Walking is probably on top of the list of things Frenchies and all dogs like doing most. That’s why it may come as a surprise when you are about to go on your very first walk with your new puppy, and they don’t share your excitement at all: they just sit down and are not willing to move. The truth is that walking on a leash is a skill that puppies need to acquire, so in the beginning it will be your task to get them to like it. In this article, we reveal the essential steps in achieving this, and also share some tips for your grown Frenchie to make walking times enjoyable for both of you!
Getting used to the collar
The very first step of leash training is to make sure that your Frenchie puppy is comfortable wearing a collar. Usually when you receive your new fur baby, chances are they haven’t had a collar on before, so naturally they need a bit of time to get used to the sensation of having something around their neck. We recommend doing this at home in your living room where your puppy feels comfortable, and never on the street or in the shop. It’s completely natural if your Frenchie doesn’t like it first and tries to get rid of it. What you’ll need to do is to distract them with a fun game, toy or treat, basically anything that makes them forget about the collar and are not trying to take it off any more.
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Introducing the leash
When your Frenchie is finally comfortable with the collar, so they are not scratching it and are trying to get rid of it, that’s when you know it’s time to attach the leash. Again, it’s very important to do it in a familiar environment. Be prepared that they will probably hate it first and will start chewing on it. You’ll just need to leave it hanging onto the floor, and again, try to distract your puppy with toys and treats. The goal is the same as it was with the collar: make them forget about it. When they are finally paying attention to you rather than the leash, you can praise them and show how happy you are with them.
Taking the first steps
Once your Frenchie is completely happy wearing both a collar and a leash, it’s finally time for the first few steps! If you see that your puppy is up for it, you can slowly try walking up and down in your living room holding the leash. Even if all you manage to do is one step together, don’t forget to encourage your fur baby by showing how happy you are: praise them, pet them, give them a treat because they deserve it! You can then gradually increase the distance, and finally when you manage to make it to the other room you should regard that as a huge achievement! That definitely calls for some extra praising and petting!
You should be aware that it’s completely normal behavior if your Frenchie sits down and will not move anywhere. In cases like that, it’s very important not to pull them into any direction but to use your sweetest voice and call them by their name, motivate them by offering treats, and show how happy you are when they are finally willing to move. Remember that small steps will get you far!
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Time to go outside!
When you and your Frenchie finally got the hang of it in the comfort of your home, it’s time to test it all outside on the street! You should be aware that first there will be a lot of excitement for your puppy: they will hear new sounds, smell new scents and see new things all at once! You can imagine how overwhelming that might be, so it’s a completely normal reaction from your puppy to sit down not willing to move. To you it might just seem that your Frenchie is being stubborn, but they are actually afraid of the new environment which is full of scary sounds and things.
Your task now is the same that was at home: don’t pull on the leash but rather talk to your baby in your most comforting voice, take some treats and praise for every step taken. They should see that you’re the happiest human on the planet when they take those first few steps! It’s very important to make walking times a pleasant experience for them. No puppy was born already knowing how to walk on the leash, this is a skill they need to acquire. They will very soon realize what an amazing thing it is exploring the world with you, and they are also smart enough to learn that the leash is actually for their own safety. If you are patient, take small steps and use positive reinforcement, it will all be fine!
Training your grown Frenchie
Once your puppy is bigger and has learned how to walk on the leash, they might eventually get a bit too confident and will try to be the boss at walking times. So, your next big task is to teach them that you’re the one leading the way. This is a very important step in becoming your Frenchie’s pack leader, read our article to learn more about that. You should make sure that you never let your puppy pull on the leash and decide which way to go. If they start pulling, twitch the leash and go in the opposite direction until they realize that they won’t get anywhere with that behavior. Eventually they’ll understand that you are the one walking them and not vice versa!
Just like with any training, you need to be very consistent and expect these things from them every single time you go for a walk! Once your Frenchie is bigger, you’ll also need to stop praising them and giving treats for walking. As soon as your puppy is misbehaving during walking times, you should immediately let them know that you’re not happy with them by saying “NO!” and giving a firm pull on the leash to show who’s the boss. Believe us when we’re saying that a dog will admire and look up to a confident owner who sets up clear rules; this is something they need to be balanced and happy.
The great debate: harness or collar?
This might come as a surprise but we actually recommend using a collar rather than a harness. Dog trainers will usually agree that a harness gives too much confidence to a dog, while a collar can be used to discipline them when they are misbehaving. The reason is that as soon as they start pulling on the leash it will get tighter on their neck, which might seem like a bad thing at first glance but is actually a very effective way of training them.
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The article is based on the expert knowledge of the TomKings Puppies team who have been breeding French Bulldogs for 10 years on their farm. All the pictures in the post belong to them and their customers, and show puppies from their breed. Check their available puppies here, or if you have any questions or comments let us know below the article.