Training French Bulldogs and Kids to Get Along
When we look at the origins of many of today’s dog breeds we typically see a cross range of hunting or herding and even guard dogs. In other words they were created for a specific type of work or task. In contract to this the French Bulldog was created only to be a friend. And it is because of their devotion that they make the ideal choice as a family pet. Give them a house full of people and they’re in their element!
If you talk with a few owners they will quickly tell you their Frenchie is great with the kids in the family. They’re lots of fun to be with, and not demanding with exercise. All Frenchies love human attention, and thrive off love and praise. And with kids in the house, they’ll live to compliment each other. In fact, many parents will say that their child’s relationship with the family Frenchie is a positive factor in their overall emotional development.
Ideally, you should adopt your Frenchie as a pup, so they grow up under the same roof as your kids. That way they will see the kids as part of their ‘pack’. If the puppy is well socialized they will be tolerant and patient with your kids. As with all breeds, Frenchie pups will go through a teething phase where they are always looking for things to chew on. This is when accidents can happen. Your child can get ‘nipped’ because the puppy has not yet learned to distinguish between a soft toy and a hand. So this is a good reason to always have lots of ‘chew’ toys available.
The only other time your child may get nipped is because they have done something the dog really doesn’t like. Children, and especially small kids, need to be reminded that when dog’s growl it’s a warning. So, they need to stop what they are doing. It’s all part of learning that the dog is not a toy. For the most part, they both need to be supervised in the early part of the relationship so that they get used to each other.
Remember to head off any jealousy developing by giving your Frenchie lots of attention in front of your kids. The same thing goes for any other pets in your household. If they are introduced to your Frenchie at an early age he/she will learn to accept all as part of the ‘pack’ and will less likely become jealous or aggressive. Young kids in particular need to learn that your dog’s sleeping time in his basket is also a time to leave them alone. The same applies to eating time. Applying just these few rules will make a huge difference to the ‘harmony’ in the household.
Frenchies also love kids because they are usually the ones who can keep up with this breed’s stamina. As long as it’s a short duration it works. Owners should always be careful not to over-exercise this breed as they are prone to heatstroke and exhaustion. Another thing to keep in mind is that most Frenchies cannot swim. So if you have a backyard with a pool, keep a close eye on your puppy.
French Bulldogs are such a loving and loyal breed, however they can sometimes become overprotective guardians to the kids in their family. Especially when they may be surrounded by strangers from outside their family group. This is not likely to be a big issue. It’s just something to be aware of.
The best way to prevent this overprotective behavior occurring is to socialize your French Bulldog puppy at a young age. Take them to the park and introduce them to new people as often as you can. If you teach them that being around strangers is not a threat, then you will be able to trust that they will not overreact in the company of new people.
Another important training issue with children is helping them to understand the correct way to pick up Frenchies. Frenchies love the rough and tumble play they get with kids. But children must be taught to not pick up the dog by his/her head. Handled correctly the puppy and child will get along beautifully.
Of course, all dogs will vary in temperament. If you are adopting an older Frenchie you will want to have your family meet him or her in a controlled environment. That way you can gauge reactions and make sure they are comfortable around all the family members.
Teaching Children To Use Commands
As much as correct handling techniques are important for children to learn, so too is there verbal communication habits. They need to understand that the ‘pitch’ in their voice plays an important factor to getting the response they desire. Using a steady low pitch signifies authority or confidence.
A high-pitched command is associated with excitement, fear or even a threat (depending on the situation). Using a high-pitched voice is OK if they are trying to initiate some play, but generally speaking dogs respond best to commands that are relatively low-pitched and said with clear meaning.
Have children practice their commands using a firm, clear and low vocal pitch. Help them to understand that they need to tell the puppy what they want them to do instead of asking them to do it. For example, get them to experiment saying “DOoowwwn” which makes best use of pitch and volume. Combine this with an open palm facing down and this will clearly communicate the intention.
The choice of words that children use is also important. Loud noises (like shouting “NO”) will get a dog’s attention for a moment, but it won’t get long-term results. Dogs will ultimately respond better to commands such as “Sit!” or “Down”.
Ultimately, we should all aim for a degree of clear and effective communication, but particularly between children and a puppy. To learn more about obedience training and using voice commands, review our recent article: 5 Step Basic Obedience Training For French Bulldog Puppies.
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