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
Kobe
French Bulldog
3 Months
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Question
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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
420 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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Question
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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
420 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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Question
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
420 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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