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
GHOST
French Bulldog
8 Weeks
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GHOST
French Bulldog
8 Weeks

JUST TRAINING A FRENCHIE

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Hello! You can start with basics such as sit, stay, leave it, and lay down. Training one command per week and working on commands for about 30 minutes a day is a great place to start with training your dog. There are "how to" articles online for training these behaviors.

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Chapo
French Bulldog
4 Months
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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
833 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
833 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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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
833 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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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
833 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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Bryson
French Bulldog
8 Weeks
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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!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Julianne, How long it takes will depend a lot on the method you use, how consistent you are, and the individual dog. Expect it to take at least 3 months for puppy to be in the habit of holding it between scheduled potty trips without having to be confined to do so. Expect at least 3 more months before pup will tell you when they need to go out - so that pup is good at holding it if you are good about keeping the schedule but you still need to keep the schedule thoroughly. I highly suggest using the crate training method I have linked below. Many dogs who are very hard to potty train are difficult because they are given too much freedom, allowed to have to many accidents due to a lack of supervision and management, not taken potty often enough, punished a lot for accidents instead of rewarded for successes, and expected to alert when they need to go too soon, rather than keeping a good schedule for the dog. If you can avoid those things by following the method quickly, potty training will often go much faster than it would otherwise. Each dog is different though, and 3 months to learn to hold it, and 6 months to alert, is just an average. As long as you are being consistent, keep at it, and know that puppies each go at their own pace. Crate Training method - the method mentions German Shepherds but can be used for any breed and is the one I recommend the most. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
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
104 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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Louie
French Bulldog
3 Years
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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
104 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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Widow
French Bulldog
2 Months
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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
833 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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King Louie
French Bulldog
11 Weeks
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King Louie
French Bulldog
11 Weeks

I would like to know what is the best way to potty train a puppy and how to help him and get him to potty outside of the house.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am sending you quite a bit of information on potty and crate training just in case you want to use the crate to help with potty training. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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Louie
French Bulldog
10 Months
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Louie
French Bulldog
10 Months

My Louie is too attached to me and doesn’t want to be alone. He learned how to claim out of the play pen where his crate is and doesn’t stop the crying when I leave him there. I really need help since my husband is so tired of this behavior and wants to get rid of him. Help please

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. It sounds like there may be some separation anxiety going on. Because this behavior issue is complex, I have a lot of information to send you. With some time and practice, this is something that can be turned around over the next month or so. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

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