How to Crate Train a French Bulldog

How to Crate Train a French Bulldog
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-6 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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The A Crate is a Home Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

The Explorer Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Coax Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By PB Getz

Published: 02/14/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Koko

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French Bulldog

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12 Weeks

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She will go in her cage through the the day but when it comes to night she cry’s and cry’s she’s also keeps seeing and pooing in the house a lot than she should by now after having her a month. She’s being very stubborn

July 5, 2022

Koko's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Sophie, I recommend using the tethering method or crate training method from the article I have linked below for the potty training, but probably needs their freedom managed more strictly to prevent more accidents so they can start associating the home with cleanliness. Some puppies are simply harder to potty train than others and need things a bit stricter and take a bit longer, so keep at it. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside How long is pup barking for at night? Are you taking pup potty when pup cries and it's been at least 3-4 hours? Pup will genuinely need to go potty if they are asking and it's been at least that long so don't ignore those cries just yet. If pup is barking for less than thirty minutes at a time, I would give it more time. Anything thirty minutes or less is still normal, as long as you aren't giving attention or rewarding that barking. There are generally two options to address the barking. The first option is to practice the Surprise method during the day to help pup developing a habit of being quieter in the crate, then at night, simply ignore the crying (but don't give treats for quietness during nighttime practice, just daytime practice). If pup isn't barking at all, you can still reward the quietness while pup is crated during the day but go ahead and skip to pup being closed in the crate and waiting for five minutes of quietness before rewarding...If pup cries some, then reward as soon as pup gets quiet at first, and work up to the five minutes and longer. I would try this way first either way with pup being the age they are. The second option is to correct the crying when you know pup doesn't have to go potty (it hasn't been at least 3-4 hours). 5 months is usually the earliest I would recommend doing this unless your facing something like an eviction notice if pup doesn't get quiet sooner. With neighbors who might complain, it's some times necessary not to wait it out to avoid complains that could jeopardize your living situation if you don't own. Otherwise, I would practice a gentler method first and if things aren't better by five months, do this. Things will likely improve before that point though. To correct pup, first, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As she improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating her during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever she cries in the crate, tell her "Quiet". If she gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if she stays quiet. If she continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at her side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever she cries. When she cries at night or early morning (after taking pup potty then returning to the crate if it's been a while), or pup cries before 4 hours (so you know it's not a potty issue), tell her Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if she doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. Don't give treats at night/morning though - practice during the day proactively to help pup learn that quiet is good, since you don't want to encourage pup to stay awake at night with food, but to go back to sleep instead. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 6, 2022

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melo

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French Bulldog

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3 Months

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im trying to crate train him he eats in his crate he can hang out in his crate, he even knows when to go to his wee wee pad during the day when we let him free in the apartment the only trouble we have is that for the first night he pooped twice in the crate and he did not alert us when he wanted to go,only after he was done and was uncomfortable. what should i do

May 10, 2022

melo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Ariel, First, make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel, otherwise that may be why pup is going potty in there. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the smell and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. Pay attention to the frequency of potty trips also. If pup isn't pooping outside at least two times during the day, then pup might be going in the crate because they hold it too much in the day. When that's the case, you want to encourage going potty more often during the day. Using an exercise pen so pup can't just rush, or walking pup around the pee pad on leash or taking pup outside to go potty so the movement stimulates the need to poop, or spraying a potty encouraging spray on the pee pads before you want pup to go potty there, or rewarding pup with a treat when they poop there, and taking pup to the pad to go 15-45 minutes after they eat meals, are all important ways to encourage pooping during daytime hours. Many puppies will get too busy and distracted to go often during the day, and although they can't hold their pee, many can hold their poop when they should have gone- until they finally can't, like at night. In those cases, pup needs you help insisting they finish going and slow down to go. Crate Training method or Exercise Pen method for encouraging pup to fully go potty during the day. this method mentions a litter box, but can be used with other inside potties too, like pee pads or grass pads. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy If you are trying to teach pup to go potty outside, not inside, check out the crate Training and Tethering method from the article I have linked below, and remove the pee pads from inside. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are still struggling after applying the above suggestions, then unfortunately pup may have already lost his desire to hold it while in a confined space. This commonly happens when someone accidentally teaches pup to do so by placing something like a puppy pad on one end of a larger crate or confining a puppy in a cage where they are forced to pee through wired flooring - like at a pet store and some shelters, or when pup was crated repeatedly for so long that they were forced to eliminate in the crate over and over again. There are rare puppies who simply do it anyway, even though nothing happened to teach that. In those cases you can try feeding pup his meals in there to discourage it but most of the time you simply have to switch potty training methods until he is fully potty trained - at which point you might be able to use a crate for travel again later in life. Check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Whenever you are home, use the Tethering method. Also, set up an exercise pen in a room that you can close off access to later on (pup will learn it's okay to potty in this room so choose accordingly). A guest bathroom, laundry room, or master closet with good ventilation are a few options. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen if you have other options. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, and instead of a litter box like the article mentions, use a real grass pad to stay consistent with teaching pup to potty on grass outside - which is far less confusing than pee pads (Don't use pee pads if the end goal is pottying outside!). Since your goal is pottying outside only use the Exercise Pen at night and when you are not home. When pup will hold his bladder while in the rest of the house consistently and can hold it for as long as you are gone for during the day and overnight, then remove the exercise pen and grass pad completely, close off access to the room that the pen was in so he won't go into there looking to pee, and take him potty outside only. Since he may still chew longer even after potty training, when you leave him alone, be sure to leave him in a safe area that's been puppy proofed, like a cordoned off area of the kitchen with chew toys - until he is out of the destructive chewing phases too - which typically happens between 1-2 years for most dogs with the right training. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - Also found on Amazon www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com You can also make your own out of a piece of grass sod cut up and a large, shallow plastic storage container. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 11, 2022


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