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Is a French Bulldog Right for Me?

Maybe you have seen pictures of French Bulldog puppies with those adorable smoosh faces and funny bat ears or maybe your neighbor has a French Bulldog and has told you they are the best breed around. You may be mulling over purchasing or adopting one yourself but may also be wondering if it is the right breed for you. Let me start by saying these little guys and gals are not the couch potatoes you may think they are. While most of them love a good cuddling session, they can also be crazy balls of energy. As puppies, French Bulldogs can go, go and go some more and they must be watched every moment they are awake as they will try to eat everything in their line of sight. Let’s start determining whether a French Bulldog is right for you by talking more about the puppy stage.

French Bulldog Puppies

The first thing you should know is that puppies can only hold their bladder so long. The rule of thumb is puppies can hold their bladder for approximately an hour longer than how many months old they are. So, a three-month-old puppy can only hold their bladder for four hours and a four-month-old puppy can only hold their bladder for five hours. You get it, right? The point here is that you must be ready to lose some sleep in the first few months of bringing your puppy home because you will need to get up at some point during the night every night to let them do their business. So, the first thing you should ask yourself is: Am I prepared for months of sleep deprivation?

The next thing you should know is that French Bulldog puppies can take longer to potty train than other breeds and they need to be taken out often. I have an entire blog post dedicated to French Bulldog potty training ( but for our purposes here, I will just say that if you plan to get a French Bulldog puppy, you must have patience, lots of treats, and most importantly be able to stick to a strict routine. Therefore, the next thing you should ask yourself is: Do I have the time and patience to properly potty train a French Bulldog puppy?

Socializing a French Bulldog puppy is especially important because socializing them young will help prevent aggressive behaviors when they get older. Just be sure they have all their shots before allowing them to go around other dogs and especially before taking them to dog parks. French Bulldogs properly socialized will love to play with other dogs, especially other frenchies. They also love to socialize with humans particularly the humans in their family. They love always being with their families and can develop separation anxiety if left alone too often. So, another question you should ask yourself is: Do I plan to spend a lot of time with my French Bulldog? If the answer to this is no, you may wish to rethink this breed.

Finally, French Bulldog puppies tend to eat EVERYTHING in sight so teaching the “drop it” command early is particularly important with this breed. It is also important to have plenty of toys for them to chew on to prevent them from chewing on items such as furniture. Some of the toys I buy that my frenchies love are:

KONG Wild Knots Bear Dog Toy – Small/Medium – Assorted Colors #ad

KONG Floppy Knots Fox, Dog Toy, Medium/Large #ad

KONG Floppy Knots Elephant, Dog Toy, Medium/Large #ad

KONG – Puppy Toy Natural Teething Rubber – Fun to Chew, Chase and Fetch (Color May Vary) – for Medium Puppies #ad

(2 Pack) KONG Puppy Tires, Size Medium/Large Assorted Colours #ad

Frenchies are aggressive chewers and these Kong toys hold up great. Now let’s talk a little more about training.

French Bulldog Training

I am sure you have heard that French Bulldogs can be stubborn and that is an accurate assessment. However, they are extremely smart and if you know the correct training methods, you can teach your French Bulldog just about anything. Click here for training tips:

Basic training commands are important for all breeds of dogs, not just French Bulldogs. The earlier you can teach these commands such as sit, stay, and lay down, the better. Once you have the basic commands down, you can start with the fun commands such as shake, high five, and play dead. Frenchies, just like any other breed of dog, love attention and love pleasing their humans.

French Bulldog Adults

While all French Bulldogs are unique, they do tend to calm down as they age. Unfortunately, many also tend to develop health issues as they age. Because of this, I suggest obtaining pet insurance. For information on some of the most recommended pet insurance companies, click here:

What is also important to know is there is a significant amount of maintenance involved in owning a French Bulldog. Please read this post about Frenchie Care before deciding to get a French Bulldog:

French bulldogs are not only expensive to purchase but their ongoing care can also be expensive so the last question you should ask yourself is: Am I willing to incur significant expenses to keep a French Bulldog?

What You Will Love about your Frenchie

If it sounds like I am trying to talk you out of purchasing or adopting a French Bulldog, nothing could be further from the truth. These dogs are loving, loyal, funny, and my favorite breed of dog. They will love you unconditionally and you cannot help loving all the unique personality traits they possess. They have these looks that just completely melt your heart. They acclimate well to any living environment whether you have a huge backyard or no backyard at all. The point of this post is to provide information so that you can make an informed decision as to whether this breed is right for you. If you have any questions about French Bulldogs, feel free to leave a reply below. Additionally, if this post helped you make a decision whether a French Bulldog is right for you, I would love to hear from you.

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Behavioral Modification Using Operant Conditioning (Training Your Frenchie)

Operant Conditioning is a learning system developed by B.F. (Burrhus Frederic) Skinner in the 1930’s. Skinner studied psychology at Harvard University and drew his research from the work of Edward Thorndike who conducted the first behavioral studies on animals. Skinner’s ‘Operant Conditioning’ is a variant of Thorndike’s ‘Instrumental Conditioning’ which illuminated the idea that animals can learn which behaviors get them what they want. Thorndike used what he called the “Puzzle box” to demonstrate that animals could learn the behaviors required to escape the box. The animals in his experiments would display the behaviors required to escape the box more and more as they learned that these behaviors got them to where they needed to be. Skinner used a cage he called the “Operant Chamber” to conduct his experiments. The animals inside the Operant Chamber were rewarded by an apparatus called a “Magazine” that dispensed food if the desired behavior was achieved. In this chamber, he taught animals to press a lever in return for receiving treats via the magazine. The goal was to teach the animals that pressing the lever gave them a reward. The main premises of Operant Conditioning are Positive and Negative Reinforcement and Positive and Negative Punishment.

Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement rewards an animal (in our case, a dog) with something they want (such as a treat) for performing a behavior that is desired. Negative Reinforcement removes something that the dog does not want or find pleasing to get them to perform the desired behavior. In both cases, reinforcement increases a desired behavior. An example of positive reinforcement is giving your dog a treat when they sit for you. You are giving them something they want to get them to perform the behavior you want: sitting. An example of negative reinforcement is turning your back when your dog jumps on you. You are taking away something they want, namely attention, to get him to do what you want, stay down and not jump. Just remember reinforcement, whether negative or positive, is increasing the frequency of a behavior. Some behaviors are easier to teach than others and some dogs learn behaviors quicker than other dogs. For example, I taught Harley the command “High Five” and I taught Dozer the command “Paw” which are very similar behaviors. However, it only took one fifteen minute session to teach Harley when it took three 15 minute sessions to teach Dozer. This was because Harley already knew the behavior, she just didn’t know when to do it. Harley would paw at you when she wanted your attention so when I noticed she was getting ready to paw at me, I would say “High Five” and then when she pawed my hand, I gave her a lot of praise telling her good girl, petting her, and making a big deal out of it. I did this over and over and Voila! She knows “High Five!” Dozer did not already have this behavior in his repertoire so I was tasked with teaching him a brand new behavior. I would physically place his paw in my hand while giving the “Paw” command and then give him a treat immediately, saying “Good Boy!” I repeated this process over and over for fifteen minutes. Then, the next day, we worked for another fifteen minutes. Then, on the third day, he starting doing it himself about 5 minutes in to the training session. I continued for another ten minutes keeping the total training session at fifteen minutes. It is a good idea to keep training sessions to no longer than fifteen minutes since dogs can get distracted or get bored if your training sessions are too long.

Positive and Negative Punishment

When most people think of punishment, they think of it as a negative method that includes hitting and yelling. While yelling and hitting are forms of punishment, this is not what we are talking about here and I do not recommend these methods of punishment. Punishment in terms of Operant Conditioning simply refers to stopping a behavior. Positive Punishment is giving your dog something in order to stop a behavior that is unwanted. Negative punishment is taking something away (such as attention) to stop a behavior that is unwanted. In both cases, punishment decreases the behavior you do not want. An example of a positive punishment is spraying your dog with a water bottle to keep him or her from jumping on the couch. An example of negative punishment is turning your back when your pup bites. You are taking away something they want, attention, to get them to stop biting. Punishment, whether positive or negative, is decreasing the frequency of a behavior.

In the majority of cases, positive interactions yield the best results. Skinner also believed that punishment is less effective than reinforcement and I hold this belief as well. Therefore, if you are attempting to stop a behavior which is achieved by punishment, try turning it into an opportunity for reinforcement. For example, instead of decreasing the behavior of biting, you want to increase the frequency of not biting. You can also choose the route of combining methods as I do to stop puppies from biting. When the puppy bites, I say “No” loudly and sternly, then get up and walk away. When they get ready to bite, I catch them, say “no” and if they don’t bite, I give them plenty of praise and a treat if you have one handy. The same process of combining methods can be used to get your puppy to stop chewing the things he shouldn’t be chewing and start chewing the things he should be chewing.

Training Your Frenchie to Stop Chewing

It is a dogs natural instinct to chew. It is important to remember that you aren’t actually teaching a dog to not chew, you are teaching them what they can chew and what they can not chew. Dogs chew for a variety of reasons from teething to boredom. If they are chewing from boredom, be sure to provide them with plenty of stimulation. If you know they are chewing because they are teething, it is best to hide everything you do not want them to chew on. Put your shoes away in the closet. Pick up the remote and your sunglasses and keep them out of reach. So, what about the things you can not hide such as baseboards? Here is where reinforcement comes in to play. You need to watch your puppy close and know when he or she is getting ready to start chewing. When you see them start to chew, say “No” and give them a toy or treat to chew on. When they start chewing on the item they are supposed to be chewing on, give them praise, pet them, and make a big deal out of it. If you are consistent and patient, they will eventually understand what they should be chewing on and what they should not be chewing on. The more you repeat this and the more consistent you are, the quicker they will learn. This is one of the things Skinner learned in his research, repetition is very important to the learning process. The key is catching them every time, redirecting them every time, and givings lots of praise and treats. Lots and lots of treats!

If you would like to learn more about using Operant Conditioning to modify behaviors, feel free to send me a message on my contact page. If you enjoyed this post, please hit the like button below.

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