Thankfully biting isn’t all that common with Frenchies, especially if you start training them as soon as you get them home. The majority of French Bulldogs won’t bite. As a breed they have a great temperament.
However, it can still happen, and French Bulldog puppy biting problems are one of the most challenging issues I am asked about on social media.
Speaking from real-life experience, our Frenchie Claude has never bitten anybody aggressively. However, he was very nippy as a puppy, and in truth, a lot of that was my fault due to the way I would play with him. I soon learned fast that I was going to get nipped!
We have also had to look after Lola the French Bulldog puppy who was constantly biting. I worked with their owner to try and stop the biting problem and had great success. It was particularly important as she also had two young children to consider.
Please read down and take everything in. I believe this is the most comprehensive guide to stopping a French Bulldog biting that you will find anywhere online. Make a drink, sit back, and I will teach you how to stop the keep biting problem, starting off with why it happens.
Why French Bulldog Bite? What’s normal and what’s not
Fear and aggression in French Bulldogs is perfectly normal. But this can start off with something as normalised as barking. Barking is typically your Frenchie’s way of telling you to keep your distance.
If you decide to not heed the warning, the barking can then progress to a growling and showing of the teeth. If you continue to approach and invade their space, the bite is the next natural step.
In most cases it will be a little nip which won’t break the skin. However, with a more aggressive Frenchie this bite can be very painful as they have very strong jaws. For parents this will be of particular concern if a French Bulldog bites your child.
Do French Bulldogs bite a lot?
As puppies, yes, Frenchies can bite and nip as part of teething and play. As a general rule of thumb, they will get over this behaviour.
Generally speaking though, Frenchies are a non-aggressive breed. Most of it will be down to how the owner has trained and raised the dog.
Why French Bulldog puppies bite
Sometimes the puppies will start to bite for fun, others will bite during the teething phase (read more about teething here). Frenchies use their mouths to explore, and small nips here and there can be explained away by their age. Other will bite and act aggressive out of fear, and others will bite too enthusiastically during play.
Another reason why Frenchie puppies bite can also be to try to show that they are the ones who are in charge of your relationship. If this is the case with your puppy, it must be stopped immediately as if you have a puppy that believes it is dominant, its nibbling will be just the beginning of your troubles.
Whichever scenario you face, biting is a behavior that needs to be nipped (no pun intended) in the bud as soon as possible when the dog is younger. This will help to prevent bigger problems as the Frenchie gets older.
But there is a fine line between biting and playing. Our own Frenchie Claude is a classic example. As a puppy I would play with him probably a little too enthusiastically, and he would go for my hands as a result – thankfully he grew out of it, and yours probably will too.
Adult Frenchies that bite are a problem
However, French Bulldogs that bite into adulthood are problematic, especially if the biting suddenly starts with no previous form. In this case, please take the dog to the vet immediately to rule out any illness or injury that could be causing the biting problems.
In cases such as this, vets will often recommend a dog behaviour specialist.
How to stop your French Bulldog puppy from biting
If your Frenchie puppy starts to show aggressive behaviour and biting it does need to be stopped as soon as it can. Otherwise it could continue into adulthood and become a bigger problem that is behavioural rather than playful.
Here’s how I stopped a French Bulldog from biting as a puppy.
1. Squeal like a puppy (bite inhibition)
When puppies play together, they will squeal when bitten by another pup. In the litter you will see this happening, and the squeal results in the biting puppy backing away.
As humans we can mimic this behaviour.
When your French Bulldog puppy bites or nips you, let out a high-pitched squeal or use a firm “no’ vocal command.
This is a hugely popular method used by dog trainers as it makes your puppy believe that he hurts you every time he gives you a bite.
You might find that your puppy takes this telling off to heart. When we tried it with Lola she would get all submissive and run to my wife for reassurance.
The key is to not comfort them at this point, as this could lead to more biting. By shunning the puppy momentarily, you will get the best results. It sounds harsh, but if you really do want your French Bulldog to stop biting, you need to stick firm.
The sooner you start doing this, the sooner your puppy will learn that biting is not ok.
We used this method with Claude and Lola successfully. It really does work very well.
2. Don’t react back to biting with play
When you want your Frenchie puppy to stop biting, never react back with playful pushes off, a wrestling game, or running away. By doing so, you are encouraging the bad behaviour.
Puppies love playing, so if you mirror back their biting with a bit of rough play then it’s game on.
This is one of the most important tips, and to not do so will only prolong the period you have to try to stop the bad attitude.
3. Put a thumb under the puppy’s tongue and a finger under the chin
I’ve not used this tip as it does seem a little barbaric, and harder work than it possibly needs to be, but you might want to try it if all else fails.
When you get bitten badly, let out a loud squeal or “no” and quickly place your thumb in his mouth, underneath the tongue. Then place another finger under the chin.
Hold this position for 5 minutes, but not too hard. Your puppy will feel uncomfortable it will train him to not keep biting you.
A dog trainer gave me this tip and swears by it.
4. Wear gloves with a nasty tasting substance
This is another bite prevention method I’ve not used but was given by a dog trainer. It involves wearing a pair of gloves with something on it that tastes bad. My trainer recommended a bitter spray (see it on Amazon).
After a few bites, your Frenchie will soon learn that if it bites you, it will not taste good!
5. Use chew toys instead of your hands
Whilst it might be tempting to use your hands to play with the puppy who is biting, don’t do it. I understand why this is tempting, as the puppy bites isn’t actually that hard – until they get older!
If you see the puppy starting to come towards your hands or fingers, move them out the way and use a chew toy instead. By focusing on the toy instead, the puppy will learn that hands are not for biting and will associate a chew toy with biting instead.
6. Don’t encourage them to bite your feet
Another area you might have a biting problem is with your feet, shoes, and shoelaces. Frenchie puppies love to chase feet and bite at shoes, and yes, it is fun, but curb it sooner rather than later.
If you don’t, they will continue to try and bite your feet into adulthood thinking that your shoes are toys. Use the same preventative methods listed in points 1 and 2 to discourage feet nipping.
7. Don’t smack your Frenchie puppy
Physical force never works. From talking to animal behaviouralists and vets, they say that a physical punishment will only exacerbate the biting problem and create more fear and aggression in your French Bulldog.
Fear is the root of so many biting problems and will only make your puppy feel scared of you and be more inclined to deliver a nasty nip.
8. Teach your Frenchie to accept your hands near their mouth
I’ve already mentioned how you should not use your hands around puppy’s when they start to bite, instead reverting to toys. But you still need to teach your Frenchie puppy to be accepting when your hands do go near the mouth.
As puppies, you will need to fish things out of their mouth, and into adulthood check their teeth and administer medicines.
You need to train them to not bite your hands when your fingers need to go into the mouth area. Do this by giving them a small treat and then quickly taking it out of their mouth.
9. Train your Frenchie puppy to not bite over food
Another flashpoint will be food. Puppies are very protective of their food bowl and will wolf it down in seconds to stop anybody else from eating it. But this behaviour that was learned from a young age, will also result in biting problems around their food dish.
Food aggression is a problem even with the most well-behaved Frenchie so your aim here is to train the puppy that you can take food away from it with no aggressive response.
Here’s how you do it; place the food bowl in front of the puppy then quickly take it away. If you don’t get an aggressive reaction, reward the behaviour with praise and putting the bowl back down again.
If you are growled at, give a firm and loud “no” and keep holding the bowl for a few moments.
Keep repeating the lesson until your French Bulldog puppy learns that you, the master, have control over food and can give or take it away at will.
If you have kids, then also get them to practice this as the dog should never have dominance over any member of your household.
If you can stop your French Bulldog puppy biting over food, then your almost there with having a perfectly well adjusted and non-aggressive pet.
10. Let them know who is in charge
I’ve touched upon the issue of exerting your authority and not letting your French Bulldog becoming the dominant one.
However, you might still experience it in other scenarios such as them being jealous of another pet, child, or visitor. It can also occur when you try to get your dog to get down off a couch or bed to make way for you.
This is there way of exerting dominance over you so nip it in the bud by reinforcing good behaviour. You can use a treat to reward them once you’ve lifted them down or got them to jump down themselves.
11. Socialise your puppy with other dogs
Make sure that your puppy has opportunities to play with other dogs. Puppies learn from each other and particularly older dogs. That’s why I recommend two Frenchies are better than one, as the younger takes a lead from the elder.
We found this when Lola came to visit, as she would play with Claude and learn from him as to what is acceptable and what isn’t – and that included constantly biting.
Not only do they learn from each other, but they will also wear each other out. This means your puppy hopefully won’t have the energy to bite you!
If you can’t get two dogs or have one visit you, invest time and money in puppy socialisation classes where they can learn to interact with other people and dogs.
12. Expose your puppy to loud noises and fearful situations
Now obviously I am not suggesting that you go out of your way to scare your young dog, but it is important to expose them to situations that could spark fear, aggression,and biting. Think of things such as loud noises from traffic passing by, children shouting, or noisy public environments.
The sooner you can get your Frenchie trained to be calm in these situations, the more chance you stand of them not reacting badly and reacting with a fearful or aggressive bite.
13. Always supervise young children with a puppy
A French Bulldog that bites a child is a hugely serious issue. I’ve heard of Frenchies being taken away from owners and destroyed due to this very reason.
In most case the bite won’t be serious. But it’s still enough of a risk to make sure you supervise younger kids during Frenchie play and at all times.
Kids can easily be knocked over by an excitable Frenchie, and I’ve seen puppies try to go for ears and faces when they are over-excited.
Whilst French Bulldogs are great with children, you should never leave them alone.
When to seek professional help
If even after using all these training methods, you still have a French Bulldog that bites, then please talk to your vet immediately.
An expert will be able to tell you whether the mouthing of your puppy is normal behaviour or something that requires a treatment plan.
There are also specialist animal behaviourists who can help with biting and fear aggression in French Bulldogs. If you are in the United States you can find help from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist on the CAAB website. For UK readers take a look at the RSPCA website.
However, please do give the puppy some degree of patience during the teething phase (which can last up to 8 months of age) but after that, if it continues there’s every chance it will carry on into adulthood.
The dangers of a dog bite
Adult dogs that bite can be serious problem. It’s potentially dangerous too. People die every year from bites, and more frequently can develop serious infections when a wound goes septic.
Around 50% of all dog bites will infect you with bacteria including capnocytophaga , pasteurella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus.
“A dog’s front teeth will grab and compress your tissue, and their smaller teeth can also tear your skin. The result is an open, jagged wound. If the wound becomes infected, it is often severe. The No. 1 concern with these bites is infection. You may need hospitalization and require intravenous antibiotics. You should always see a primary care provider if you’re bitten.” Dr Sayles of the Cleveland Clinic.
If you have been bitten by your French Bulldog and it’s an open wound rather than just a scratch, take the following action.
- Compress the wound gently by pressing on it. This will squeeze some blood out which can help to flush out as much of the bacteria as possible.
- Clean the bite wound with clean water and a mild soap.
- Press a clean cloth onto the bite to slow the bleeding down.
- Apply antibiotic cream to the bite wound.
- Dress the bite wound with a sterile bandage.
- Consult with a medical professional as soon as you can.
The general rule to stopping a French Bulldog from biting is to always encourage acceptable behavior and to discourage unacceptable behavior. This rule is fundamental in the training of any dog.
It doesn’t matter which technique you choose to train your Frenchie puppy to not bite, the rule of thumb is to be consistent in what you teach him.
This means that you (or any other person who comes into contact with your puppy) must keep in mind the strategy chosen each time your puppy begins to chew. If you have visitors and other family members, communicate with them to adopt the same strategy as you.
The bottom line is this; if you do not communicate clearly with your French Bulldog, he will not understand that what he is doing is not good. It’s up to you to show him what the acceptable behavior is. Do not just expect the puppy to know it for himself.
You need to take the role of the pack leader.
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