It is a well-known fact that Frenchies can be, well, sort of stubborn. We do things in our own time, and in our own way; but, that doesn't mean that we can't be trained. Training a Frenchie isn't incredibly difficult, it just requires some patience, and a large bag of treats. (I seriously will do anything for a Beggin' Strip - and, I might add, they are currently on sale at Petsmart.com through 6/14/15...excuse me while I go order a few bags). So, get your pen and paper ready (does anyone use pen and paper anymore, or is this just an irrelevant saying like "hang up the phone" - who actually hangs up a phone anymore? I digress....) - here are Daisy's Top 5 Tips for Training Your Frenchie!
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1. Train the HUMAN first.It is well known that us Frenchies need our beauty sleep, and lots of it. It is important for the human to understand and be patient. The human must first learn that teaching your Frenchie manners or new tricks is not going to happen overnight. This is especially true because Frenchies sleep at night - we need our beauty sleep, remember? (I crack myself up.) Seriously though, plan on working a little bit at a time over a long period of time to obtain the results that you are seeking and take queues from your Frenchie - when your Frenchie has had enough, let them do something else for awhile. And make sure to schedule plenty of breaks. Oh, and also make sure your Frenchie has a comfortable bed to get beauty sleep in; I sleep in a memory foam dog bed. Basically, train the human to hold the presses until the Frenchie is good and ready to participate. Just kidding, sort of.
Sweet Dreams are Made of This....
2. Build Trust
Don't forget that Frenchies are actually French Bulldogs. We stand our ground and don't let anyone - or anything - push us around, including our humans. That being said, we are also fiercely loyal - once our human has earned our trust and respect. In order to earn that trust, we require consistency and routine. Sticking to routines is like following through on a promise; the more you keep your promises, the more your Frenchie will trust you. And without trust, your Frenchie will not want to cooperate with any of your training shenanigans.
What works in our house is nightly walks and regular play time. Everyday my humans and sisters and I go for a walk; we talk with the neighbors, explore new routes, and just generally enjoy spending time as a "pack". I count on this bonding time; it is my special time that I get to enjoy my humans without any other distractions. Our nightly play time works in a similar way. Frenchies depend on routine and, quite frankly, like to be the center of their human's attention. SO PAY ATTENTION TO ME DAGNABIT! Sorry, lost my cool there - that was so bulldog of me.
Come on, human, let's go!
3. Start Small
I think this is somewhat self explanatory - don't start with trying to train your Frenchie to jump through a ring of fire while riding a unicycle and wearing a tutu. First of all, training your Frenchie to do anything with fire is really not a great idea. Unless you are training them to fire up the grill. (JUST KIDDING. I'M KIDDING. REALLY - don't put your Frenchie near a grill for heaven's sake.) Start with the basics: sit, stay, come, lay, and drop it. Then you can move on to giving the paw or speaking or other unique "tricks".
Many of you have asked how my human gets me to take all of my crazy photos. Well, here's a #FunFact, my human has actually taught me to respond to the word "photo". No, really, it's true. All she has to do is say the magic word and point to where she wants me to go, and I come running over and strike my best pose. I also growl at anyone who walks near my "set" - this was an unintended side effect of training me to become a diva, I suppose. After a few shots, I get my treat and I'm on my way. Once you start small, your Frenchie may surprise you with what he or she learns to do, as well!
Fire up the grill!
4. Keep Working at It
Like humans, Frenchies will not succeed without consistency and repetition. Think about training for a marathon, or learning an instrument: without regular practice, you won't reach your goal. Frenchies (and most dogs, for that matter) are the same. Be consistent with the training, as well as the reward. Be prepared to spend a lot of time working on the first command; the more commands your Frenchie knows, the easier the training may get (notice how I said "may get" - some Frenchies are a little more stubborn than others. Just saying.) Also, make sure to tell your Frenchie how proud you are when they achieve a goal - not like you needed a reason to kiss your Frenchie though. If the human has patience and determination, the Frenchie can learn to do anything. Well, except ride a bike - our legs are too short. Unless you have a sweet 3-in-1 Smart Trike like me.
Sing it with me now: "I'm on the hiiiighway to bacon..."
5. Have Fun
If you take training too seriously, you are going to get frustrated. And if the human is frustrated, imagine how that compact bulldog ball of energy is going to feel. Take a step back and enjoy spending time with your Frenchie, and let the training be a by-product of your bonding. If you take that approach, you won't feel pressured or stressed about training. In fact, it might become something that you look forward to. And trust me, if the human is excited about teaching (AND BRINGS BACON SNACKS - HINT HINT) the Frenchie will undoubtedly be excited about learning.
Sometimes, my human likes to set up games (like my St. Patrick's Day treasure hunt) in order to train me different commands or tasks. For example, she has set up a hidden treat game where she hides treats under cups and I have to go find them. The catch is, I can't start tearing apart the cups until she tells me to do so. I also can't growl at my human brothers when they want to help. All of these caveats and all I want is my treat. It's a ruff life, I tell ya.
"Daisy stole the cookies from the cookie jar. Who me? Couldn't be! Then who? Blame the pug."
Well, we have come to the end of my top five tips, and I hope I have inspired you to enjoy your Frenchie and train them while you're at it. Have any other suggestions to share? Leave me a comment - I'd love to hear about it!
[**Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional trainer or dog behavior expert. I am a French Bulldog. This article contains my opinions and not expert advice, except when it comes to choosing a treat. Mmm bacon....**]