Leash training is an important part of dog ownership, whether you are starting with an 8-week-old puppy or an adult whose training has been neglected.
A dog that is good on a leash is safer around people and other dogs do not disrupt or distract and stays within control of the handler. So how do you train a French Bulldog to walk on a leash?
The keys are to start slow, be persistent and patient, and keep rewards consistent. Do not expect the pup to naturally understand what is expected of it.
For dogs, whose noses are much more sensitive than the human scent organ, the world is a distracting place. Handlers have to convince dogs to pay attention to the trainers.
Start with introductions. The dog needs to learn the equipment, that the equipment means good things are coming, and that coming to the handler earns a reward.
After that, it is all brought together for short bursts of movement that lead to long walks inside the house. Keep introducing new distractions. The French Bulldog will continue to learn.
Introduce the French Bulldog to the equipment.
This video by Zak George does a great job of breaking down the introduction of a puppy to a harness and leash: How to Train Your New Puppy to Walk on a Leash! It does not rush steps but ensures the dog is comfortable and engaged in each step of the way.
Use treats and a positive tone to bring the new objects into the dog's world. When the harness or collar is finally worn, be sure that every time they are fastened, it is with praise and treats. They must be construed as positive parts of the French Bulldog's existence.
Introduce the dog to a reward cue.
For some people, the word "good" or "yes" is a reward cue. For other handlers, it is the sound of a training clicker. The important thing is for the French Bulldog to associate that sound with the treat of its choice.
Have the dog come to you.
Wearing the collar or harness and lead, the dog should now come to you and be rewarded with a cue and treat. Take a few steps and have the dog come to you again. Do not let the dog lead; this teaches bad habits.
Practice in slow steps.
The more steps there are in training a behavior, the more opportunities there are for the dog to be successful and be rewarded for that success.
Stay on each stage long enough to ensure the dog has got it down. If the dog seems confused or balks, back up to the last successful step. Also, keep sessions short and positive.
Start practicing indoors.
Go for walks around the house with the French Bulldog. Have the Frenchie treat it as coming to you over and over again, until there are no breaks in between and the walk proceeds smoothly.
Keep the dog's attention with treats and a positive tone. Sharon Wirant advises linking walks with good times on webmd.com.
Take the walk outside.
The outside world is where the real challenge begins. The handler can try to control every variable, but things like birds and blowing leaves and cars backfiring are bound to draw a learning dog's attention. Keep the dog focused with commands like "sit" and "watch me" and with treats.
Expect to backslide a little the first few times, or even the first few dozen times, new variables are introduced into the dog's world.
This is an important time for socialization as well, so insist on good leash manners when meeting new people and other dogs. Introduce new distractions slowly.
How early should French Bulldogs begin leash training?
As early as eight weeks old, the pup should be introduced to the equipment in a positive fashion. Use rewards and an upbeat voice to tell the dog that this equipment means something good is coming. Then continue to follow the steps as laid out above.
What type of equipment should be used on French Bulldogs?
Never use a choke chain on a French Bulldog. Porkypaws.com advises against these because the breed possesses smaller tracheas along with shorter noses; they have a propensity toward respiratory problems that choke chains can aggravate.
Try regular buckle collars or harnesses that are ergonomically designed for the body of the French Bulldog. The material should be sturdy to match the muscular physique of the Frenchie. Collars and harnesses come in a variety of colors and patterns to suit any style.
What are the challenges of leash-training a French Bulldog?
This breed is known for its affability and its close relationship to people. French Bulldogs are also known to contain a stubborn streak, according to dogtime.com on French Bulldogs.
This can cause challenges during training. Persistence, patience, and consistent rewards will help overcome this while training to walk on a leash.
What are the walking requirements of a French Bulldog?
French Bulldogs do not require much exercise. They are not high-energy dogs and, in fact, find much exercise difficult.
According to barkercise.com's French Bulldog Exercise Needs Guide, the Frenchie should get short walks of ten to fifteen minutes at a relaxed pace.
The same source reminds that exercise should take place before meals. This breed tends to grow drowsy when full and will prefer to just lie around. Walks should be engaging times when the dog bonds with the handler.
What if the dog still pulls on the leash?
Frenchiewiki.com suggests a no-pull harness as a tool for avoiding pulling. Special equipment is generally not required, however. A zero tolerance policy is what will guide the dog to realizing that pulling does not get anywhere.
What if the dog lunges?
Especially in these early sessions, a handler's attention should be split between the French Bulldog and the world around.
Watch the dog for cues of lunging and distract before it has the chance to do so, according to the American Kennel Club. Reward once the temptation is passed.
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.