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Tips To Managing 3 Common Bad Habits With French Bulldog Puppies
Those early months with your new French Bulldog is the ‘getting to know each other’ time. It can also be both a wonderful and a pretty intense time. For some owners though it can be overwhelming. So, the time you spend instilling good habits in a puppy’s most formative period will be an investment in a happy future for both of you. The alternative is to be constantly managing unwanted behavior in an adult dog. And nobody wants to be doing that!
The foundation for all healthy development with puppies is early socialization. Most owners want a dog that is friendly and easy going. Think of socialization as a deliberate process of forming positive associations with other people and animals. And we do that by creating opportunities for fun and play.
Socialization sessions do not need to be long term or intense. They can be just brief and frequent interactions that will help to build his confidence and a sense of positive association with others that will continue on into adulthood.
Now that we understand the importance of socialization, lets look at 3 common bad habits that puppies usually exhibit along with some techniques for managing this particular behavior.
1. Nipping and Mouthing
Just as human babies explore their environment by trying to grasp things with their hands; puppies use their mouths to explore new and different objects. In other words, nipping and mouthing is very normal behavior albeit frustrating for the owner. Puppies need to be taught what nibbling is allowable and what is not.
We can start to manage this habit by first and foremost managing the environment in your home. If items are left at floor level they are fair game for a puppy. If you don’t want your shoes chewed, put them in a cupboard. Keep phone chargers and cables out of reach. Think like an inquisitive puppy! I appreciate that some things cannot be put away, but at this stage we are just looking for the obvious items that you don’t want to get chewed. As a side note; this is also good training for any children in the household. If they don’t want a favorite item destroyed, don’t leave it on the floor in their room.
The next step is to strategically place ‘acceptable’ chew toys around the home. That way they will always have something handy to chew on that they know belongs to them. Also, change around the chew toys from time to time to keep it interesting for them. For example, if you see them taking too much interest in some piece of furniture, you will have a toy near at hand to distract them from the unwanted activity.
The real benefit of doing this is that you are preventing a bad habit by showing them what you want them to be doing; and that you are doing it in a positive reinforcing way rather than through the use of force or punishment. You are calmly and consistently diverting behavior until it becomes a learned habit.
Nipping hands during play is also something that often needs to be addressed in puppies. You can manage this by avoiding playing rough games that involve hands. Always play with toys so that your puppy learns that his teeth go on toys (not on skin).
2. Jumping up on People
This is a very common issue especially around the adolescence stage of development. Keep in mind that it is much easier to ween out bad behaviors in the puppy stage. So, you should have strategies in place at an early age. If you don’t want your dog to jump up on people then practice commands like ‘Sit’ or ‘Down’ to get their attention.
For the practical steps to learning these commands, see our other article: 5 Step Basic Obedience Training For French Bulldog Puppies.
Another command all puppies should learn is ‘Go To Bed’. The steps to learn this are fundamentally the same as with all the commands. Ultimately, it’s really all about embedding good manners in their minds. If you are both proactive and consistent in your approach you will end up with a very well socialized adolescent (and later adult) dog.
3. Digging in the Garden
If your puppy has developed the habit of digging holes in your lawn or flower beds, then it will require a bit of ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to train them out of this particular behavior. Chances are they finds digging a lot of fun. So, rather than punish or move them inside, why not create their own special digging area?
What will make that area (or corner) special for him is if you bury a variety of toys and ‘chewable’ items in his area. Don’t forget to praise him for digging in the right place. You could even join in and make it a game! Remember, if he does start to dig in the wrong place then simply redirect him to his special spot and encourage him to dig there instead.
With all bad habits in young dogs, there is one additional issue that must always be front-of-mind. Why? Because it can compound any bad behaviors that you are trying to correct. What is this issue?
An overstimulated ‘tired’ puppy is far more likely to become unmanageable. What makes this issue hard to manage it because it is a moving target! Just when you think you have his routine worked out around a balance of training, diet, play and rest, he changes. He grows bigger, along with his appetite, and you have to figure out what ‘balance’ means all over again.
The bottom line is; whatever his activity level make sure your puppy gets adequate rest throughout the day so that he is not grumpy and mischievous in the evening.
As you can see with these suggested techniques, what we are trying to achieve in most situations is to not so much ‘eliminate’ bad behavior, as it is to ‘redirect’ the activity into something more acceptable. (The exception being Jumping up on people). In effect, we are observing what the purpose or function of the activity is and then redirecting their energy into a more appropriate behavior. By trying to see what their motives may be, we can more easily find an activity that will satisfy you both.
This professional online dog training course comes highly recommended.
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Last update 2023-06-02. Price and product availability may change.