While some French Bulldog owners may want to use the breed’s stubborn nature as an excuse give up before trying to house train a French Bulldog puppy, I found quick success by using a consistent routine.
Vince joined me at 10 weeks and the only time he pooped inside the house was his first day. At 11 weeks, he was reliably going outside to eliminate. Read on if you’re interested in how I did it!
Before You Start to House Train
The house training schedule included in this post is one I created from reading other training schedules. Each owner will need to adapt the schedule to their needs, but keep in mind that house training a puppy is as much about the dog as it is the owner.
House Train with a Crate but Not Puppy Pads
This house training schedule makes use of a crate for about 2-3 hours at a time during the day and longer overnight. It is not intended to be a babysitter for long days or a means of punishment. It allowed me to establish a routine and gave Vince a space retreat. You may have an area of your home that can get quartered off and use as the puppy’s safe place.
My house training tips and schedule did not rely on puppy pads because that could have added confusion. I didn’t want Vince to think he can go inside if it’s on the puppy pad and expect him to know that he shouldn’t eliminate on the area rugs. I found it worked best to pick one spot outside for doing business and train him to that area. That said, I had puppy pads before he came home and realized he just thought they were a toy!
Introducing a Crate
Vince’s crate was setup the moment he came home, the doors were open and bedding and toys that I wasn’t worried about him destroying was placed inside. He happily explored it and each time he went in, I said crate, praised him and he got a tiny treat. He was never forced to go into the crate.
You’ll want to make sure the crate you use is appropriately sized for your French Bulldog puppy – enough to stand up and turn around. If the crate is too generously sized, he will have a place to eliminate while sleeping in another part. You want to avoid that.
Related post: 5 Things to Know Before Getting a French Bulldog
Choose a Command
Choose your potty command and pick something you will want to happily say in public. Some recommend “go potty” but I opted for “pick a spot.”
The first couple of outings, I waited until I saw him start to eliminate and then marked the action with my command and praise. If you wonder why I don’t have many puppy photos it’s because I was playing with him and watching him like a hawk! The payoff is that Vince quickly learned the connection between my command and eliminating. No puppy will inherently know your expectations.
Keep in mind that over-use of the command as soon as you step outside because you’re impatient will not help your puppy. Give your puppy a chance to sniff around and choose his spot.
You may choose to reward your puppy with just praise or use training treats, but each successful elimination is met with praise and a treat.
Those living with fenced in yards may choose to walk the puppy out on a leash and only after a successful elimination, take the leash off so the puppy can play. Teaching the puppy that business happens before play!
Choose Your Outdoor Area
Taking a puppy to the same general area will introduce him to the idea that this area is his for doing his business. That first poop Vince made inside, I took outside to the spot I wanted him to use.
Until a puppy is up-to-date on vaccinations, your vet will recommend that you not introduce your puppy to areas where other puppies or dogs may be. Each owner will have to figure out what works best for their house and yard situation. Where the schedule suggests a walk, that does not have to mean walking the neighborhood. We took a few laps around our own yard.
House Training Schedule
Mid-morning – puppy wakes from his nap, goes outside for potty command. Bring him inside for supervised play
Lunch – before eating, puppy goes outside for a walk and to eliminate. Come inside, feed the puppy lunch, and play then to the crate to rest.
Mid-afternoon – puppy wakes from his nap, goes outside for potty command. Come inside for supervised play in a playpen or a cornered off area. Puppy can go to crate for a little rest before evening walk.
Dinner – puppy goes outside for a walk and to eliminate. Come inside, feed the puppy and then a little playtime before resting a bit for the night.
Mid-evening – puppy wakes from evening nap and goes outside to eliminate. Come inside and play with your puppy, which may include working on other training commands. After this outside break, you’ll want to remove access to water.
Bedtime – before the owner retires to bed, take the puppy out for a walk and potty command.
Middle of the night – a 8- to 12-week old puppy may need to get up once or twice through the night to eliminate. It is best to wake up, take the puppy outside, give the potty command, reward, come inside, and return to crate. Do not introduce playtime for this is only an all-business wake up.
If you’re able to keep this consistent schedule for about 7 days, you should have a house-trained French Bulldog by the end of the week.
Additional Tips on House Training
A puppy who is 8 to 12 weeks old may only be able to go 2-3 hours without a break outside.
If you spend time outside playing with your puppy who can eliminate whenever, keep in mind that you may have a puppy who gets confused when playing inside and will do the same. If the puppy eliminates inside, get the puppy’s attention and take him outside immediately. These situations should not result in punishment. Additionally, you can keep an eye on playing inside and after about 15-20 minutes, take the puppy outside for an elimination break.
If your puppy eliminates inside, be sure to use an enzyme destroyer so the puppy is not inclined to use that spot again.
If this seems like a lot, it is! If this seems like too much to handle, you may not be ready to house train a puppy or rescue an adult French Bulldog who was not previously house trained.
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