In early August 2016 I welcomed a new roommate, a French Bulldog puppy who I named Vince aka Vince Charming aka Vince Cincy.
In the time we’ve lived together, I’ve probably veered toward the ridiculous (in others’ opinions, not mine) because he lets me dress him up and take his photo, which I post to Instagram and Facebook. But I like to think that some people want to smile, be happy, and have a chuckle and Vince does all of that for me and more.
There isn’t a person who has met Vince who isn’t charmed in some way. Sure, he has puppy teeth that are a little much when he’s playing and he farts when he is nervous (or gets a certain kind of treat), but he has an amazing confidence that everyone loves him: people, babies, big dogs, little dogs and probably cats if they wouldn’t run off before he could get to them.
Since I’ve been asked about my experiences being a new puppy owner and what stuff I bought to welcome him, here’s a post to tackle most of it.
Vince joined me when he was 10 weeks old and I decided to continue crate training him to help with potty training – based on others’ stories about this breed and puppies, in general, it was the right decision for us.
The first week he was home with me, I took him out every 3-4 hours including overnight to give the potty command. The few accidents he had this first week were when I veered from this routine or when he was playing inside and thought it was just like playing outside – pee as needed. A few times of taking him outside and giving the potty command corrected that.
From day one he has liked his crate and sees it as a place to sleep or tuck away from the activity of the house. I have hardwood floors so he has other beds and pillows around the house, but usually he retreats to his crate. If I’m in the kitchen he hangs out on an outdoor seat cushion under the table, which is especially den-like because it has drop-leaf sides.
Prior to completing his puppy shots, I used training books, websites, and YouTube videos to create training groundwork with the idea this is more about the owner behaving consistently to get the dog to behave. I used treats to reward and reinforce when he pottied outside and when we worked on loose leash walking in the backyard.
Once he was cleared to socialize, we signed up for a 6-session puppy training class at Petco. Again, training for the owner as much as the dog. He started training knowing his name, site and come so I knew he had the desire to please. Once I bought a small area rug, he mastered down. If I say paw, he will lift his right paw. He knows leave it and up (meaning stand up in the booster seat so I can lift you out, in hindsight I probably should have been using stand but eh). He is working on roll over, which I’m surprised has been so hard because he likes to lay on his back in the grass for a belly rub.
From 10 to 18 weeks, he only played and trained in my or my parents’ yard. I welcomed any friends who wanted to visit us because some dog books claim puppies need to be introduced to something like 100 people by 4 months. I didn’t keep a tally, but until his immunity was strong, I kept him away from dogs and where dogs might have done their business. But keep in mind, your own yard is only as good as the neighbors who pick up after their dog. I even had a trash can with bags, until it was stolen, to help others keep my yard safe for Vince.
Once Vince was about 5 months, we joined a bulldog playgroup with a dog trainer so that Vince could socialize, burn off energy, and as an owner I could learn how to react to other dogs and owners. I don’t want to be the kind of owner who goes to the dog park and is basket case or thinks my dog does no wrong.
Collar – his first collar was size small, but one that’s no bigger than 12″ should work
Harness – I bought one from Petco after I had him so they could size him, but his first was x-small and around 5 months he moved up to small
Tag Quick Clip – I got this so I can easily move his three tags from collar to harness
Tags – he wears a personalized one with my info, his county registration, and rabies
Blanket or towels – I did the most consecutive laundry ever in my life that first week he was home
Sheepskin Mat – for his crate until he was done chewing
Dog bed – his chewing phase ended around 4 months
Bitter Apple Spray – I made my own from 1 part vinegar 2 parts apple cider vinegar
Toys – Murphy’s Law says whatever you buy your puppy before meeting him, he won’t like. The toys Vince likes most came from friends as gifts, Kroger, Walgreens and TJMaxx, but I’ve also bought toys from Chewy, Petsmart, Petco and Amazon. He has balls, squeakers, stuffies, bones, ropes which I rotate in and out of the bin to see what he likes
Dog Booster Seat – he goes to my parents house every day so I wanted to keep him contained in the car especially when he was a curious puppy who was into chewing everything. After a couple of weeks, he adjusted to his booster seat. But he did spend some rides chewing on the metal clips, which made a terrible screeching noise in my ear. In hindsight, he should have been in the backseat from day one so he couldn’t see me and think I was ignoring him when I was driving.
Puppy Training Pads – I had one inside, but he only chewed on it while playing. I had one outside on the front porch for the first day and night to see that he was actually going (he was so low to the ground I couldn’t see much). He caught on that he needed to go in the grass so I could have done without and just used paper outside.
Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen – a friend gave me a metal pen, which I used for a bit at my parents because their yard isn’t fenced in and backs up to wood. At the time I used this pen, Vince was learning to do business and then play. I would place him in the pen (door open but his legs were too short to help himself out), give his potty command, and then take him out to walk on a leash and explore the rest of the yard. Could I have skipped this? Probably if I didn’t have a strict work schedule to keep so I needed to make our lunch visits as efficient as possible so this was the structure he needed to learn a new environment with his commands.
Portable PlayPen – first few weeks I had him, I used this soft-sided playpen because my living, dining and kitchen are all one space, but he could easily crawl under the sofa and hide and then yelp if he thought I wasn’t paying enough attention to him (he could get out as easily as he crawled in). Then, I used it as a barrier to close off space so he could play within my eyesight. It was worth it for a few weeks, but big or power-chewing puppies could easier escape this thing. I use window screens to block off the doorway to the hall or to keep him away from something.
Those first couple of days and weeks, I felt like was referring to books and Google to answer questions. I also asked my friend who has had a Frenchie since he was a puppy a lot of questions. But it only lasted a few weeks and we both got into a routine that works for us.
Overall, it has been an enjoyable ride! He makes me laugh every day and by far is the best decision I made in 2016!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and Vince gets more clothes and puppy treats when you click through our links and purchase anything – so thank you!