Did you know that the key to every successful training is to show your Frenchie that you are the leader of the pack? What that means is to make him understand that when you’re present, you’re always in charge. The good news is that your puppy actually wants you to tell him what to do, he needs a system in his life where it’s very clear what you expect from him, what he can and can’t do, otherwise he will test the limits and will likely start misbehaving. Creating rules from the very beginning will ensure that your Frenchie is well-behaved, balanced and happy! In this article, we share some tips about how you can achieve that.
Where does it come from?
Like all dog breeds, French Bulldogs are descended from wolves who live in packs. Every pack has its leader who is respected and followed by the rest, they will do whatever the leader expects from them. The same principles work when a family welcomes a Frenchie into their home; at that very moment, the family becomes a pack, and the pup will need a leader who he can look up to, who tells him what he can and can’t do. This is what’s natural for them, so it’s very important that your Frenchie knows from an early age who that one person is who they need to listen to by any means.
Will the puppy only listen to the pack leader?
There is only one pack leader, but every family member is above the pup in the ‘hierarchy of the pack’, which means that your puppy is supposed to listen to everyone in the family. Frenchies are very smart though, they will soon figure out who they need to obey and who doesn’t expect that from them. What’s important is that the rules you set up for your pup need to be followed by everyone in the family, so if you don’t allow sleeping in your bed for example, your family members should all respect that in order not to leave your baby confused.
How can you let your Frenchie know that you are the pack leader?
There are several ways in which you can show your Frenchie that you are the leader. Some of these might raise some eyebrows so please note that these are only suggestions for those who are struggling to make their puppy listen to them and would like to improve their behavior. Now let’s see these steps one by one.
An effective way of showing your Frenchie that you’re the boss is by making him wait when you put his food in front of him. Your puppy needs to learn that the food is only his when you say so, and he’s not allowed to touch it until he’s given permission. It certainly won’t be easy at the beginning, you’ll probably need to raise your voice, even grab him and move him aside a couple of times. Once your pup is calm and not resisting any more, tell him “Eat!” and he’ll happily start eating.
It is also a good idea to reach for his food, even take it away and give it back while he is eating, as that will teach him that you are allowed to do that and he cannot growl at you for it! You can read more about dealing with food aggression in a previous article we published. Your Frenchie needs to understand that food is a reward, he cannot play with it or leave it there, so if he doesn’t eat it you need to take it away and give it back later. In our experience, these small tricks will bring your relationship with your puppy to a whole new level as he will start respecting you!
Leaving and arriving home
This might sound a bit strange but you should never say your Frenchie goodbye when you go away from home and leave him on his own. Your baby will be stressed and the whole experience of staying home alone will be unpleasant for him. You as the pack leader may come and go as you please, and your puppy needs to understand that as well. When you finally arrive home, your puppy shouldn’t be jumping at you as that is their way of asserting dominance. That’s why it’s a good idea to greet your family members first and only pay attention to your puppy once he has calmed down. Then you can greet him, pet him, tell him how much you missed him. We know how hard this can be, we can’t stick to it every time either!
Walking out the door
You should never let your puppy walk out the door or the gate before you do! Use the command word “Stay!” while you walk out, and then call him to come out. At first it will be difficult, you’ll probably need to grab him and move him back firmly until he stays there. They usually learn this in a couple of days and will be completely natural soon.
This is a very important thing on your way to becoming the pack leader. Never let your puppy pull on the leash and decide which way to go during walking times! As the leader, you should be the one leading the way with your puppy walking by your side. If he starts pulling, twitch the leash and go in the opposite direction until he realizes that he won’t get anywhere with that behavior. Eventually he’ll understand that you are the one walking him and not vice versa!
Sleeping on the sofa and in your bed
We know how hard it is to say no to your fur baby when he wants to join you on the sofa or in your bed, still your Frenchie should understand that those are your territories. We don’t expect from you never to let your puppy on the sofa, but you should teach him that he can only do so when you give a verbal permission. If he’s trying to jump on the sofa or your bed, send him away immediately and be very consistent about it! Make sure that he has his own comfortable place that he loves, and train him to sleep there.
Praising and punishing
Never miss a chance to praise your Frenchie when he does something well! Pet him, give him a treat, play with him, all of these will encourage him to do it again. On the other hand, if your pup does something wrong, he needs to be told off immediately! It’s important not to wait as later he won’t understand why his mom or dad is angry at him. The biggest punishment for a puppy is to be ignored as he will interpret that as he’s not part of the pack any more. If he was naughty, ask everyone in your family not to play with him, not even look at him for some time, depending on how bad he was. This may sound harsh but it’s very effective!
Be calm and consistent
The golden rule when training your puppy is to talk to him in a calm and assertive way, be very consistent and stick to the rules you create for him. If you follow the steps above, we can guarantee that you’ll end up with a well-behaved, obedient and happy Frenchie!
Feel free to join our TomKings Frenchie Family Facebook group for further useful tips!
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 show puppies from their breed, and their farm. Check their available puppies here, or if you have any questions or comments let us know below the article.