French bulldogs are some of the most beloved dogs in the US and worldwide! In 2018, PBS reported that Frenchies were the fourth most popular breed, topped only by consistent fan-favorites like labs and retrievers.
French bulldogs are known for their quirky dispositions, mild temperaments, and low-maintenance playtime needs. Like all dogs, however, some training is always necessary!
Puppies, in particular, require lots of attention and rule enforcement to guarantee that they will behave. Fortunately, Frenchies make training easy and rewarding.
Read on to find out how to potty train a French bulldog and kiss those indoor accidents goodbye!
How Often Do French Bulldogs Need to Go?
Let’s start by talking about how often your Frenchie will need to relieve herself. This will determine how you set up your potty training schedule and give you an indication of the signs to look for that it’s time for your pup to go.
There are a few factors that can affect your Frenchie’s potty needs, including age, diet, and level of activity.
When you’re potty training a French bulldog puppy, their age can give you some indication of how frequently they’ll need to go.
Take your puppy’s age in months and add one. This is the approximate length of time in hours that they may be able to hold their urine. For example, if you have a three-month-old puppy, she will likely need to pee at least every four hours.
How frequently they need to poop will have more to do with their diet than age.
Just like with humans, the amount of fiber a dog eats will affect how often they poop. It’s not uncommon for Frenchie owners to feed their pups a homemade concoction consisting of meat and veggies, which means that they’re getting a big helping of natural, unprocessed fiber!
There’s no single answer to the question of when a Frenchie will need to poop. If you’re still learning the patterns of your new Frenchie, anticipate that they’ll need to go within thirty minutes of eating. If they don’t make it that long or don’t relieve themselves after thirty minutes, adjust appropriately.
Level of Activity
Metabolism can play a big factor in your Frenchie’s poop schedule. Some Frenchies love to spend their days lazing about while others seem to catch a case of the zoomies a dozen times a day!
If you’re Frenchie loves to play, she’ll probably also love to eat to make up for all that burned energy. The more they eat, the more they’ll poop. In turn, the more they exercise, the faster their metabolism may be, meaning that they’ll likely digest their meals faster and need to go more quickly after eating.
How to Potty Train a French Bulldog
Now that you’ve got a sense of how often you’ll need to think about getting your Frenchie to an appropriate potty place, let’s talk about how to teach them where those appropriate potty places are! There are several steps to take during this process and it’s important to develop a consistent routine.
Watch for Warning Signs
As you develop a routine, you’ll probably get the hang of getting your dog to a good potty spot before it’s too late. However, in the beginning, you may not know exactly when or how often your Frenchie needs to go.
If your Frenchie begins to exhibit warning signs that she needs to go, take her out right away. She may circle or pace the room or sniff along the floor.
She may even try to tell you before it’s too late by barking, whining, or staring. This might be directed at you or at the door you usually use to go outside for potty breaks. Even if you’re convinced that she just wants some extra outside time, it’s better to listen than to end up with an indoor accident!
Develop a Meal Schedule
Meal schedules are an important part of training because it teaches your Frenchie that even if she’s the queen of the castle, you’re still in charge. They’re also important because they can help you to monitor her bathroom needs more closely.
Feed your Frenchie at times of the day when you’ll be available to take her out soon after. For example, don’t put her breakfast out ten minutes before you leave for work. Instead, make that your first priority in the morning so that you’ll have plenty of time to go outside.
To reinforce her meal schedule, take away her food when mealtime is done, even if there’s still some food in her bowl. After doing this a few times, she’ll get the idea that she should eat her whole meal when it’s given to her!
With younger Frenchies, you may want to limit water intake an hour or two before bedtime. This can help to reduce the number of times she’ll wake you up in the wee hours of the morning to, well, wee!
Pick a Specific Spot in the Yard
Eventually, your French bulldog will understand that most outdoor spaces are the “right” place to go. In the beginning, however, use a specific spot in your yard to reduce her confusion.
To that end, even if you’re training her in a fenced-in area, you may want to do a lot of your potty training on a leash. Not only will this allow you to guide her to her specific potty spot but it will also cut down on distractions. Free reign in the backyard may spell “playtime” to her rather than “potty time.”
Use a Command and Reward System
Going potty is a lot more natural than learning to sit or roll over but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the use of a command and reward system.
As soon as your in an appropriate spot, use a command like, “Go potty,” or simply, “Potty.” In the earliest stages, have a treat on hand. Once your Frenchie has completed her business, give her a treat so she knows that she followed the command correctly.
After the first day or two, rotate your rewards. You can use a toy or positive vocal tones and affectionate pets.
Rotating rewards can help to prevent your Frenchie from expecting a treat every time she goes. If you’re not careful, she may start holding off on going to the bathroom until she’s certain she’s getting a tasty snack in exchange!
Don’t Forget Potty Pads
Frenchies are sensitive creatures and there are certain weather patterns that should give you pause before you take a Frenchie outside. If the temperature drops below 32 degrees, you may want to avoid taking your Frenchie outside at all, as they can develop hypothermia and frostbite.
For that reason, potty pads are a good thing to have on hand. Training your Frenchie to use them is no different than training them to go outside! Use a command and reward system until they learn that the potty pad is the only place they are allowed to go when they’re indoors.
Things to Avoid During French Bulldog Potty Training
Before I leave you to it, there are a few things worth mentioning that you shouldn’t do when you’re potty training a French bulldog.
Punishing Improper Potty Behavior
It can be frustrating when your Frenchie has an accident inside, especially if you’re well into the potty training process. However, avoid yelling and physical punishment. You should also avoid rubbing their face or nose in the mess.
This kind of behavior will frighten your Frenchie and break the trust that is crucial to any training process. Plus, it may encourage them to behave aggressively in turn.
Leaving Behind Signs (and Smells) of Indoor Accidents
It’s important that you find a carpet or floor cleaner that is specifically designed to clean dog urine or poop. The odor, in particular, needs to be lifted.
When Frenchies catch the scent of their own prior potty breaks, they may be inclined to mark that spot again and again. Your best bet to avoid this habit is to find a good cleaner that will hopefully eliminate any sign of an indoor accident.
Ignoring Bigger Bathroom Problems
As you’re learning your Frenchie’s potty habits, pay attention to any signs that they might have an internal issue that requires veterinary attention.
For example, it’s one thing for a Frenchie-in-training to release the full contents of their bladder inside. It’s another thing if they seem to have an issue with frequent leakage or leave wet spots on their bedding after a nap. These symptoms may indicate urinary incontinence.
Similarly, unusual pooping habits may also be indicative of a bigger problem. Constipation could point to an internal blockage while diarrhea could indicate that they’ve consumed something toxic or have an intolerance to something in their diet.
If it’s strange and you’re concerned, visit your vet!
When you’re learning how to potty train a French bulldog, the biggest key is to stay patient. Even if your Frenchie seems to regress and the accidents indoors increase for a period of time, remember that she’s still learning and it’s your responsibility to get her there.
If you’re looking for the best gear and accessories to boost training and improve your Frenchie’s day to day life, visit the shop and check out our favorite Frenchie items!
Also, if your Frenchie has an accident be sure to read this guide on the best carpet cleaner for old pet urine here.