulldogs are people-oriented dogs that are happy to learn new lessons and can master the full suite of polite puppy behaviors.

French Bulldog Training: When to Start

The best time to begin French Bulldog puppy training is now! Like all dogs, it’s best to begin working on foundation behaviors during puppyhood, but even untrained adult Frenchies can master good manners. 

French Bulldog puppies as young as eight weeks old can start learning basic obedience cues like sit, down, coming when called, and greeting without jumping up. But it’s never too late to begin French Bulldog training. 

While adult Frenchies might be more set in their ways, positive training methods and a pocket full of treats can sway even the most stubborn of students.

French Bulldog Training Tips and Advice

Giving training treat to French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs can be stubborn and high energy, so make sure to follow these tips when working on training exercises with your Frenchie friend.

Keep it Quick

When considering how to train a French Bulldog remember that short, upbeat training sessions are the key to success. Brief training sessions help to keep your French Bulldog’s focus on you, and having fun together while you train will make the lessons feel like a game instead of school.

Treat Wisely

Short, stocky French Bulldogs put on weight easily, so training treats should be small. Using a “trail mix” of your dog’s daily food ration combined with tiny, savory treats is a safe way to provide rewards for a job well done that won’t impact your Frenchie’s waistline.  

Safety First

Frenchies have short snouts, which means they’re prone to breathing difficulties. Avoid overexertion during training, particularly in warm weather. Always provide fresh water, especially when working outside, and take frequent breaks if your French Bulldog starts to pant heavily during training.

How to Potty Train a French Bulldog

French Bulldog puppy outside

Although French Bulldogs have a reputation for being challenging to potty train, Frenchie parents don’t have to follow special rules to end up with a housetrained companion. Like all dogs, potty training success requires supervision, patience, and rewards for good potty choices. Here’s how to help your French Bulldog succeed.

Stick to a Routine 

No matter your Frenchie’s age, keeping a predictable schedule will help make potty training straightforward. Scheduling meals, walk times, play and rest, and the resultant potty trips provides your dog with a predictable daily routine. Keeping up routines will help you predict when your dog needs to head outside.

Remember that your Frenchie will have to potty after meals, after vigorous play sessions (and younger pups might need to take a break during play), after naps and after coming out of the crate. There’s no such thing as too many potty trips during the early stages of training! 

Supervise at All Times

Supervision is key when it comes to figuring out how to potty train a French Bulldog. Some pups try to sneak off to a different room to relieve themselves so keeping an eye on your Frenchie enables you to pick up on his “gotta go” body language so you’ll know when it’s time to head outside. Setting up baby gates to reduce your dog’s potential “strike zone” and using a crate when you’re not around to supervise will also help to speed the potty training process.

Go Outside With Your French Bulldog

Always accompany your Frenchie outside when it’s potty time. Not only can you confirm that he actually went (remember, dogs can get easily distracted and forget to go!), you can also reward him immediately after he finishes to help reinforce that outside potty is a very good thing.

How to Crate Train a French Bulldog

French Bulldog near crate

Most dogs appreciate having a safe space where they can relax and a well-sized crate taps into this natural denning instinct. Your French Bulldog’s crate should be sized so that your dog can comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. 

Introduce your French Bulldog to the crate slowly, giving him ample opportunities to hang out inside before you close the door and leave for the first time. Feeding meals in the crate and giving treat-stuffed busy toys inside can help speed the acclimation process.

The crate should be kept in a part of the house that’s away from the hustle and bustle, but not so far away that your Frenchie feels isolated when he goes inside. Remember, while the crate is a wonderful tool during the house training process, over-crating isn’t fair to your dog. Leaving a dog crated during an eight-hour workday is unkind and can lead to health issues like urinary tract infections.

When to Consider Professional Training for Your French Bulldog

If you start to feel frustrated with your French Bulldog or get the sense that the stubborn gene is especially strong in your pup, it’s a good idea to seek outside training help. 

A certified dog trainer can help you create a training plan that will set you and your Frenchie up for success, and you’ll end up with a well-mannered buddy for life.

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