The Art of Housetraining a French Bulldog Puppy

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 Anderson

When your French Bulldog is still a small puppy you can’t expect it to be able to hold its bladder and bowels for long. But for each month of age, it gains another hour of control. It doesn’t make any sense to start housetraining your puppy until it can control itself for a few hours, but you can start as early as you like with good outdoor potty habits. In this chapter, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of training your puppy to go indoors or outdoors. You’ll also receive tips for supervising your puppy and a detailed step-by-step guide for crate training when your puppy is ready to make the transition.

Inside or Outside?

French bulldog puppy
Photo Courtesy – Tanya Norris

One of the benefits of small-breed dogs like the French Bulldog is that they are easy to keep in apartments, condos, and other small living spaces. They are also particularly popular for urban dwellers who may or may not have much outdoor green space. Many urban dwellers choose to train their dogs to go indoors on pee pads since they can’t reliably take their dogs outside multiple times per day. If you choose a French Bulldog, you’ll have to decide which option is right for you.

Before you decide to train your puppy to go indoors or outdoors, you need to consider a few different factors. One thing to think about is, of course, your living situation. Do you have an outdoor green space where your puppy can relieve itself? And do you have convenient access to that space as often as needed? If you live in a high-rise apartment building in an urban area, the answers to these questions may be “No”. In this case, you might consider training your puppy to go indoors.

In addition to considering your living situation, you also need to think about the implications of training your Frenchie to do its business indoors. Yes, you will be training it to go on pee pads in a designated area. But you are still teaching it that it is okay to do its business indoors. Some dog lovers argue that this could increase the likelihood that your dog will have accidents indoors in unapproved locations. If you later decide to train your dog to go outdoors, you may also find it more difficult.

French bulldog digging
Photo Courtesy – Tanya Norris

The benefit of training your dog to do its business outdoors is, of course, that it won’t be doing it in the house. You will still be responsible for cleaning up after your dog, but you won’t have to deal with the sight or smell of urine and feces inside your home. You also have the option to train your puppy to go in a designated spot in your yard to make your task of cleanup that much easier.

Keeping an Eye on Your Puppy

French bulldog grass
Photo Courtesy – Tanya Norris

No matter where you choose to train your puppy to do its business, you’ll have to supervise it closely throughout the training process to prevent it from having an accident in the house. Keeping your puppy on a specific feeding schedule will make it easy for you to predict when it will have to go, but you’ll still need to keep an eye on it. If it starts to sniff at the floor, walk in circles, or squat, an accident is just moments away – clap your hands to distract it then pick it up and quickly take it to the designated location where it is allowed to do its business, whether indoors or out.

To make your task of supervising your puppy a little easier, try to keep it in the same room as you at all times. You can easily accomplish this by closing the door or using baby gates to keep it from leaving. Remember to take it outside (or to the designated potty spot) every hour or two so it has a chance to do its business. If it doesn’t have to go, take it right back inside instead of letting it wander around, so it learns what is expected when you take it to that location.

Treats for Good Behavior

French bulldog playing
Photo Courtesy – Tanya Norris

An important part of training your Frenchie to do anything is to reward it for good behavior. When it comes to housetraining, this means rewarding your puppy for doing its business in the designated area. If you are training your puppy to go in a specific area outdoors, you want to reward it for doing so – if it has a designated potty spot indoors, reward it for using that. The best thing to do is to take your puppy directly to that spot when you take it outdoors to do its business and give a verbal command like “Go pee” so it learns to associate the place with the desired action. When it uses the spot, praise it excitedly and give treats to reinforce the behavior.

Rewarding your puppy for good behavior should be applied to other aspects of training as well, not just housetraining. For example, if you want to encourage your puppy to play nicely with other household pets, praise and reward it for doing so. If you want your puppy to drop what it’s chewing on when you say, “Drop it,” then praise and reward it when it does that. It is really that simple – rewards are highly motivating to dogs.

Crate Training Tips and Tricks

When you are ready to housebreak your puppy, the ideal method to use is called crate training. Basically, you teach your puppy to do its business only in one particular area and supervise it all hours of the day to ensure that it only goes in that area. When you are unable to supervise your puppy, either overnight or when you’re away, you should keep it in the crate to keep it confined so it doesn’t have an accident. If you teach your puppy to like the crate it will come to think of it as its den, and dogs have a natural aversion to soiling their dens.

French bulldog indoor
Photo Courtesy – Tanya Norris

Once you’ve gotten into a routine for taking your puppy outside to do its business, all you have to do is be consistent. To help you see how all of these steps work together, here is a step-by-step guide for crate training:

  1. Pick a specific area of the yard where you want your puppy to do its business.
  2. Take your puppy to this location every hour or two throughout the day and let it do its business, if it needs to go.
  3. When you take your puppy to this spot, give it a verbal command like “Go pee” so it learns what is expected – later, once your puppy is housebroken, you can just open the door and tell it to “Go pee” and it’ll go directly to the designated spot.
  4. If your puppy does its business in the correct area, praise it excitedly and reward it with treats – if it doesn’t have to go, just take it back inside and try again twenty minutes later.
  5. Supervise your puppy closely when you are at home so it doesn’t have an accident – if it shows signs that it has to go, take it outside immediately.
  6. When you are unable to watch your puppy, put it in the crate or keep it confined in its area.
  7. Always let your puppy outside before confining it and immediately after releasing it – it will also need to go thirty minutes after a meal and immediately after waking from a nap.

In addition to following these steps, you should avoid keeping food and water with your puppy when it is confined to reduce the risk for an accident. You should also make sure not to keep your puppy confined for longer than it can hold its bladder and bowels – about one hour for each month of age.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to French Bulldogs" by David Anderson, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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