How to Train a French Bulldog Puppy to Not Bite

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Your new Frenchie pup is the apple of your eye with the looks of a furry angel, and yet when he plays he's more devil than angel. Those needle-sharp teeth have left your arms and hands crisscrossed with scratches and taken the pleasure out of playtime. 

You've tried shouting at him and swatting at him, but this only seems to get him more excited and he keeps coming back for more. Much as you love him this is beginning to feel like an uphill struggle, especially since the kids are now getting screechy whenever for the puppy is near, in anticipation of being bitten. 

You don't want to give up on him, but equally, you can't risk him biting the children. 

What to do? 

Defining Tasks

Puppies have a lot of learning to do before they become adult dogs. One of the ways they do this is to explore things with their mouth. As anyone who owns a puppy is doubtless aware, they do pick up anything and everything in their mouth and require watching all their waking hours lest they do themselves harm. 

However, puppies also have needle-sharp teeth and if they decide your hand is a great toy, then this can be very painful for you. 

Teaching a Frenchie pup not to bite is crucial, since what starts with play in a pup could become a serious problem in an adult dog. Training plugs into the principle of bite inhibition, which is where the pup learns to moderate what he does with his mouth and avoid contact with human skin. This is done by reacting in a similar way that his littermates would if the pup plays too rough a game. 

Getting Started

Teaching a Frenchie pup to have a gentle mouth requires knowledge and timing, rather than fancy equipment. In addition, you need to apply the rules consistently so that the pup understands what's expected of him. Also, explain to other family members how to react should the puppy mouth them. 

In addition it is helpful to have: 

  •  Toys, such as tuggers or soft toys, which keep play at a distance
  • A separate room or space to withdraw into, if the puppy doesn't calm down.

The Teach Bite Inhibition Method

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Step
1
What is 'bite inhibition'?
In an ideal world, the pup learns self-control and stops himself from biting down on skin or a hand. This is called bite inhibition. Most pups learn this to some degree when playing with their littermates. When they bite another pup too hard, that pup will squeal or cry and stop the game. Thus the first pup learns that biting hurts and brings the game to an end. Because most pups want to carry on playing, they then learn to be more careful with how hard they bite. We want to mimic this when it comes to a pup playing with people.
Step
2
Learn to speak 'dog'
Watch a litter of pups at play and you'll notice how they squeal, squeak, or cry when another pup gets too rough. This usually causes the over-enthusiastic pup to back off a little. If the play is still too rough, the playmate may even withdraw and end the game. When we mimic this behavior, such as crying out when the pup bites a hand, this gives signals the pup can understand about how much care he needs to take with human skin.
Step
3
Prepare to play act
Now isn't the time to be introverted or shy. In order to have the puppy understand, you need to be prepared to play act big time, that even the slightest scratch on your skin is really painful. The idea being you want pup to think:"Gosh, these human's are really delicate, I'd better be really careful around them."
Step
4
Squeal and go limp
When the puppy bites your hand, immediately squeal and scrunch your face up as if in pain. Also, let the hand go limp. (Don't withdraw the hand quickly or the pup may think this is a game of chase.) Make whimpering noises and watch for signs of concern from the pup. At which point relax and carry on the game but with a toy rather than your hand.
Step
5
End the game
If you play act like an Oscar winner and the pup keeps on coming, your nuclear option is to end the game. Simply get up and walk away, preferably leaving the room. Let the pup calm down for a couple of minutes before returning. This sends a strong message that rough play ends the fun, and helps the pup learn to be gentle.
Recommend training method?

The Teach Self-Control Method

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Step
1
Understand the idea
This method is a variation on teaching bite inhibition and works well for Frenchies that get super-excited, lose self-control, and then bite out of pure exuberance. The idea is to play in 15-second bursts and then stop briefly, only resuming play when the puppy is calm. This prevents the pup getting hyper and into trouble because he's too excited to stop himself.
Step
2
Plan ahead
Know ahead of the game what you intend to do. Also, apply the rules consistently so the Frenchie understands the consequences if he doesn't calm down. It's helpful to have a watch or phone in order to time 15 seconds and prompt you to stop play.
Step
3
Engage in a game with a toy
Sit on the floor with one of your Frenchie's favorite toys. Wave the toy around to get his interest and start a game of tug. After 15 seconds, stop the game and put the toy down. If the pup continues to play with the toy, ignore him but let him play. However, you will only pick the toy up and resume the exciting game once he has sat down and is calm.
Step
4
Wait for the pup to sit
When you pause the game after 15 seconds, wait for the dog to visibly calm. He may well sit down and look at you , wondering why you stopped the game. As soon as he is calm, praise him, pick up the toy and re-engage for another 15 seconds. Keep repeating this cycle of short play followed by a brief period of calm. This is usually sufficient to prevent the pup becoming hyper and biting out of excitement.
Step
5
When to walk away
If when you pause the pup keeps mobbing you, jumping and mouthing in an attempt to get your attention, then get up and walk away. If necessary, leave the room for a few minutes. Only return once he is calm. Again, you are teaching him that calm behavior is rewarded with more play.
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The Do's and Don'ts Method

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Step
1
Don't: Smack the puppy
Smacking or physical punishment is likely to get the pup even more excited, which makes him more likely to bite rather than less. Alternatively, if you smack so hard that it is painful, the pup may stop biting but because he is fearful of you, rather than having learned not to bite.
Step
2
Do: Supervise children with a puppy
The excited squeaks and squeals of children can quickly over-excite a puppy, and result in play biting. The child might then pull away, which gives the pup cues to chase. The child's increasing distress only revs up the pup and reinforces his bad behavior. Avoid this by supervising them at all times, and teaching children the correct way to react.
Step
3
Do: Seek professional help
If your Frenchie seems unusually mouthy and you are struggling to cope, do seek the help of a certified dog trainer or behaviorist. A young puppy is at a crucial age for learning and bad behaviors or inappropriate actions that aren't corrected now may become a big problem in an adult dog. However, professionals will be able to guide you on effective ways to nip the problem in the bud.
Step
4
Don't: Use hands and feet as toys
Never tease the puppy with your fingers or invite the dog to play with hands. This teaches him that hands are toys and therefore fair game.
Step
5
Do: Encourage play with toys
Opt for toys that remove your hands from direct contact with the dog's mouth. Tug toys, cuddly toys, or balls to chase are all good ideas. Not only do they keep your skin safe but the dog automatically looks for toys to play with rather than human skin.
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Written by Pippa Elliott

Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
BOSA
French Bulldog
6 Months
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Question
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BOSA
French Bulldog
6 Months

how can i train my puppy to stop biting & ripping everything. he tends to bite his pee pad & he bit all my bed .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Courtney, Check out the article I have linked below on chewing. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cooper Valdivia
French Bulldog
1 Year
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Question
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Cooper Valdivia
French Bulldog
1 Year

He is very aggressive and he just attacked me and my family just got hurt with minor bites this happens a lot and we are trying to train him it’s working a bit but not with me he tried to attack me and my family they got hurt plz I need help with this

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Emily, First, at one year of age, this is probably not the type of biting that the puppy article is speaking about. Puppy biting is often done in play, without meaning to harm you. Pup simply lacks bite control and social skills yet, so this needs to be taught gently. Intentional bites that break the skin and are in response to something, like you taking something from pup, petting them when they don't want to be petted, ect...That's aggression and is dealt with more seriously. I would start by introducing a basket muzzle and having pup wear that when not crated. Pup should be crated when not supervised, at night, and while eating their meals in the crate until things start improving. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s When and why is pup biting right now? To be of more help, I would need a lot more details on pup's bite history, when pup tends to bite, your relationship with pup, and anything else you feel could be related. This is the type of issue, I usually recommend hiring a professional trainer with a lot of experience with aggression to work with you in person for if that's an option financially. You can learn about certain types of aggression on your own by seeing cases of aggression being addressed in different ways, depending on the dog and type of aggression, such as with this trainer. Be sure to start with safety measures like the muzzle though, and get professional help if you can to oversee and guide such training. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLuwNCisD0NiPQlGXtMKf_mfpUAdN9HEq Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Milo
Frenchie Pug
10 Weeks
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Milo
Frenchie Pug
10 Weeks

Milo I’m afraid is a complete nightmare when it comes to biting. He really seems aggressive rather than playing. He can be a good boy and so far sits, gives paw, lays down and rolls over on command.
He’s chewing furniture, scrapping at carpets and more often than not, 💩 in the house even though we have taken him outside. I know he’s a puppy and expected hard work, but the biting is becoming too much as well as painful. Tried all techniques, squealing, ignoring, tap on nose, water spray but to no avail. Any ideas please. Thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tracy, I recommend teaching the following commands. These will take about a month to train at this age, so try not to get discouraged if you don't see tons of progress the first week. Work on this often daily, for shorter periods of time. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Out - move away: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I also recommend crate training - the crate is huge for potty training help, but it's also a good place to send pup with a dog food stuffed chew toy to give a rest period. A lot of puppies will bite more when overtired and need naps every 1-2 hours at this age. Surprise method for crate training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Crate Training method for potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside For the chewing, check out this article. You will also find crate training and the Leave It command useful for that behavior, as well as giving dog food stuffed chew toys to encourage toy interest - stuffing them helps a dog learn to like their own toys - it's not automatic for a dog to chew on rubber instead of shoes at first. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Finally, check out the free PDF e-book After You Get Your Puppy, which can be downloaded at the link below. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Koufax
French Bulldog
6 Months
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Question
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Koufax
French Bulldog
6 Months

Koufax was our first puppy and we spoiled him WAY TOO MUCH. However, I was training him really small to learn to sit, stand, and lay down, and paw. Whenever I would try to discipline Koufax...my husband would come in and reward him which is NOT showing him. Koufax is so sweet, however he can be aggressive and just start biting and jumping on us and does not listen when we tell him No. Sometimes he does listen and when he wants to be stubborn...oh well..he sure can be stubborn.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Joanna, First, I recommend desensitizing pup to a basket muzzle so you can train an interact with pup without being bitten and without reacting in a way that would encourage more biting or damage your relationship with pup. A basket muzzle will be more comfortable than a standard one and will allow pup to open their mouth while wearing it still, and keeping a drag leash on pup while you are home to supervise. Muzzle introduction video - for a dog who is new to the muzzle, progress through the process very slowly over several days, at a pace pup can stay relaxed at, rather than doing it in one sitting like the dog who is already comfortable in the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s With those safety measures in place, I recommend teaching the following commands, desensitizing pup to being touched and handled, and following the commands from the listening article I have linked below to address respect and boundary needs. If you don't see things improve, feel unsure how to proceed, things get worse, or feel you need additional help I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues and will come to your home, like a private trainer, to work with you in person for this. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Listening methods - all three - including Working method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Step Toward method and Leash method (Leash with guest especially) to address jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump To work on getting pup used to touch and handling use pup's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold their collar and give a treat. Touch their tail gently and give a treat. Touch their belly, their other paws, their chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Depending on the details of pup's behavior, there might also be other specific things that need to be addressed, like resource guarding, possessiveness of you, or a lack of socialization or impulse control, ect...You would need to work with someone experienced in this area for a more comprehensive protocol, that includes things I might be missing based on my limited information and interaction with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Stitch
French Bulldog
1 Year
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Question
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Stitch
French Bulldog
1 Year

My dog started trying to bite me every time I grab a napkin and try to lean up one of his mess. He used to never do this behavior before, the only recent change we've made is we got another puppy about 2 months ago and he is only 3 months old (my first pupp is about to turn 1). Could this aggressive behavior be attributed to them play biting? They tend to get a little rough, since the little one is soon to start teething. That's my theory. He's bitten me once already to the point it did hurt on my middle finger tip. he kinda noticed that it hurt me and walked away like in a sorry manner. It seems like its just getting worse and I'm afraid if we have visitors over he might do the same. I need some input....

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1109 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rogelio, This sounds like something where pup's body language needs to be observed, to tell if this is true aggression or mouthing due to over-excitement. Playing rough with another puppy could be bringing out mouthing and pup may think the napkin is a fun thing to attack. I recommend working on the Leave It command. Start with treats like the method mentions, moving onto clothing like the method also mentions, but then also include practice with napkins once pup is good with treats and clothes. Leave It method https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite You may also find teaching Place and Out helping. Out means leave the area, and when you need to clean up a mess, you could send pup to Place or out of the room while you do so, to avoid the temptation of biting the napkin to begin with. Out is also a good command to give pup when they are really wound up and need to calm down. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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