A step by step guide to crate training a bulldog puppy

Crate training a bulldog puppy

When it comes to housebreaking a new dog, crate training is the ultimate solution, it provides a safe den for your puppy, helps establish rules, and does a great job with the potty training part.

Crate training a Bulldog is an easy task, this wonderful dog is known for being sweet, devoted, and easygoing.

The crate training process should start as soon as the dog is home, and the younger the puppy the better, old dogs tend to have acquired old habits that need to be changed.

Crate training a puppy is basically creating a good and healthy relationship with the crate, that’s why it’s a delicate process that needs to be planned and prepared for.

Should bulldogs be crate trained?

Most new dog owners have no idea about crate training, why should they do it, and if it’s worth it in the first place.

These questions are natural, any decision requires a pros and cons analysis, that’s why it is best to start with the benefits of crate training a bulldog or any dog for that matter.

What you should know is that dogs are naturally denning animals, your bulldog will find a place that he’ll consider his den if you don’t provide one, it could be behind a couch, under some table, or on your bed.

The crate is a safe and personal space for your bulldog where he can relax after his meals, activities, and when you’re not around to supervise him.

The crate gives you peace of mind when you have to leave your dog alone and makes life easier when traveling and at the vet’s.

Preparing for the crate training journey

When you bring a new dog home it’s always an exciting moment, and you’re eager to take him out shopping for a crate, toys, and food.

But before you put a leash on your bulldog and head to the pet store, there are a few important things you need to know to make the right choices.

Choosing the right crate

There are various types of crates that you can get, not all dogs are the same and each crate is made for a specific job.

The most popular crates are plastic and wire crates, and there are also soft-sided and heavy-duty crates for extremely aggressive dogs.

When it comes to crate training we’ve found that wire crates, are best and help make the process easier and faster.

Bulldogs are strong dogs but are not aggressive, so you don’t need a heavy-duty crate but soft-sided crates are not a good idea either.

What size crate for a bulldog?

Choosing a perfectly sized crate for your bulldog will make the crate training process easier, so what makes a crate the perfect size:

  • The crate should be big enough for the dog to stand up, lay down and turn around comfortably with a few extra inches on each side.
  • The crate should not be too big for the dog or else he’ll sleep in one corner and make the other his potty corner.
  • The crate should have a divider to adjust its size as the puppy grows not to change crates every couple of months.

Most new dog owners think that crate training is cruel and try to compensate for that with the largest crate they can get their hands on.

This is a mistake and a crate that is way too big is no longer a crate and it’s best to go for a playpen instead.

According to the AKC standards, bulldogs are 14-15 inches in height and weigh around 50 pounds, for a dog this big the perfect crate is 36 inches.

We strongly recommend the Midwest Ultima Pro Metal Crate ( check price at Amazon), it comes with a divider and has a double doors feature which makes exploring it easy for the dog in the early stages of the training.

Preparing training treats

Training treats are a very important tool that will make crate training easier and much faster, doing it without treats is very stressful but doable if you must.

Treats are used as lures to get the dog in the crate and rewards to enforce good behavior, so you must get some ready before you introduce your dog to his crate.

When choosing training treats always go for small bites, bulldogs are prone to obesity, the overuse of treats can be problematic and they’re not an active dog breed that will not tolerate the extra activity to lose weight.

They are also prone to Cardiac and patella issues, so using just enough treats is safer for their health, read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

We use and recommend Zuke’s Mini Naturals Training Dog Treats (check at Amazon) they come in very small bites and with less than 3 calories per treat.

Preparing training toys

Crate training toys

Toys are also an essential item for crate training a bulldog, you’ll need two types of toys, interactive ones, and chews.

Interactive toys are meant to reduce the dog’s energy by planning a play session before it’s time to get into the crate.

A dog that is low on energy and just had a good playtime is more willing to just relax in his crate.

Dogs should only have access to interactive toys when you are there to play with them, they are the ultimate reward especially for a dog like a bulldog that is eager to please.

Chews on the other hand can be given to the dog while in the crate, they’re used to distract the bulldog in the crate.

We recommend using The Kong (Check at Amazon), it’s strong and it can be filled with treats making a great food puzzle that will keep your dog distracted for a while, as for the interactive toys any will do, I personally prefer rope toys.

Choosing the best spot for the crate

Choosing a good spot where you’ll place the crate is as important as the crate itself, your dog needs to feel comfortable in his crate that’s why you need to choose carefully.

So what makes a good crate placement?

  • The crate should not be placed next to engines or heaters or anything that makes loud noises because it will disturb your dog.
  • It should not be directly exposed to the sun, nor placed in a windy spot.
  • The crate should not be in a dark spot that does not get some sunlight during the day.
  • The crate must be placed somewhere close to the family living area, so the dog doesn’t get bored.
  • At night the crate should be close to your bedroom so you can hear your puppy if he needs to go for a potty break or is whining in there.

We found that is very convenient to have two crates for your dog, one in the living area and another in the bedroom, or you can just use one and move it around from room to room.

Choosing the perfect time to start

My slogan when it comes to training dogs, in general, is to never introduce your dog to something when it’s time to do it, that’s why you need to choose the perfect timing to start the training.

It’s generally best to start the training as soon as your new dog is home, but it’s also better to start in the morning so your dog has time to adjust before having to sleep in the crate at night.

We recommend doing it on the weekend morning, to get as much time as possible with your dog and get him introduced to his new home, you’ll have plenty of time to get a good first impression with the use of toys and treats.

How to crate train a bulldog

Now that you’ve prepared well and chosen the perfect crate and have some treats and toys ready, you can move on to the actual training steps.

Following these steps will make the process easier for you, so make sure each step is valid and the dog is clearly on board before moving on to the next.

Rushing things could backfire and set you back, but it’s not something to worry about, you just need to go back a step and repeat the same process until it’s done.

1. Introducing your bulldog to his crate

Crate training is basically creating a relationship between the dog and his crate, like any relationship the first impression is always important.

That’s why you should avoid getting the dog in the crate and closing the door right from the start, if the dog feels trapped and freaks out it will be very hard to gain back his trust.

Take your dog preferably with the leash on and just circle the crate and let him sniff around, but don’t force it just for a couple of minutes then go back to doing something else.

Repeat the same process a few times, dogs are curious pets and he’ll finally show interest in the crate.

When you sense that your bulldog is interested in the crate it’s your cue to move on to the next step.

2. Exploring the crate

As your dog starts showing interest in the crate, it’s the perfect time to use the treats to lure him inside, just toss one in and your puppy will follow in.

Once your dog is in the crate you want to reward and praise him heavily to enforce being in the crate as good behavior that pleases you.

Bulldogs are smart enough dogs and they also love treats, so your dog will soon figure out that being in the crate means having treats and will offer to get in on his own to get the treat.

This is a great way to tell that your dog is getting used to his crate and is already associating it with some happy experiences with all the treats, the verbal praise, and the rubbing he gets in there.

Make sure when the dog is getting into the crate that the doors are well secured to avoid any incidents that might scare the dog and set you back in training.

At this stage of the crate training process, the wire crate does a great job offering an open view for the dog and double doors so he doesn’t feel trapped like in a plastic one.

3. Making the crate great

At this point of the crate training process, your bulldog should be getting in the crate willingly and already has a good thing going on with the treats and praise, all you need to do is keep it going.

There is nothing better than food to associate a place with great experiences, that’s why you need to start serving your dog his meals in the crate.

While your dog is feeding you can start working on closing the door of the crate gradually, at first you need to be next to the crate to reassure your dog that he’s not alone even if the crate is closed.

Food will keep your dog distracted but you should not rush it, once your bulldog has finished his meal you can open the door and let him out if he wants.

The next goal is to keep him in there after the meal for a while and this is where the kong or any chew toy will come in handy, it’s better to secure it to the crate to oblige the dog to stay inside.

Interacting with your bulldog while in the crate is key to keeping him the longest inside, dogs generally associate happy memories with places, this will make the crate a great place for your dog.

4. Bulldog in the crate closed

At this point, you’re only building on what you’ve achieved so far and increasing the time your dog spends in the crate closed, your dog is already feeding in his crate so once he’s done offer the kong.

Keep playing with your bulldog with the crate door closed and try to distract him if he’s trying to get out, each time increase the time he spends in the crate closed by five to ten minutes until he’s fine with spending at least 30 minutes in there.

Once your dog is used to spending time in his crate after the meals, you can start to move away slowly from the crate, a few minutes at a time.

The goal is for your bulldog to feel safe spending time alone in the crate with you not around, start slow and begin with simply moving around the room walking in and out of the room for a few minutes while gradually increasing the time.

Once your dog is enjoying his chew toy alone in the crate closed after his meals for at least 30 minutes it’s time to move on to the next and final step.

5. Home alone

At this point, your dog should be able to spend time alone in the crate with no one around without any objections, which is what crate training is all about.

Make sure your dog does some sort of activity before going into the crate, so he’s less likely to get bored and is more willing to relax, Bulldogs are not very active some a short walk or a small playing session with some interactive toys will do.

When you’re ready to leave the house make it quick for the first few times and avoid some common mistakes that could make this hard.

Most people will make a scene out of leaving and say goodbye to their dog then leave, this is a bad idea and all it does is associate being left alone with the crate.

Your dog needs to understand that you leaving the house has nothing to do with the crate, that’s why sometimes even when you’re around your dog should go into the crate.

The same thing when you get back home, just act casually as you’ve never left, keep your bulldog in his crate at least five to ten minutes after you get back.

Crate training a bulldog puppy at night

Crate training a bulldog puppy at night

Crate training a puppy at night can be intimidating especially the first night, most dogs will reject the crate and start whining, and young puppies will have to wake up for a potty break.

However, if you prepare well for the night and do a good job with the introduction phase, your bulldog will be more willing to spend the night there.

Make sure your dog feeds and goes for a walk just before he has to get into the crate for the night, this way you can limit the number of times you need to wake up to let him out for his business.

The most important thing you should keep in mind is that you should not let the puppy out of the crate when he starts whining at night, try to distract him and get his attention by talking or gently tapping on the crate.

If you do let him out he’ll know that the way out is by whining and barking and will continue to do it making life hard for you.

At first, you should ignore it, if he continues doing it for more than five minutes do what we said earlier and distract him, if you absolutely need to let him out at least break his whining cycle before you do so he doesn’t associate barking with getting out of the crate.

How long can a bulldog stay in the crate?

The time a dog can spend alone in the crate depends on many factors, but mostly it’s about the breed the age, and the activities your dog does during the day.

Younger puppies can not spend more than one hour in the crate at a time, but they can of course spend two to three sessions a day in the crate.

Active breeds also have a hard time staying in the crate for too long especially if left alone with no distractions.

A dog that has plenty of exercise and playtime before going in the crate is able to spend more time in there.

Bulldogs are not very active dogs and do not need a lot of activities so adults can go for long periods at a time but at most four hours, but they can not go back for the rest of the day and should have a good walk and some attention after the crate time.

Is it hard to crate train a bulldog puppy?

Bulldogs like we’ve mentioned before are not active dogs and do not need a lot of activity during the day, so a walk will be fine to get them down on energy and in need of a place to relax.

Bulldogs are also known to be easygoing dogs that are eager to please their owner, so they are less likely to make a scene especially at night.

This formidable breed is also intelligent and easy to train in general that’s why it doesn’t take too long to crate train a bulldog puppy.

All in all, bulldogs are one of the easier breeds to crate train, all you have to do is follow the steps and do not rush things up.