Housebreaking a French Bulldog: A Quick Guide

It’s no secret that French Bulldogs aren’t the easiest to housetrain. It takes a lot of patience, practice, and consistency before the pooch learns to eliminate outdoors. While housebreaking a French Bulldog is a challenge, there’s always a workaround to speed up the process. The key is doing it right and avoiding some common mistakes that Frenchie owners have committed in the past.

For this post, I will discuss some steps in housebreaking a Frenchie as well as added tips that will set you up for success.

Things you need for potty training

housebreaking a French Bulldog

Aside from the right steps, you also need a few items to train your dog properly. This will make the process easier while saving you from the hassle of cleaning up accidents. You should shop for the following items first:

  • Dog leash and harness. If your Frenchie doesn’t have a leash yet, you should get one together with a properly fitting harness. As a stocky dog with no prominent neckline, harnesses are much better than collars for Frenchies.
  • Pee pads. Accidents will happen over the course of housebreaking a French Bulldog. To prevent this, you can use pee pads to catch the spills. Expect that your pooch will have accidents on the first days or weeks of your training.
  • Yummy treats. As food-driven doggos, French Bulldogs will learn faster if rewarded with delicious treats. You can also use this to lure them to the potty spot you chose.
  • Dog crate. Crating plays a big role in housetraining a dog. This will teach your dog to hold its bladder as you use the crate as its sleeping quarters.

Housebreaking a French Bulldog

Photo Credits – Wag Walking

While all dogs can be housetrained at any age, you will have an easier time training a Frenchie puppy. Starting them young will save you from the hassle of chasing over a stocky pooch.

The following are the easy steps to start housebreaking your pup:

Step 1: Set a schedule

Dogs are beings of habits, so they will thrive better if you stick to a schedule. You should also schedule multiple potty times, preferably early in the morning, after playtime, and after dinner. With this, you should also set a schedule for your dog’s meals and playtime.

By sticking to this strict schedule, your Frenchie will pick up the pattern. It will be easier for the two of you to finish housetraining.

Unless you have a dog flap on your door, you will need to manually bring the pooch outdoors.

Step 2: Set up the crate

To start the training, you should set up the crate as your Frenchie’s sleeping spot. Line it with a pee pad then place its bed inside. Make it as cozy as possible to calm your pooch even as the crate door is closed. You can also put your dog’s favorite toys inside.

Remember that the crate should be the right size for your Frenchie – not too large or too small. A very large crate will give your French Bulldog enough space to eliminate without soiling its bed. However, a very small crate will be uncomfortable for your dog.

Crate training mimics dogs’ harborage in the wild. Dogs don’t soil the spot where they sleep. With this, your Frenchie will hold its bladder until it’s allowed to get out of the crate.

Step 3: Watch for potty signs

Once you’re all set, observe your dog for signs of eliminating. This includes straining, pacing, and eagerness to go out of the crate. Your Frenchie will usually poop or pee minutes after eating or playing. Dogs also have to eliminate first thing in the morning after a whole night of holding it in.

Once you notice that your dog is about to eliminate, bring the crate outdoors, and open the gate. This will signal your dog that it can eliminate safely.

Step 4:  Reward, reward, reward

After your dog has eliminated, give it a tasty reward. The goal here is to attach housebreaking with something positive. Over time, your French Bulldog will be at the door and begging to be let out.

You can use food rewards at the start, but you’d have to shed it after some time. You can replace it with affection until your Frenchie eliminates outdoors without being instructed to do so. It will also help if you set up a dog flap on your door so your pet can go potty even without your help.

Step 5. Repeat

Being consistent with this process is essential to succeed in housebreaking your pet. Each French Bulldog is different, so some may take weeks or even months to be fully housebroken. Just be patient and never use violence.

Punishing your dog for having accidents will just make things worse. Remember that your Frenchie will not understand why you’re hurting him or her. Worse, your pooch will think that eliminating is a bad thing. This can lead to health issues and even defeat your housebreaking efforts.

Additional tips when housebreaking a French Bulldog

Housebreaking a dog is a process. It doesn’t happen in a couple of days. And when it comes to French Bulldogs, you may need to stretch your patience for a couple of months. To make the process worthwhile, you should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be quick. The moment your Frenchie shows signs of eliminating, be quick to take it outdoors. If the doggo is no longer in the crate, you can lure it to the door with a smelly treat or a squeaky toy. For those living in apartments, the bathroom can be an alternative to the yard.
  • Use a cue word. Dogs remember tricks and actions through repetitions paired with a cue word. You can use the word ‘potty’ when you’re letting your dog outside. If your pooch goes to its potty spot, reward it with a treat. The treat should be easy to consume, so your Frenchie will not be distracted.
  • Don’t initiate playtime. If you’re going to take your Frenchie outside to eliminate, you should never initiate playtime. If you do so, you’ll confuse your dog, and it will not be fully housebroken. As much as possible, perform playtime on the other side of your yard where your doggo eliminates.
  • Be attentive. Just because your dog is pooping doesn’t mean you can glue your eyes to your phone. Watch it as it eliminates so you can also check the dog’s poop consistency, color, and habits. You may also need to stop your dog if it tries to eat its own fecal matter.

Common housebreaking mistakes to avoid

No pet owner is perfect, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you’re finding it hard to train your French Bulldog. To help you out, it’s best to avoid these common mistakes for better chances of success:

❌Delaying treats

When training your French Bulldog, you must reward the pooch right after doing the expected action. Delaying the treat will just defeat your efforts. Remember that your goal for rewarding is for the doggo to associate housebreaking with positive reinforcement.

Don’t wait until you get back to the house before giving the treat. You should hand it to your dog right on the spot after it’s done with its business.  This way, your Frenchie will realize that he gets paid every time he poops outdoors.

With this, you must carry bite-sized treats with you before heading out. Keeping a jar of treats nearby will serve as a reminder.

Being too lenient

When your Frenchie finally starts to poop outdoors, it’s easy to be lenient. However, giving too much freedom right away might spoil your training efforts. An accident day or two shouldn’t be enough reason for you to cease training. If you do, you’re likely going to be surprised by a ‘bomb’ planted in the middle of your living room.

Letting your Frenchie roam the house without ‘proofing’ the housebreaking training will just cause regression. When that happens, you’ll have to start to square one.

The rule of thumb is that your Frenchie should have one full month of accident-free record before easing your potty supervision.

❌Not picking up signals

Remember that French Bulldogs can’t talk, so they only communicate to you through body language. This is very critical, especially in the first parts of the training.

Instead of using your phone while training, you must pay full attention to your Frenchie. Mind its body language and which ones indicate that it’s time to go.

Usually, dogs will pace in circles and sniff the floor as it prepares to poop. Once you see this, you must lure your Frenchie to the door to prevent accidents.

If you’re not watching, your doggo will have accidents. By that time, you’d have to grab paper towels instead of the doorknob.

❌Not giving the dog enough time

Each dog has their own ritual when pooping. Soon enough, you will pick up the pattern of your French Bulldog. It’s important to give the doggo enough time to acclimate itself outdoors to eliminate properly.

Sometimes, dog owners rush their pets and assume that the pooch will not ‘go’. And when they go back inside, the pooch will no longer hold it anymore. The results are accidents and a mess that you’d have to deal with.

Give your dog at least 15 minutes for it to sniff around and eliminate. If the pooch doesn’t seem to poop after 20 minutes, you can return inside, but stay close to the door for the next 10 minutes.

❌Holding it for too long

Remember that French Bulldogs are not humans. As much as they can hold their bladder, it’s not healthy to push them to the limits. Just because your Frenchie can hold it longer than other dogs doesn’t mean you’re going to abuse it.

To calculate how long your doggo can hold its bladder, just convert its age into hours. On average, a 3-month-old Frenchie can hold it in for up to three hours. However, as the dog ages, the holding time will become less and less.

This means you should not crate your Frenchie for too long. If you can’t get home on time, you should ask someone to walk your dog or at least bring it to your yard to eliminate.

❌Not cleaning accidents properly

Lastly, you must clean accidents at home using an enzyme cleaner. This will remove all the traces of the poo and pee, which will prevent your Frenchie from having further accidents.

It’s not enough that wipe and clean it with soap. Even if you can’t smell anything, your dog’s strong sniffers can still pick up the proteins that are left on the accident spot.

In this video, Robbin Kleinpenning from tells us more tips on how to housebreak a French Bulldog:


Housebreaking a French Bulldog is an important task every owner should fulfill. It grooms the dog to be independent in the future while saving you from the hassle of accidents. Remember to be patient and consistent to make the process faster.