Pro Tips: Potty Training A French Bulldog With Ease

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Reviewed by Alexandre Beaumont
Potty Training a French Bulldog

The most exhausting part of bringing home your adorable puppy is, without a doubt, housebreaking. Accidents in the house can be frustrating for a new owner and start your budding relationship on a rocky path. 

This article will give you tips and tricks for potty training a French Bulldog like a pro and set you and your Frenchie pup up for success!

When I first started my dog training career, I lived in Minnesota, where the winter weather conditions can be brutal. 

I received a call from a frustrated woman looking for help potty training her two Yorkshire Terriers. Her pups were ten months old, and she’d had no luck getting them to eliminate outdoors. 

After a lengthy discussion, I discovered she’d adopted her two puppies in January, and to avoid the frigid weather, she’d decided to train the pups to use the shower in her bathroom.

Now she was paying the price! 

She could walk her two Yorkies for an hour outside and they would not eliminate at all. As soon as they entered the house, they would make a beeline to the shower. No matter what she tried, they would not potty outside. 

Their owner was at her wit’s end!

Don't Potty Train a French Bulldog indoor
Don’t Potty Train your Frenchie Indoor!

Teaching a dog to eliminate outside from day one is always best. No intermediary step. No pee pads (which teach them it’s okay to go in the house) and certainly no shower stalls!

 Let’s look at solid techniques for potty training a French Bulldog quickly.

Easy to Follow & Effective Steps to Potty Training a French Bulldog Puppy

Start Potty Training Immediately

The best time to start housebreaking a Frenchie is the day you bring them home. If you are getting a puppy, that should not be before eight weeks. (If you have a breeder letting you take a puppy before eight weeks, you are not dealing with a reputable breeder!) A puppy between 8-12 weeks has a bladder big enough and muscle control to begin the training.

Create a Schedule and Stick To It!

Puppies must go to the bathroom often, so creating and sticking to a schedule is essential. Take your puppy to potty every 30 minutes to an hour after they wake, eat, drink, or play.

First thing in the morning, take your pup right outside. Meals should be at set times. Pick up the food after 10-15 minutes. There should be no free feeding while potty training a French Bulldog. Let’s take a look at an ideal sample schedule. Adjust this schedule for your dog’s age, abilities, and circumstances (like waking up from a nap).

Potty Training Schedule
Potty Training Schedule

Everyone in the house must be on board with the schedule. Do not leave children in charge of your puppy if they are too young or busy to maintain this strict schedule.

*Most professional trainers will advocate for getting up at least once in the middle of the night with a young puppy. Some even advocate for once an hour throughout the night for the first week. If you set an alarm to wake up, turn it off and walk around briefly before opening the crate. Otherwise, your Frenchie will associate the sound of the alarm with getting sprung from the crate and getting your attention. That excitement will:

  • Make it harder to hold his bladder
  • Be really annoying when, in the future, your partner sets an alarm to get up before you’re ready

Crate Training Is Vital

I cannot stress this enough. Not only is crate training a great tool for housebreaking, but it will help your Frenchie remain safe and calm for the rest of its life. Because this is such an important tool (and easy to mess up), I will go through several steps to ensure your French Bulldog loves its crate.

5 Vet-Approved Tips for Housebreaking Your Puppy
  1. Place the crate in an area of the house you are often in, like the living room or the kitchen. There should also be a crate in the bedroom for overnight. I know many want their Frenchie curled up in bed with them, but you’ll want a completely potty-trained dog before you go there!
  2. The crate should ALWAYS be a positive experience! Never put the dog in the crate as punishment. I know it’s tempting when they’ve just chewed up your couch, but this approach will backfire.
  3. Leave the crate door open. Let your Frenchie explore the crate on its own. Put a small treat in there or a new toy. Place a bit of peanut butter at the back of the crate. Make it a great place to be!
  4. Feed your pup in their crate. To begin with, place the bowl of food at the entrance of the crate so your Frenchie’s body can remain outside the crate. Move the bowl back farther into the crate over the next several days.
  5. Close the door. If your pup is showing no signs of anxiety while being in the crate, go ahead and close the door. Don’t latch it at first. Simply close it for a few seconds, then open it again.
  6. Never let your pup out if they are barking or whining. If your Frenchie learns you will open that door when it barks, you will have a big problem and disgruntled neighbors. Only open the door when your pup is quiet. Don’t make a big deal about letting him out. Simply open the door and walk away. You don’t want to be the reward and the crate to be seen as time away from you.
  7. Check the size of the crate. During potty training, the crate should be big enough for your Frenchie to stand up, turn around, and lie down. NO BIGGER! If the crate is bigger than your pup, he will go to one side, urinate, and then lie down on the other side. This will ruin your attempts to potty train your French Bulldog.

Choose a Designated Potty Area

Pick a spot in your yard you want your puppy to use as their potty area. This could be a patch of grass, a graveled area, or the woods. While you should pick up after your dog, there is no reason to clean it thoroughly. The smells encourage your dog to continue to go there.

Teach Elimination on Command

Potty Training a French Bulldog
Go Poo Poo!

There are so many benefits to training your Frenchie to eliminate on-command. You can get a sample when your veterinarian needs one. There is no dilly-dallying in the middle of a rainstorm. You can get down to business and not be late for work again! And it’s so simple to do.

Choose the command you’d like to use. It should be something not used in everyday language (go potty might backfire if you’ve got a toddler you’re trying to train as well). It should also be language you can use in public. It can be a typical phrase like Do your business or something entirely made up. I have a client who says zizzle to his dog. Use whatever you and your family would like. Just be consistent.

As soon as your Frenchie starts to eliminate (whether urinating or defecating), calmly repeat the command over and over. As soon as it stops, praise and treat! Until your pup understands the order, only give it during the action. Don’t give it before it starts eliminating. Be patient!

One hint is to ensure your treats are right beside the leash so you grab them when you snap the leash on. You don’t want to wait until you get inside to treat. You will end up with a Frenchie who won’t walk or play outside but wants to race back into the house. Timing is everything with training. Praise and treat the actual action.

Tether Your Puppy to You in the House

The biggest setback to housebreaking is when your pup sneaks behind a chair, urinates, and doesn’t get caught. Let me be clear. The ramifications for getting caught should not include yelling at your Frenchie or, God forbid, spanking. I never, ever advocate hitting a dog. 

If you catch your pup eliminating in the house, scoop it up and head to your outdoor potty spot. Allow several minutes there to complete what wasn’t finished indoors. Praise and treat!

One of the best ways to ensure your pup does not sneak off and leave you surprises is to tether you to your Frenchie with a leash. If you are working in the kitchen, put your pup in its crate or tether it to you while preparing dinner. Same with lounging on the couch watching television at night. Tethering will let you know when your pup is awake and active and will prevent wandering off.

Never Punish Accidents

If your puppy has an accident in the house, don’t punish them. This will only make them afraid to go to the bathroom in front of you. Instead, take your puppy to the potty area, praise, and treat if you succeed. Put your pup in its crate with a treat while you clean up the soiled area. Be sure to use a cleaning product designed to eliminate odors for pets. French bulldogs have excellent noses and can smell urine left behind. That smell will only encourage them to use that spot again.

House Training an Older Frenchie

Potty Training Adult French bulldog

How Different Is Potty Training an Adult French Bulldog?

If you have adopted an adult French Bulldog, the tips for housebreaking are very similar. Keep your Frenchie crated if your attention will be elsewhere. Create a schedule. Check with whoever had your dog before you, see what the schedule was, and how they succeeded. Establish a potty area. Praise and treat.

Get to learn your dog’s tells or signals. Does he start sniffing the carpet? Does she paw at the floor? Does he bark? While getting to know each other, set up a routine and take extra time to learn his behaviors. Every dog will be different.

Be Patient and Persistent

Frustrated Dog Owner
Don’t give up!

Housebreaking a puppy takes time and patience. Don’t get discouraged if your puppy has accidents along the way. Keep going to the potty area often, and praise and treat for going in the right place. Your French Bulldog will be potty trained soon. If you are having trouble with housebreaking, consult a certified dog trainer or your veterinarian to eliminate a medical cause.

And whatever you do, make sure your designated potty area is outside. Even if it is Minnesota cold out there!

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AUTHOR

Wendy is a freelance copywriter whose niche is the animal kingdom. She is a certified dog trainer and currently lives with her husband and a furloughed service dog. She considers them equally easy to live with...on most days.

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