Like most indoor dogs, the French Bulldog loves attention and hates being alone. But what if you have to leave them on their own – to go to work, or to hang out with friends. Can they manage it without destroying the place?
Yes, you can leave your French Bulldog at home alone while you work. With a little bit of training on the part of the owner and dog, you’ll have a perfectly cheerful, not-destructive, companion waiting for you at the end of your workday.
According to the American Kennel Club, French Bulldogs were the second most popular breed in the US in 2021. Given that most people were at home due to the COVID pandemic, it was a fantastic time to find a new canine companion, since new pet parents were home and able to spend plenty of time connecting with their new furry friends. However, as more people are returning to their job sites, they find themselves asking, “Can a French Bulldog be left alone?”
So, can a French Bulldog be left alone?
There is some debate between various sources, though they all point to the same issue in leaving a French Bulldog at home alone: separation anxiety. Due to their fun-loving nature, the French Bulldog is known to get very attached to its owner.
Even before the opportunity to spend all day with them was an option, this lovable breed developed a tight bond with their owners, leaving those owners coming home to destruction after a day at work if they weren’t trained for the absence.
Though there isn’t documented scientific research for a French Bulldog to experience separation anxiety, reports from veterinarians, breeders, and owners seem to have found a correlation between whether the Frenchie was raised with the same owner or whether they were adopted.
The stability of remaining in the same environment seems to help the Frenchie remain settled when faced with being alone, whereas Frenchies who have been rescued from a shelter may already be suffering from abandonment, so seeing their new owners leaving may trigger their fears of being abandoned again, thus they are anxious when their owners disappear!
What does separation anxiety look like in a French Bulldog?
The easy answer is that it looks like an escape attempt!
Common damage includes scratching on walls, window frames, and doors as if your Frenchie is trying to dig their way out to get you. As heartwarming as that sounds, it’s not good for your drywall! What’s more, when their nails don’t get them the results they want, they’ll try chewing, instead. Since they love chewing, they may not stop at the door frame.
Just in case that’s not enough, they have also been known to bark and howl constantly in the complaint of being left alone and whine in the complaint, when the barking doesn’t work. Those living in apartments or connected housing may be in trouble with their neighbors after a day of this! Worse, in areas with noise ordinances, owners could find themselves paying fines, as well.
Frenchies have also been known to suffer from uncontrolled defecation and urination when overly excited and leaving them alone may prove too much for them to control these urges. Even if they’ve established their potty routines, they may not be able to follow them fast enough to keep from adding this to the list of destructive habits.
However, if this behavior is observed more than once, contact your veterinarian to make sure your Frenchie isn’t experiencing a health issue that would cause this change in their habits.
Nipping and dancing around the feet of their owners to keep them from leaving may also be a problem.
If not excited, owners may, instead, notice their Frenchie falling into depression. Hiding, walking around with their heads and tails down, or watching the movements of their owners around the room with sad eyes are all symptoms of Frenchie depression.
In the short term, it’s more gut-wrenching guilt for the owner than for the Frenchie. If it goes longer than a few days, it might be a good idea to take your Frenchie to visit the veterinarian to make sure they’re not more affected by their depression than just looking sad.
How can owners help their French Bulldogs stay home alone?
There are ways around their separation anxiety, thankfully, though it will take training on the owner’s part, as well as the dog. Not only do the dogs need training, the owners have to learn how to stick to support the Frenchies, too. The following methods have been known to allow the French Bulldog to be left alone for an entire workday without destruction, upset neighbors, or depressed French Bulldog energy:
Create a routine and stick to it
Sometimes, being predictable is good! If you always leave at the same time, always follow the same routine and establish habits while getting ready to leave, your Frenchie will figure out that you’re about to leave.
Always come home at the same time and establish a routine for that too, so your Frenchie will be able to anticipate your return. Even better, it’ll prove that the owners come home, again, every time, which will go far in helping your French Bulldog not be anxious when you leave.
There are many mixed messages about crate training animals and locking them in each day for long periods of time. Owners will have to decide what their comfort level is with the practice, as there are pros and cons both for and against it
Not crating a Frenchie may result in damage to your home and can result in injury to your dog. However, crating them may push the Frenchie into depression! It could also restrict the movement of their excited behavior, which could cause injury to your Frenchie, though potentially not as severe as broken glass or splintered wood.
Calm leaving and returning
The urge to reassure a Frenchie that you’ll be back is really difficult to fight, especially when they start throwing those sad puppy eyes at you. Consider this as part of your routine and keep the leaving and returning home calm!
Keep coming home as calm as leaving in the morning and you won’t be dealing with a hyper Frenchie who dances around your feet and trips you as you come into the house.
They will be glad to see you, but if you are routinely calm and always make the same, calm movements, when you’re leaving and when you’re coming home, you will establish being calm as the expectation. Just remember to play with them later!
Give treats or toys when you leave
Reward for your Frenchie NOT being excited as you leave. Don’t throw the toy or make your Frenchie do tricks. This will just get them excited, which is exactly the opposite of what you want.
If you’ve had a Frenchie for any amount of time, you already know how much they love chew toys. Handing them their favorite chew toy or a chewy treat will help distract them from seeing you leaving, making it easier to slip out without a lot of excitement or sad puppy eyes.
Just be careful not to give in to the urge to make this a playtime for the Frenchie… or you!
Leave something to help your Frenchie feel as if they’re not alone
This works like giving your Frenchie a toy or treat before you leave. Distraction is the key to fighting Separation Anxiety, so leaving a radio or TV on while you’re away will give your Frenchie the feeling of someone else being there with them, which will help them not be so lonely.
The good news is that this works longer than just giving him a toy or treat!
Get an automatic treat dispenser
This one can be tricky, as the urge to give a lot of treats while you’re gone will be difficult to resist. Overfeeding your Frenchie can lead to obesity and quite a few other health impairments, though, so talk to your Vet about how much is too much, then set the auto-timer with that in mind.
This provides some entertainment and will help reinforce a routine, even when you’re not home! An automatic treat dispenser will also help your Frenchie not feel lonely during the day!
Condition your Frenchie by leaving for shorter times at first and gradually making the absence longer.
Try working up to being gone for a full workday by starting with shorter absences and gradually increasing them, rather than leaving for eight hours from the start. Start with being gone fifteen minutes before coming home, then double it the next day. Double it again on the following day and then again the one after. The gradual increase will reinforce the routine and remind them that you’re not abandoning them!
Talk to your Frenchie through a remote camera during the day
This idea gets eyerolls, sure, but think about the benefits before you give in to the urge. A remote camera will allow you to keep up with your Frenchie and allow you to become a routine treat during the day, as well! Do it at the same time every day and you’ll break the long separation into smaller chunks!
So, if you are asking whether a French Bulldog can be left alone, try a few of these training tips. It won’t be long until your Frenchie is able to stay by themselves without destroying your home, leading to a much happier companionship for you both!