The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to French Bulldogs" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: David AndersonWhen it’s finally time to bring your French Bulldog puppy home, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement. But you have to remember that coming to a new home can be scary and stressful for puppies, so be gentle and kind! You should also take the time to prepare your kids for the new puppy and make sure that you have all of the necessary supplies and accessories on hand. You’ll learn about all of this in the following chapter and receive some tips for bringing your puppy home from the breeder, for surviving your puppy’s first night at home, and for your puppy’s very first visit to the vet.
Getting Kids Ready for a Puppy
The French Bulldog is a friendly and playful breed that tends to get along very well with children. Because French Bulldog puppies can be very small, however, you have to remember that they are delicate – you also have to make sure that your kids understand this fact. Taking the time to talk to your kids before you bring your new puppy home is very important. Not only do they need to learn how to safely handle the puppy, but they also need to be prepared to do the chores that are necessary to take care of a dog.
When you talk to your kids, it is important to explain to them that the puppy is not a toy – it is a living thing that deserves respect and gentle treatment. This may be more difficult for younger children to understand than older children, so adjust your strategy as needed to match the maturity level of your children. Make sure you tell your children to handle the puppy gently, to pet it softly, and to avoid making loud noises and sudden movements that could scare the puppy.
Once you’ve brought your new puppy home from the breeder, you may want to give the puppy some time alone to adjust. Put your puppy down in the living room and let it wander and sniff around a little bit. Once it seems to have gotten comfortable, pick it up and put it in the crate for a short nap if it seems tired. While the puppy is napping, gather your children and have them sit in a circle in the living room on the floor.
When your puppy wakes up, bring it into the room and place it on the floor in the middle of the circle. Instruct your children to wait patiently and to let the puppy come to them – make sure they don’t get too loud or too excited. When the puppy approaches your children, let them pet the puppy gently on the head and back. Eventually, if your puppy seems amenable, you can help your children pick up and hold the puppy. If at any time your puppy seems to be getting frightened or overwhelmed, cut the introductions short and resume again later.
Initial Supplies and Accessories
If you want your Frenchie puppy to settle in to its new home quickly, you’ll need to have some supplies and equipment on hand. The most important thing you need is a crate. French Bulldogs are small dogs – they generally don’t weigh more than 25 to 28 pounds. This being the case, you may not need to buy a larger crate as your puppy gets bigger – you can start with one that is the right size for your adult French Bulldog. It should be just big enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down.
In addition to your puppy’s crate, you’ll want some old blankets or towels to make it more comfortable. Once your puppy has been housebroken you can upgrade to a nicer dog bed. You should also have a puppy playpen or some kind of barrier to block off a section of the room to keep your puppy confined when it’s not in the crate. When you are away from home and when you are asleep at night, it is best to keep your puppy in the crate – at least until it is crate trained.
Other things you will need include your puppy’s food and water bowls, an assortment of toys, and some grooming supplies. Food and water bowls should be proportionate to your puppy’s size and should be made from stainless steel or ceramic – these are the materials that are easiest to clean and sanitize. For toys, choose a variety and let your puppy decide which ones it likes best. For grooming supplies, you’ll need a brush, some dog-friendly shampoo, dog ear cleaning solution, and some nail clippers. You’ll also need a collar, leash, and ID tags with your puppy’s name as well as your contact information.
Riding Home from the Breeder
Chances are good that your puppy’s ride home from the breeder will be its very first car ride, so it might be a little scared or stressed. It can be doubly stressful if it is the first time your puppy has been separated from its littermates. Before you get into the car with your puppy, give it a chance to do its business outside – the last thing you want is to be stuck riding home with a messy car. Keep in mind that some dogs get car sick as well, so have (non-toxic) cleaning supplies on hand just in case you need them.
Some breeders recommend that you bring a box lined with blankets to transport your puppy home, or a travel crate. To make sure that your French Bulldog puppy feels safe and secure, however, you should think about wrapping it in a blanket and holding it on your lap for the duration of the trip. When your puppy gets older and becomes used to riding in the car you’ll want to secure it in a travel crate or get a seatbelt-harness system to keep you both safe. For now, however, you want to make your puppy feel safe.
If you live more than thirty minutes away from the breeder, you may want to make a stop to let your puppy out of the car. Puppies are only capable of controlling their bladder and bowels for about one hour per month of age, but the stress of travel can lead to accidents. If you do make a stop, be sure not to expose your puppy to other dogs (or their leavings) because it may not yet be up to date on all of its shots and could be exposed to germs. Just take your puppy to a clean patch of grass and clean up after it.
The First Night at Home
In the same way that the ride home from the breeder can be stressful for your new puppy, so can the first night at home. When you first get home, give your puppy some time to explore the space you have prepared. Some puppies will be so tired out from the trip that they’ll just want to take a nap – that is okay too, just keep an eye out so you can be there when it wakes up. When it does, make sure to let it outside right away.
After your puppy has explored its area, you can allow it to expand its wandering to the rest of the home. Close doors or use baby gates to block off areas that could be hazardous for your puppy and just let it wander. Keep an eye on your puppy and watch for signs that it has to go – it will sniff the ground, circle, and start to squat. When it does, clap your hands to distract it and quickly carry it outside. If it does its business outside, praise and reward it with some tasty treats.
When bed time comes around you should play some games with your puppy to help tire it out. You’ll also want to make sure it has eaten at least a few hours before so it can do its business outside before bed time. For the very first night or two, you might want to set up your puppy’s crate in your bedroom so it doesn’t feel so alone. It may still cry or whine a little, but avoid the temptation to let it into the bed with you unless you plan to let it sleep there for the rest of its life. Bad habits start early.
If you don’t want to keep your puppy in the crate at first, give it a comfy bed to sleep in and tether it nearby so it can’t wander too far. As long as you have tired it out, your puppy should sleep soundly for a few hours. If it starts to whine, it might need to go outside. Remember, puppies can only hold their bladder and bowels for a few hours at first. If your puppy is just whining for attention, you can soothe it but don’t bring it into the bed or give it too much attention. If you cuddle your puppy when it whines, it’ll only learn to whine more. In the morning, be sure to take your puppy out before you do anything else.
Your Frenchie’s First Vet Visit
After your French Bulldog puppy has had a few days to settle in to its new home, you should take it to the vet for a checkup. This is important to do even if the breeder has given all the shots needed for its age. Your veterinarian will be able to verify that the puppy is in good health and will be able to recommend what shots are needed next and when. You’ll be making several trips to the vet for shots over the next few months, so be ready for that.
When you take your new puppy to the vet it is a good idea to help it form a positive rather than a negative association – this will make every other trip easier for you. Generate some excitement with your puppy when you get in the car and give it some treats so it learns to like car rides. When you get to the vet, reward your puppy for being good – you can have the vet give it some treats too.
The First Month at Home
It won’t take long for your French Bulldog puppy to settle in and become your new best friend. Still, caring for a puppy is no easy task and there are some important things you need to do during your puppy’s first month at home to set it up well for the rest of its life. For example, even before you start training your puppy you should start enforcing certain house rules like “no jumping on the furniture” or “no begging at the table”. You’ll also want to start socializing your pup and think about what kind of training method you’re going to use. In this chapter, you’ll learn about these things and also receive an overview of the costs you can expect during your first year of dog ownership.
Enforcing House Rules
As is true for very young children, you can only hope to control your French Bulldog puppy to a certain degree. During that first month at home, your puppy will still be too young for serious housetraining and it won’t be ready for obedience training quite yet. You can, however, start to enforce house rules right away so that your puppy doesn’t develop any bad habits from a young age.
For example, unless you want your puppy to think it’s okay to jump on the furniture, you shouldn’t allow it at all. Each time your puppy jumps up, tell it “No” in a firm voice and place it back on the ground. If you don’t want your puppy to jump into the bed, exercise the same treatment here. You should also discourage your puppy from begging for food at the table. You can do this by feeding your puppy its evening meal at the same time as your dinner or a little before; then you can put it in the crate for a nap while you eat.
In addition to enforcing house rules, you should also try to establish a routine for your puppy as soon as possible. Start the day by letting your puppy outside as soon as you get up and plan to let it out again thirty minutes after each meal and immediately after each nap. Try to stick to a regular schedule for feeding so you can predict when your puppy will need to go out – this will make things easier on you by far. And try to limit your use of treats for reinforcing desired behaviors.
Early Socialization Tips
Your French Bulldog puppy is the most impressionable during the first three to six months of its life, so this is when you want to start socializing it. The goal of socialization is to expose your puppy to a variety of situations so it learns to roll with new experiences. You want your puppy to grow up into a well-adjusted adult, so making sure it learns that new things are not to be feared is an important part of that.
Socializing your puppy is as simple as exposing it to as many new things as possible. That includes appliances around the house, new sights and sounds away from home, people of different ages and races, different modes of transportation, and even different types of animals. Your goal is to ensure that your puppy has positive experiences with all of these new things so it doesn’t grow up into a fearful or nervous adult dog. If your puppy does become fearful or nervous about something during your early socialization, it is okay to comfort but not to coddle it – you don’t want to give the impression that there is indeed something to be afraid of or your puppy will always respond that way to that particular situation.
Picking a Training Method
Again, your puppy is probably still too young to really start obedience training, but you can begin to lay the groundwork. Your first task is to actually decide what method of training you are going to use. Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is not just to make your dog follow your commands – it is to make your dog want to follow your commands. The French Bulldog is a very people-oriented breed that forms strong bonds with family, so as long as you and your dog have a positive bond, training shouldn’t be a problem. French Bulldogs are also a very smart breed, so they tend to pick up on training very quickly – especially when treats are involved.
The best training method to use for French Bulldogs is called positive reinforcement training and it is very simple to do. All you have to do is reward your dog for desired behaviors and avoid reinforcing undesired behaviors. Basically, you give your dog a command and then lead it to perform the desired behavior – when it does, you praise and reward it to reinforce that behavior. After a few repetitions, your dog will come to associate the command with the desired behavior and repeat it on command. As long as you are consistent about using the same commands and in issuing rewards, your dog will learn new commands very quickly.
Cost Breakdown of the First Year
Owning a dog is not cheap, and many inexperienced dog owners underestimate just how much it costs to keep a dog. Not only do you have to factor in the cost of purchasing your puppy as well as all of the initial equipment you need, but you’ll also have to pay for recurring monthly costs such as food, treats, veterinary costs, and more. To give you an idea how much you should be prepared to spend on your French Bulldog, here is a breakdown of estimated costs for the first year of dog ownership:
Puppy Price – The purchase price for a French Bulldog will vary greatly depending on a number of factors. The cheapest option is generally to adopt an adult dog from a shelter – that usually costs $100 to $250 and includes vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery. If you want a puppy, you should only purchase from a responsible breeder. Puppy prices for French Bulldogs tend to be fairly high, ranging from $1,400 to $2,000 – more for rare colors like blue and chocolate.
Dog Crate – In order to set up a special area for your puppy to call its own, you’ll need a dog crate. Your puppy’s crate will also play an important role in housetraining. Because the French Bulldog is a small breed, you’ll probably only need a small crate – you probably won’t need to upgrade to a larger one when your puppy is an adult. A small dog crate should only cost you $30 to $50.
Dog Bedding – To make your puppy’s crate more comfortable, you should line it with blankets or towels until it is housetrained and then upgrade to a more comfortable dog bed. You can get a small dog bed for around $20.
Toys and Accessories – When you first bring your puppy home, you’ll want to have an assortment of different toys available so your puppy can decide what it likes. Then, just replace those favorite toys as they break or wear out. You’ll also need certain accessories such as a small collar and a leash – you may also want to try a harness. You can either start with an adjustable collar or get a larger one as your puppy grows. You should plan to spend $75 to $150 on toys and accessories during the first year.
Supplies – In addition to toys and accessories, you’ll need to have certain supplies on hand such as a bristle brush for grooming, some dog-friendly shampoo and ear cleaning solution, a pair of nail clippers, and some soft cloths for bathing. These things shouldn’t cost you more than $50.
Microchipping – Though this is certainly not a requirement, it is definitely a good idea to have your puppy microchipped. The procedure is painless and it only costs about $30, but it can make a big difference for your Frenchie. If your dog happens to get loose, anyone who finds it can take it to a vet or shelter to scan the microchip which will be linked to your contact information.
Veterinary Care – When your puppy is still young, you’ll need to take it to the vet every few weeks for its initial vaccinations. After the first year, it will only need booster shots once a year or every three years, depending on the vaccine. In addition to shots you should also have your puppy examined by a vet twice a year. The cost for shots will vary but you could end up spending as much as $100 the first year. You’ll also be paying somewhere in the range of $25 to $45 for each vet visit.
Spay/Neuter Surgery – Unless you plan to breed your French Bulldog (and think very carefully before you do), you should have your pup spayed or neutered before six months of age. If you go to a regular veterinarian, spay surgery could cost up to $500, but a vet clinic will be more affordable – usually around $150 to $200. Neuter surgery is much more affordable than spay surgery, generally in the range of $50 to $100, depending on where you go.
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