When we first got our little Frenchie, Toby, the first couple weeks we spent trying to get him to feel comfortable with us and our apartment. With a lot of quality time spent playing with him and positive reinforcement, Toby quickly became very confident to his new family and new environment. His energetic and confident nature made us think that he was ready to go on his first walk.
Boy, was I wrong!
Toby was now 4 months old and had just received his final booster shot and we were excited to take him outside the apartment for his first real walkies. We hastily put his French bulldog puppy harness attached the leash to the D-hook and off we went without a problem. I wish.
Toby hated his harness. He sat down, slumped his neck and gave us his sad Frenchie look. He wasn’t going to move. We tried to spur him on by pulling on the leash, but this made him resist even more. We tried pulling on the leash again and now we were literally dragging him out the door. This wasn’t going to happen, so we decided to pick him up and carry him outside.
"The first encounter with the outside world."
We carried him through the building’s doors and placed his bottom on the tough cement and gave him a moment. Toby was looking around, trying to acclimatize to his new surroundings. Nervously he looked at the people walking by then looked back at us. We started to walk a few steps away and with positive reinforcement and encouraging him on, our first moment of success! Toby took his first step, and then another and then another.
He was walking!
We were very excited with his progress, talking about which route we were going to take to the park, how many times a day we would take him for a walk, who was going to pick up his poo, and then suddenly without warning, Toby planted his bottom back on the floor and stopped. Oh no “Come on Toby, you can do it”. Nope. Toby went back to his sad and slumped over the position and that was it for the day. From what I remember we spent a few more minutes trying to get him back in his stride but failed miserably.
We ended up carrying Toby home all the way back home.
Does this story sound familiar? Has it happened to you?
In hindsight, the way we approached Toby’s first walk was all wrong and probably made him more anxious and nervous about what was supposed to be an exciting and playful walk. What we should have done (this is a very important step for all first-time puppy owners) is slowly introduce Toby to the harness a couple days before we planned to take him for a walk. Toby didn’t like going for a walk on the lead, he just wasn’t used to wearing a harness. This new garment was foreign to him and probably made him even more nervous about going for a walk outside, another first time for him. If we had slowly accustomed Toby to the harness and then with a lead.
When you are first introducing a harness to your French Bulldog puppy, it is a good idea to try and distract him by playing with him or giving him treats.
Adjusting your Frenchie to the Leash
Once your French Bulldog becomes comfortable in their harness, attach your leash to the buckle and drop the leash on the floor. Make sure to watch your puppy as he runs around with the leash dragging behind him. Take if off after a few minutes and repeat the process, with each time being longer than the last.
After your Frenchie is comfortable with the leash being attached to him, pick up the leash and follow him around for a few minutes around your house. During this time, do not apply any pressure on the leash as it may scare your puppy and make him anxious. Praise your Frenchie and give him rewards for being such a good boy.
Pro Tip: Make sure that harness fits your puppy snuggly as he grows.
Now it is time to take your Frenchie outside. Take him outside the house (a backyard is usually the best place) and place him on the left side of you, so that he will get used to walking on your left.
Before leaving, make sure your Frenchie is calm. If you Frenchie starts to get too excited, do a quick jerk on the leash and give a firm command such as “sit” and then praise him when he is sitting. After he has calmed down take him outside for his walk.
It is vital that your dog doesn’t lead you or pull on the leash when you take him for a walk. The first few times, try and go on short walks around the block so that he becomes familiar with his surroundings. If he starts to pull, give it a quick jerk and tell him to “sit”. When he sits praise him and continue to do this every time he pulls. After he begins to understand that you are the one leading him, you can attempt to take him for longer walks, when you feel more confident in your control over him.