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 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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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.
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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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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Dutch
French Bulldog
8 Months
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Question
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Dutch
French Bulldog
8 Months

Dutch is 8 months old. When we have visitors he gets aggressive and wants to bite them. This only started about 6-8 weeks ago after he got de-sexed. How do we stop this behaviour?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ramon, There are a number of things that could be going on here. It sounds like aggression by your description, but make sure it is not just normal play mouthing. In person it should be obvious to a trainer. Assuming it's aggression, which is a far more serious issue, it could be fear based, territorial, dominance, genetic, or something else. How you treat it will depend partially on why he is acting aggressive. If it is directly related to him being neutered, then it's probably defense-fear based from being touched by strangers while he was in pain. A get them before they get you mentality, for example. It is more likely his kennel stay than actually being neutered as long as he is not still in pain currently. Your vet should be able to evaluate if there is pain still from the procedure. If there is, then that needs to be addressed first. Once you make sure that he is not in any pain currently, then I would highly suggest hiring a professional trainer to work one-on-one with you. Ideally someone from a training group that has multiple trainers so that Dutch can be exposed to a number of trainers as "strangers", so that they can build his trust around strangers and make his experience around strangers positive while showing you how to manage his behavior from your end. I find that a combination or firm interruption and refocusing on you combined with a lot of positive associations with strangers through treat tossing and calm interactions from a safe distance tend to work well, but hire a professional to help. You need someone to evaluate what type of aggression it is and to be present during training sessions to read his body language and teach you what to do while you are looking at his responses. Do not wait to hire a trainer. This problem will likely only get worse if it is not addressed and could become a long term issue. Addressed early right now he might be able to get over it completely. Make sure that the trainer you hire has successful experience dealing with aggression. Not all trainers are experienced with it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mesut
French Bulldog
2 Years
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Mesut
French Bulldog
2 Years

When my husband or me are alone with him in the bed there’s no problem but when the other one joins... he starts barking and bitting the last one that came, he starts acting crazy, jumping in the pillow, forcing himself through the pillows (always barking) and then he tries and bites (hard, as if he is mad or something)

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lara, Teach Mesut a "Place" command that he is not allowed to break. As soon as he starts getting wound up or looks like he will tell him "Place" and have a dog bed or something that he must go to on the floor. To teach him "Place" watch the video that I have linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIGq_5r0DeE If he continues to bark while the bed, then teach him the "Quiet" command using the "Quiet" method from the second article that I have linked below. Once he knows the "Quiet" command, then tell him "Quiet" if he barks and if he does not stop correct him with as little interaction as you can to give a moderate correction. Teach the "Quiet" command first though or you will not be communicating properly. The correction is for disobeying something he understands. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark The "Place" command will teach your dog to be self-controlled while watching you interact, without him being able to act rudely, disobey, or get between you. You want him to have to handle the two of you interacting and to adjust his attitude by requiring him to be self-controlled and obedient. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Stitch
French Bulldog
5 Months
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Stitch
French Bulldog
5 Months

He likes to bite feet a lot. Whenever you walk past him. I have tried the bitter apple spray , yelling no and trying to walk Away . He just follows and bites at your shoes , pants anything . Besides that he is a dream fully potty trained and goes on walks but the biting is driving me insane .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vanessa, First, start by teaching Stitch the "Leave It" command. Once he knows the leave it command around treats, then practice it with shoes and socks. When he can leave the shoes and socks alone, then move the shoes and socks around in front of him and practice with those. Only reward him with a treat from behind your back or another nearby location. Don't reward him with the same treats you tell him to leave alone. You want him to learn to completely forget about the item he is supposed to be leaving alone and not simply wait to get it. When he obeys and leaves your stationary or moving shoes and socks alone, reward him with treats. When he can leave them alone while you move them with your hands, then put them on and practice walking around in front of him and telling him to "Leave It". Reward him when he leaves them alone, backs away from them, or leaves the area to avoid them. After he can do this during training sessions, then whenever he attacks you during real life tell him to "Leave It" firmly but calmly, and freeze your movement so that it will not be a fun game of chasing you for him. If he will not stop biting you when you tell him to leave it, then purchase a "Pet Convincer", which is a handheld pressurized air canister. Avoid the scented ones. You want just plain air. After you tell him to "Leave It" and freeze, if he keeps biting, then spray his shoulder or chest with the pet convincer air and tell him "Ah Ah" in a firm voice. Continue to stay still after you do this and repeat it if he goes back to biting, which he likely will try to at first. Stay calm, firm, and boring. If you start moving a lot or yelling that will encourage more biting because he will think it is fun. When he gives up and stops trying to bite, give him a treat and calmly praise him. If he stops biting before you correct him or when you tell him to leave it when he is just thinking about biting, then also give him a treat. I would suggest carrying the pet convincer and a few small treats your pocket while you are around him until he learns not to bite. It is important that you also teach him the "Leave It" command and not just skip to using the pet convincer. Do this so that he will know what to do instead of biting you and will more easily be able to control himself. Otherwise he might get more riled up when you spray him with the air. You want to communicate what he should do , "Leave It", discipline him with the air for disobedience while telling him "Ah Ah"-which means no, and reward him for doing the correct behavior so that he will choose to do the correct thing on his own more in the future. To teach leave it command check out this article I have linked below and follow the "Leave It" method found there. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bella
French Bulldog
3 Months
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Question
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Bella
French Bulldog
3 Months

My dog keeps biting hard to the point where I’m bleeding, we tried putting her in the cage and hitting her softly for her to stop but she doesn’t stop. She loves biting shoes and sandals. And when she’s outside she’ll jump and chase you biting.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Eaman, I would highly suggest enrolling Bella in a puppy Kindergarten class that includes time for off-leash puppy to puppy play and practices having the owners get the puppies use to being handled and touched. Puppies learn to control the pressure of their mouths by playing with one another. Check out the article that I have linked below. It has a couple more options for teaching your puppy not to mouth. Teach Bella the "Leave It" command using the "Leave It" method from the article I have linked below so that she can learn what you want her to do instead of bite, rather than simply thinking that you are playing when you correct her. As hard as it is, you need to remain calm and firm when she starts biting. It you cry out or yell, or move around a lot, then she is likely to think it's a game of chase or wrestle and will get even more excited. She sounds like she may be a puppy who needs a little more structure and consistency than some, so this is especially important for her. In general, when you give her a command that she has already learned, then also firmly but gently insist that she obey until she does. At her age this might look like telling her to sit, and then blocking her view and keeping her leash tight enough that she can only stand in one spot while you wait for her to give in. It could take her five to ten minutes to obey at first, but it should get quicker the more you practice and she learns that you will enforce what you say, since she will not get whatever else she wants until she obeys. This also looks like always going to get her when you call her rather than letting her ignore you. Keeping a four to six foot leash on her while you are supervising her can also be very helpful for enforcing commands like come and sit and for stopping the biting and keeping her still until she calms down enough to obey. Once she has learned the "Leave It" command, then use the "Pressure" method from the article below also. Act very calmly while you do this until she stops coming back to bite you. When she stops trying to bite you, quickly give her one of her own favorite toys as a reward for her obedience and good choice and to help her continue her good, non-biting behavior. Puppies need to bite and chew at this age. Their teeth are coming in and then their jaws develop. It's also how they communicate, learn about the world, play, and practice for when they are adults later. Mouthing a lot as a puppy can help a puppy learn how to control the pressure of his bite and be more gentle as an adult. The goal is to teach her how to play softly with her mouth and to chew appropriate things. Do not expect her not to chew at all. Rather, make sure that you are providing her with appropriate things to chew like medium or large Kong toys stuffed with food. You can even soak your puppy's dog food in water with a bit of Peanut Butter, loosely stuff it in the Kong, and then freeze it. The frozen Kong will give her something to do to keep her from being bored, and can relieve teething discomfort. A word of caution, Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, so make sure your peanut butter does not contain that ingredient. Here is the link to the other biting article. Use the "Leave It" method first, then use the "Pressure" method once your puppy understands what leave it means if she disobeys. Also reward her for not biting you when you know she is tempted to. She may also simply need some time alone with chew toys to calm down when she gets too wound up. Keeping a leash attached to her can make her easier to catch and allow you to help her to calm down when she gets too wound up to listen. VirChewLy makes a chewproof leash if she chews her leash. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Reggie
French Bulldog
10 Weeks
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Question
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Reggie
French Bulldog
10 Weeks

Hi, i am a first time dog owner and i am aware he is still very young but my husband, my 2 boys and I are now starting to wonder if this is normal.... Reggie is constantly trying to bite our hands and feet. We can barely stroke him for more than a few seconds before he starts biting our hands?! We have tried saying “stop” and “no biting” and giving a pat on the nose but absolutely nothing is helping at all... if anything its getting worse.
Im just worried that this is either not normal or its going to get worse and having young children (9&7), i cant have that.
Also he very ofter goes into “attack” mode but that is only towards me.... he acts like he’s getting prepared to pounce for my feet, growling and barking at them. It actually makes me a bit nervous haha. As soon as i take a step towards his he’s runs away but will come straight back.
He also does this to me alot when i am sittin gon the sofa? I have tried just ignoring him but he will carry on or start biting the furniture!
Sorry this is so long winded but im just a bit worried that this isnt going to get better or they maybe an issue ...???
Thanks

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