How to Crate Train a French Bulldog

Medium
3-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Contrary to popular opinion, teaching your "Frenchy" to use a crate is far from cruel. In fact, when you give your pup a crate, you are giving him a private place that's all his own. In turn, this will give him a sense of security. More importantly, French Bulldogs love to have a "den" to hide away in and cuddle with a nice blanket or bed.

At the same time, crate training your Frenchy so that he will stay in it while you are not available to supervise him is a great way to protect your pup--and your home--from injury. You can also use crate training as part of your overall potty training process, as most dogs will not eliminate where they sleep. They prefer to have a clean "den" and will learn to hold it for longer periods of time to ensure they don't make a mess in their home. 

Defining Tasks

French Bulldogs are both curious and highly intelligent by nature. You can use these traits to your advantage at the outset of training by encouraging your pup to explore his crate by using toys, treats, a soft bed, or a fluffed-up blanket to "lure" him in. The main intent of this training is to take your pup's natural instinct to find a den and put it to good use by training him to see the crate as his "den", which, in turn, will ensure he wants to spend time in it.

You can start teaching your pup to use his crate from the day you bring him home. At the same time, you can teach the same behavior to an older dog. The only real difference is that it might take you a little longer to teach an older dog to accept the crate as his den. 

Getting Started

Start by shopping for the right crate, one that will fit your pup once he is fully grown. Since Frenchies are not considered to be a "large" breed of dog, you can get away with buying only one crate. It should be big enough for your dog to move around in comfortably once he is fully grown. You will also need a few items to furnish it comfortably for your pup.

The furnishings should include a pad or wall-to-wall carpeting, a comfy bed, some really fun toys, and a blanket. You don't have to go overboard, but you need to make sure he is going to be comfortable and enjoys spending time in his "den." Oh, and you will need a plentiful supply of his favorite smelly treats. 

The A Crate is a Home Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Crate placement is critical
Finding just the right spot for your pup's crate is one of the most vital steps in training your Frenchie to treat it like his home. Choose a spot that is out of the main flow of traffic, but that is in a room where the family spends the majority of their time. Dogs are pack animals and don't like being separated from their pack. Set it up as described above.
Step
2
Say hello to your new home
Pick your pup up, fuss over him a little and then place him in the center of his "den". Let him find the toys and close the door. Allow him to spend a little time nosing around and investigating his surroundings.
Step
3
If he barks
Part of how long you leave him in the crate depends on his reaction to it. If he barks, fusses, and whines, leave him to it. It's perfectly normal for him to voice his displeasure. In fact, let him go on and on until he gets tired of hearing himself. It won't hurt him, and most dogs stop after a few minutes.
Step
4
When he stops
If he doesn't fuss you can open the door and let him out after five minutes at first. If he does, you simply wait for him to stop before you let him out. In either case, take him straight outside to pee. (This works as part of potty training as well.)
Step
5
Making it last
Continue the training started above for a few days (several sessions per day), and then start increasing the time he must stay in the crate before being let out. Never be afraid to give him treats and plenty of praise each time he goes in his crate when told to. Take your time and make it fun, soon you will find your pup snoozing in his den simply because he wants to.
Recommend training method?

The Explorer Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Find a home for his home
Find a spot in your home that can become a permanent home for your pup's crate. Try to choose a spot in the room where your family spends most of their time, you don't want your pup feeling isolated. But, at the same time keep it out of the main flow of traffic. Set it up as above and leave the door open.
Step
2
Set the dinner table
Bring your pup's food and water dishes over to the crate. Place them beside the door and fill them both. Then simply walk away and watch the action. It might take 5 minutes, it might take 5 hours, but at some point, your pup's curiosity and hunger are going to get the better of his caution. At this point, he is going to wander in to find his food. Each time you see him going in, be sure to praise him and give him one of his favorite treats.
Step
3
Time to close the door
After giving your pup a few days to get used to going in and out of his crate, it's time to close the door. If he decides to fuss about it, that's okay, let him. It may take a few minutes, but in time he will stop fussing and settle down.
Step
4
All is calm
Now that your pup has calmed down, you can give him a treat and take him outside for a potty break. This is also a good time to let your pup run around and get a little sunshine and exercise.
Step
5
Staying power
From here, continue working with your pup, increasing the amount of time he spends in the crate in five-minute increments. In time, he should learn to stay in his den for as long as necessary. Never keep a puppy in the crate for more than 2 hours as they cannot hold themselves that long and may injure themselves trying.
Recommend training method?

The Coax Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Find the crate a home
Locate your pup's crate in a spot where the family likes to spend a lot of time, like the living room. Set it up as above, tie the door open and leave it alone.
Step
2
Find your spot
Find a spot where you can sit comfortably and toss treats in the crate to help coax your pup to enter it. Let your pup see and smell a treat, then toss it into the crate. While doing so, introduce your cue word. Choose a simple one like "kennel" or "crate", stick with it and use it with a firm voice. This will help your pup associate the cue with the action.
Step
3
On the outs
When your pup decides it's time to leave the crate, give him the cue "out" as he walks through the door. Praise him when he comes out, but do not give him a treat. You want him to understand that he only gets the goodies when he goes in.
Step
4
Keep working it
The next time he goes in, close the door. If he fusses, leave him there until he stops. If he doesn't, wait five minutes and then let him out.
Step
5
The rest takes time
Keep repeating the above training, adding more time in five-minute increments until your pup will happily go into his crate and stay there for as long as needed. Remember, puppies should never be left in a crate for more than 30 minutes, adolescents up to 2 hours, and adults several hours.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Chapo
French Bulldog
4 Months
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Question
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Chapo
French Bulldog
4 Months

How can I potty train chapo if he hasn’t got his last shot to be able to go outside I just bought him about 2 days ago and can’t figure out the whole potty training he keeps peeing on my carpet and I can’t have him do that we live in a apartment

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
625 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brianda, The main risk is before 12 weeks of age. If pup has had at least one shot at 12 weeks of age or older his vaccines should protect him - shot effectiveness has to do with when the immunity pup inherited from mom dog wears off. Once immunity from mom wears off (which is by 12 weeks of age for the vast majority of puppies), the vaccines should create immunity in most puppies. Puppy shot series are not like boosters, which require repetition for effectiveness - they are given at intervals to ensure pup is protected during that period right when mom's immunity wears off, which could be 7 weeks or 11 weeks. Almost all puppies will have lots moms immunity by 12 weeks however, making shots at that age and beyond effective. A very small amount of puppies will not loose moms immunity until 12-16 weeks but that number is extremely low. (I am not a vet though so talk with your vet to confirm the above information and seek their recommendation for all medical decisions) https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/puppies/puppy-health/puppy-vaccines-why-your-puppy-needs-so-many-shots/ To decrease risk even more, carry pup to areas less frequented by other dogs. Disease like parvo are normally spread through bodily fluids from infected dogs, which can then live on the dirt where the dog went to the bathroom. Carrying pup past the heavy traffic ahead to a more secluded spot, setting pup down once he is away from the general traffic area where other dogs have been, can decrease pup's possible exposure. If all else fails, purchase a real grass pad and set it up on your balcony or terrace area if your apt has one and take pup potty to that for a couple more weeks - being sure to clean up the mess often to avoid neighbor complaints. www.doggielawn.com www.freshpatch.com Check out the Crate Training method and the Tethering method from the article linked below for potty training. Use just the Crate Training method or the crate training method at first, with the tethering method also during times when you want pup to be with you more when you are home. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Kobe
French Bulldog
3 Months
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Kobe
French Bulldog
3 Months

I have only been with my puppy a couple days. I want to crate train and potty pad train. As of now the vet said not to take him outside at all. because he's not had all of his vaccines. but I also work 9 hours a day, 1 hr commute. I do not want to leave pads in his crate. And when I try to crate train he pees inside. as soon as i get him off my bed or the couch he poops anywhere (Including his crate) except on the pads. I also do not want to leave him for the whole day in his crate I hear this is a bad thing.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
625 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stephanie, Check out the article I have linked below and follow the "Exercise Pen" method. You are correct that you should not train him to go potty in the crate; instead use an exercise pen and a disposable real grass pad (the article mentions using a litter box but you can use a real grass pad instead). Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Disposable real grass pad: https://www.amazon.com/DoggieLawn-Disposable-Potty-Real-Grass/dp/B00EQJ7I7Y/ref=asc_df_B00EQJ7I7Y/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309806233193&hvpos=1o4&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4537118779116517335&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015431&hvtargid=aud-643330155750:pla-572651300532&psc=1 Also, check out the free PDF e-book download books and there is a section on how to potty train using an exercise pen with crate attached and a grass pad. https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lola
French Bulldog
8 Months
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Lola
French Bulldog
8 Months

I've had Lola since 9 weeks and tried crate training for the first month. She would always poop and eat it or smear it where she was sitting in the crate even though I did the gradual time in the crate. Finally switched to a playpen with a pee pad and she took to that better. However now that she's older, she has proven she can hold it for 7-8 hours easily, but even being gone for 3 hours she will poop and then make a mess out if it. I keep lots of toys and bones for her, even her favorites. I've recently in the last week have decided to try crate training her again since holding it shouldn't be an issue for her. She's successful for 1-2 hours and sometimes overnight, but she will still poop and pee and sit in it about a third of the time. I'm not sure what to do at this point or if I need professional help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
625 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jennifer, First, make sure that there is nothing absorbent in the crate with her - including a soft bed. I recommend beds like www.primopads.com for potty training and young dogs because they are more durable and non-absorbent. Second, make sure that the crate is only big enough for her to stand up, turn around, and lay down, and not so big that she can go potty in one end and then stand in the opposite end to avoid it. If either of those things aren't met she won't be motivated to hold it in a crate most likely. If those requirements are being met, it might be that she was kept in a confined space as a young puppy and forced to go potty in there regularly and lost her desire to hold it in a confined space - that is typical with puppies bought from pet stores and places that keep them in smaller cages. A rare puppy will simply seem to lack the desire to keep somewhere small clean - that is rare but could be the case. If removing absorbent bedding and resizing the crate doesn't help, then you will not be able to use the crate for potty training. You may be able to use it later after she is potty trained though. There are a lot of directions you could go from here. Without working with you directly it can be hard to say which route is best. If you are home during the day, then using the Tethering method from the article linked below would be what I recommend to get her simply used to holding it for longer under your close supervision, and removing all the pee pads immediately. You need to stop her from pottying inside in the main area of the house for outside potty training to work. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Since you will still have to leave sometimes, I suggest setting up an exercise pen in a room she isn't normally allowed in (you don't want to do this in places you are trying to teach her to hold it in), and putting a disposable real grass pad in the exercise pen for her to potty on. The real grass pad will more closely resemble her outside potty environment than a pee pad - which looks like a small rug. When you are home, keep her tethered to you with a leash and close off access to the grass pad and exercise pen though - since you want pottying outside to be more emphasized while in the rest of the house. Real grass pad - also found on Amazon.com. https://www.freshpatch.com/ There could be other things going on that would be helpful to work directly with a trainer on, at least a trainer over Skype or phone so that you can at least trouble shoot things as you train and talk through your circumstances and what you have tried, better. For example, there could be a medical condition that effects her ability to hold it consistently. You may need to do a better job or removing old urine and poop accident smells so that she isn't encouraged to potty in those areas again - often using an enzymatic cleaner because that will actually break down things at a molecular level. There could be anxiety or an allergy that is contributing to pooping accidents. Anxiety would likely just mean accidents were happening when you leave and not while home though. A food allergy could make her have to poop more often in general. There could be a nutritional deficiency or parasites encouraging poop eating and frequent pooping - although poop eating is often just a boredom based behavior and not medical - it can be worth ruling out for older dogs (it is less common in adult dogs than puppies as a behavior and not a medical symptom). From what you have told me I would start with: 1. The Tethering method from the article linked above. 2. Switching to a real grass pad inside when you do have to leave, and putting the exercise pen somewhere she doesn't normally have access to it when you are home. 3. Rewarding her with treats when she goes potty outside. 4. Make sure accidents are cleaned well with a cleaner that contains enzymes. 5. Possibly teaching her to ring a bell when she needs to go outside. Ring a bell article - peanut butter (or liver paste instead) method: https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Ollie
French Bulldog
4 Months
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Question
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Ollie
French Bulldog
4 Months

Up until this point, Ollie has been allowed to roam freely in our condo. For the most part, he pees/poops on his pee pads like he's trained to do and receives praise when he does so. However, he's recently started having accidents especially if we leave the room to go into our bedroom, he'll pee or poop outside the door, I'm assuming to get our attention or punish us for leaving him. Do we need to be crate training our puppy all day and limit his freedom? We both work full time so we're not able to let him out for short breaks.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
625 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carly, Whether you should crate train him for potty training depends on what your end goal is with potty training. If you want to train him to go potty outside, then yes, you need to crate train him. He will need to be let out at least every 4-5 hours while you are gone off, so you will need to hire a dog walker to come to your home at least once midday if you work full time. Most puppies can hold their bladders for the number of months they are in age plus one - so a 4 months old puppy can likely hold it for 4-5 hours maximum. When you are gone I generally recommend letting puppies outside twice as often though since 4-5 hours is the maximum - so every 2-2.5 hours to speed up training. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Follow that schedule when you are home, adjusting the times like I mentioned above due to his age. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you would like him to continue pottying on pads in the house as an adult and are only planning on transitioning him to outside due to the accidents, then you may be able to continue with inside potty training by changing some things. Puppies that are potty trained inside need just as much help learning to be potty trained as puppies that potty outside. The main difference is that they can have access to an indoor potty while you are away once they learn. For indoor potty training I suggest switching to a real grass pad or litter box. Pee pads confuse some dogs because they are made out of fabric, and many dogs will have accidents on rugs and carpet just as easily as a pee pad when your home is not entirely hardwoods. Puppies also do not automatically go to pee pads unless they are trained to do so - they will just pee wherever they are in many cases. To teach her to go potty on a disposable real-grass pad or litter box, check out the article linked below and follow the Exercise Pen method or Crate Training method from that article. I would guess that the Exercise Pen method will fit your needs best. When you are gone to work, she needs to be confined to the exercise pen while young - this or crate training will also prevent destructive chewing - which tends to increase between 6-8 months again for a while because of jaws developing strength then, and at that age they can actually chew things apart which can be dangerous if pieces are swallowed. Also, if you decide to try litter box training instead of a real-grass pad, watch her around the litter box for the first few days to make sure she doesn't try to eat it. Many do fine but some puppies will occasionally try to eat the litter while young - If that happens, you will need to use grass pads instead. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Disposable real-grass pad options: Fresh Patch: https://www.freshpatch.com/products/fresh-patch-standard?variant=3477439297¤cy=USD&gclid=Cj0KCQjw9pDpBRCkARIsAOzRzitI93qe4WVZ1UPy09j6_Z6_lCLKjlMgzgtjxmZe0DFHbC4QCi0cLTMaAjDTEALw_wcB DoggieLawn: https://www.amazon.com/DoggieLawn-Disposable-Potty-Real-Grass/dp/B00EQJ7I7Y/ref=asc_df_B00EQJ7I7Y/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309806233193&hvpos=1o5&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5463756261144715832&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010791&hvtargid=aud-643330155750:pla-572651300532&psc=1 Porch Potty - I recommend using one of the less expensive ones first and switching to this one once pup is trained if you want a nicer option due to the much higher price: https://www.porchpotty.com/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bryson
French Bulldog
8 Weeks
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Question
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Bryson
French Bulldog
8 Weeks

I want to begin house training my puppy as soon as I get him at 8 weeks old. How long does this process typically take for a French Bulldog? I've heard it can take a bit longer (up to 8 months) for some Frenchies. What suggestions do you have for house training? Thank you!

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Lucy
French Bulldog
4 Years
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Lucy
French Bulldog
4 Years

I want to crate train my new rescue to calm some separation anxiety that may come when I have to start going back to work full time. I'm not sure where to begin, or whether this is the best solution for training my dog to be home alone all day.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
66 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question and congratulations on your new rescue dog! Many dogs love the security of a crate and feel better in their "own den" as opposed to the big house or apartment. You are wise to begin the process now to give Lucy the time to adjust. All three methods described here are great for crate training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate I like the Feeding Method; it will allow Lucy to learn that good things happen in the crate. As well, when you have to leave Lucy in the crate to go out, you can give her a Kong toy with some dog-safe peanut butter (no xylitol, it is toxic!) placed inside. It will give her something to do. Freeze the Kong overnight to make the treat last longer. Another excellent option for dogs is the exercise pen as described very well here: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-set-up-puppy-long-term-confinement-area Good luck and enjoy your new dog!

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Question
Louie
French Bulldog
3 Years
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Question
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Louie
French Bulldog
3 Years

I recently rescued Louie and he has been sleeping in his kennel each night. Currently his kennel is in the living room which is a room I spend a lot of time in. At night when I go into my bedroom to sleep, Louie becomes fussy and whines for a minute or two and would fall asleep. Please keep in mind he is in another room than I am. I've had him for 4 days now, but each night he get more fussy for longer periods of time. Would it be beneficial to have his kennel in the same room that I sleep in? Thanks!

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
66 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I think that having Louie in the crate in your room is perfectly fine. Just make sure that you ignore the whining until he settles down to sleep. If he keeps it up, you can try dog appeasing pheromones - it is an all natural diffuser that emits a calming odor. Exercise Louie well before bed to tire him out. And you are right to expect this situation since he has only been with you for a few days. He needs time to adjust and get used to his new home. Sometimes, white noise (like a fan) is soothing too. Just don't have the fan blowing on him. Good luck and enjoy!

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Question
Widow
French Bulldog
2 Months
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Question
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Widow
French Bulldog
2 Months

What is the best way to get my pup to sleep through the night? She is in a kennel and right now I’m getting up every hour and a half to on a good night 3 hours. So, I’m exhausted to say the least.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
625 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cheri, First, know that at this age, pup will likely need to go potty 2 times her night even once trained until their bladder capacity increases. To minimize the number of times, so that pup is only waking when they actually have to pee I suggest the following though. Practice the surprise method from the article linked below during the day to help pup acclimate to being alone in the crate period - which is likely the reason for part of the wakings now. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Remove all food and water at least 2 hours before bedtime and take pup potty right before you crate them for bed at night. Continue crating. That's great. Otherwise this gets much harder. When pup does wake needing to go potty, take pup potty on a leash. Do not pet, give food, or talk much to pup. This trip should be super boring. After pup goes potty, take pup back inside, place back into the crate, and ignore any crying - pup needs to learn how to go back to sleep after waking for night sleep to improve. If pup wakes before it has been 2 hours, ignore any crying. If it's been at least 2 hours, pup really may need to go potty. Once pup has adjusted to the crate more and doesn't expect potty trips to be much fun, pup should start sleeping longer until their bladder truly is what's waking them up - helping them hold it for twice as long as they could if awake - once awake pup will need to go potty as often as 2-3 hours at this age. As a general rule, the maximum amount of time a puppy can hold it for when awake is the number of months they are plus one - and that time is a max. So once awake pup can't hold it longer than 2-3 hours. If pup learns to stay asleep better, that number can as much as double because the bladder acts differently when asleep vs. awake. Know that what you are experiencing is 100% normal and it typically takes 1-2 weeks of ideal training for most puppies to learn how to sleep well. The first week tends to be the hardest. Be consistent to avoid creating bad habits and help pup learn as soon as possible. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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