May 07, 2019 6 min read



We adopted our Frenchie (ex-breeder Mom) almost 5 years ago. She was originally intended to be a gift for my daughter but that didn’t pan out so she was a welcome addition to our little family of 3 dogs, 2 females and one male (who won’t tolerate another male dog within 2 feet). My question/concern stems from the chaos that sometimes results in our house since we adopted Dixie.  For example: Before Dixie, our two females rarely fought. And my pug would at least occasionally let me hold her. Now she tries to jump down immediately or else my bully will attempt to jump up on whoever holds her and attack her. Before Dixie, all three dogs would get along, happy pack/siblings but now Dixie seems to have become the alpha and insists on being first out the door, growls at the others when she wants something first, like water.
Dixie also often growls when being pet and loved on, whereas any other dog would eat up the attention. And she seems to hate feet. Whenever we sit together on the couch/bed if we move or wiggle our toes at all, she lunges and growls at our feet, making it impossible to snuggle for very long. Just wondered if you had any tips or suggestions at all. We’ve owned different breeds all of our lives from chows to pugs, bulldogs (2 currently) to labs, Rottweilers and Elkhounds. When we picked Dixie up from rescue she was sweet and timid, compliant and cuddly. While some of the unique frenchie characteristics (as described in your “deaf” article) are similar, she has changed over the past three years and her behaviors affect the overall cohesiveness of our “fur clan” so any tips or suggestions would be welcomed!!

Hi Lorrie:

From reading your question there are a few key points you already know and are pointing out in your question which I would like to re-affirm:  Dixie wants to be the alpha and the boss, wants to control the environment and the situation. Whoever is not in line with how she wants them to behave she will show aggression.

First and foremost I would like you to ensure there is nothing medically or physically wrong with Dixie that will make her hostile or change her in anyways. The following tips will be given on the assumption that there is nothing wrong medically and her behavior changed over time due to her taking a certain role in the household that she feels is lacking.

It is important to go back to the beginning and ask in what way you introduced her to the pack. It seems like the introduction was immediate and without much adjustment time. You say that she was originally going to be your daughter's dog and that didn't work out. This fact alone gives me an insight into the situation. Since things didn't work out the way they were planned I'm sure you were a bit puzzled and that rubbed off on Dixie.

It seems that when she was added to the rest of the dogs in your household that created imbalance. From Dixie point of view she has taken the role of the mom and leader in the household and whoever is out of line she "disciplines" them by putting them in their place.  It also seems like you are scared of her reaction and avoid doing certain things that will upset Dixie which is not helping the problem.

We have a few recommendations to help this situation and they will all start and end with the one concept of you becoming the alpha and leader of the pack.

  • Out the door - you need to be the first leaving out of the door not any of the other dogs. Open the door slightly just for you to be able to stand in the opening, exercise standing there in front of your dogs while your dogs are still in the house for 1 minute increase by 1 minute daily until your dogs understand and wait patiently for 3 minutes without trying to trip you or escape first. This exercise will be hard to do at first but your dogs will soon learn you are the boss. In time you will be able to open the door wider and wider without them trying to be out of the door first.

  • Walk - do not allow any of your dogs lead you during your walks, traditional dog harnesses encourage the dogs to pull like sled dogs with the back D ring attachment. It is a great idea to invest in a harness that will support the emotional well being of your Frenchie. We offer the best Frenchie Dual D Ring Health Harness that allows a front leash attachment to help pullers and dogs with dominance issues. We also offer satisfaction guarantee so you can purchase with ease. 
  • Feeding - is one of the most important aspect of introducing a dog to the rest of the pack. Dixie will have to re-learn feeding manners and respect the other Frenchies in your household. When feeding the dogs you need to make Dixie wait until all the other dogs are fed in order to create a balanced situation. When starting that for the first few times you will see aggression, it is best to have Dixie nearby and able to see the others are fed before her but not completely in their space in order to keep everyone safe. Slowly start introducing her to the pack and feeding her right before the other dogs finish and work your way up to feeding at the same time. Use treats and toys to distract her away from aggression until she gets her food. If Dixie shows any aggression remove her from the situation and go back to step one of the feeding until she is able to be fed together with the pack without any aggression. If you are unable to do the above method because of lack of time or any other reason we would recommend you feeding Dixie away from the others until this behavior can be corrected. We also highly suggest the following once Dixie is able to be fed at the same time as the other dogs:
  • Create a "ritual" around mealtime - have the food ready in her bowl make Dixie sit and look at you. When making eye contact with Dixie say OK and let her eat. This will ensure no issues will arise in mealtime. Do this with each dog in your household and work your way up to feeding all your dogs harmoniously at the same time.
  • Affection - You can't avoid giving affection - dogs need that to feel safe and secure especially a French Bulldog who is a very emotional and affection driven breed.  Is she treat or toy motivated? Have treats or toys associated with affection. Pet and every time she reacts in a good manner to your hand petting give her a treat or the toy for a few seconds. Work up to her being able to sit on you and reward her. Remember she is a rescue, it is possible that Dixie associated affection with a negative experience in the past. Be patient and never be afraid to give her love. Bonding and affection is a big part of a good relationship with your French Bulldog.
  • Feet attacks - Every time Dixie attacks your feet you have to correct the behavior and let her know she did something wrong such as look into her eyes and firmly say no. Tell her sit or lay down or remove her from the situation and make sure she knows you mean business. Again I believe she associated feet with something negative early on before she even knew you. Put treats nearby your feet so she gets used to being around them without attacking and try to introduce games with your feet such as kicking a ball for her instead of the traditional fetch with hands. Let her lay on your feet (when she gets to that point, which will probably take weeks or months) The point of all the above exercises are to make new memories and associations so she remembers feet in a positive way not negative.


It would also be helpful to work with a trainer specializing in French Bulldogs to build a stronger leadership with your Frenchie. When working with a trainer he/she can see what is triggering Dixie and making her become aggressive at times. You also have to identify what she is doing prior to the episodes in order to address the issue and correct it. We hope the above suggestions make a positive impact in your life, please let us know if you have any more questions. If you are a reader and have dealt with the above issues please share what you have done to correct your French Bulldog's behavior.


Sunny @ Frenchiestore

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