If you're interested in the Bichon Frise breed, you may be worried that, because she's a small dog, she may also be a yappy one.
The good news is that Bichon Frises are not typically barkers by nature.
This breed is a rather quiet one, however, as with all breeds, there are some exceptions out there.
After all, the Bichon Frise temperament can be feisty at times.
For instance, if you have a Bichon puppy who likes to bark, you will need to nip that in the bud while she's still young.
Bichon Frise Barking and Howling:
This is because this breed can develop Small Dog Syndrome if you leave excessive Bichon barking unchecked.
Bichon Frise puppy barking can be a good thing if your dog is alerting you to a potential threat. But sometimes there is no threat, and they just don't know when to stop.
This is why it is important to figure out why your Bichon is barking before you attempt to correct her.
If you happen to be one of those lucky owners who ended up with a rare Bichon Frise barker, read on to learn more about what you can do.
How to Stop the Rare Bichon Frise Barker
Raising a dog is very similar to raising a child. (There's a good reason why childless couples adopt a dog for parenting practice!)
For instance, if you yell at a dog to stop doing something, it will stop the dog for the short-term, but it does not work long-term.
In other words, if you yell at your Bichon to “shut up!” when she stops barking, she may very well feel startled and will “shut up.”
However, this will only last for a couple of seconds before she realizes you're barking along with her! Then, she'll keep on barking.
As tempting as it may be, don't yell at your Bichon to stop barking. Instead, try one of the below methods to see if one of these works for you.
Just like with children, when you pay attention to Bichon Frise behavior problems, she'll just keep at it.
The most effective way to get her to stop is to simply ignore her when she's trying to get your goat.
The reason why even negative attention works is because her bad behavior got you to pay attention to her.
And when you're dealing with a breed like the Bichon, who thrives on your attention, you need to ensure you're only giving it to her when she's earned it.
Instead of disciplining your Bichon for excessive barking, you'll want to use reverse psychology here and reward her when she stops.
Eventually, she'll understand that when she finally shuts her trap, she earns a treat!
Slowly lengthen the amount of time she needs to be quiet before you give her a treat.
In doing so, she will learn that you will pay her no mind when she barks for no reason, but you will reward her when she behaves herself and closes her mouth.
You can actually use this method of training for a variety of unwanted behaviors with the Bichon.
Train Your Bichon to be Quiet on Command
You should be able to train your Bichon so that when you firmly say “Quiet!” she buttons up.
Nevertheless, you have to crawl before you can walk, and so you first need to teach her to “speak,” or bark on command.
Speaking on Command
You may want to refer to the American Kennel Club (AKC)‘s four-step training regimen, outlined below, to train your Bichon to “speak”:
- Find an object that excites your Bichon to the point of barking.
- Get her to bark by waving it around. If you don't have one of these objects, you can go outside and knock on the door or ring the doorbell – these triggers are sure to work.
- As soon as she barks, reward her with praise and/or a treat.
- When she masters doing this consistently, either use a verbal or hand signal command to get her to “speak”.
Quieting on Command
Once your Bichon learns how to speak, or turn it on, then it’s time to train her to be quiet or turn it off.
Repeat this technique, only this time say “quiet” after she speaks, then reward her when she listens.
The timing here is everything. Do not reward her until she’s finished “speaking” – after all, she might have a lot to say!
Once she masters this, gradually increase the amount of time she must remain quiet to earn her reward.
The True Test
When your Bichon is consistently quieting down on command, you can test her reserve by commanding her to remain quiet in situations that may distract her.
A good time to try is when a lot of activity is happening at home that may excite her.
Once she masters this, you can try commanding her to “quiet!” from another room.
This will give you the power to quiet her down even if you're in another room.
Helpful Online Dog Training Resource:
The practice of desensitization is effective in helping your Bichon stop barking whenever someone comes to the door.
You can train your Bichon Frise to stop barking upon hearing the doorbell or a knock at the door.
First, go outside and ring the doorbell, leaving your Bichon inside the house. Ring it repeatedly, with a short pause between rings.
Your Bichon will bark, of course, but as you continue ringing, her barking will decrease in intensity.
Stretch out the pauses between rings until she eventually stops barking entirely.
Repeat this every day for as long as it takes for your Bichon to learn that she should ignore the doorbell when it rings.
Once your Bichon has mastered ignoring the doorbell, your next move is to have other people repeat this process. They can be your family members, neighbors – whoever lives close by and can regularly help.
The trick here is, do not let your Bichon see you (or your helpers) come through the same door.
Use another door to get back into the house, else you will teach her that it's also fine to ignore whoever comes strolling into her house.
This is fine, of course, if it's just you. This is not fine, however, if the person coming through your door is an intruder.
The name for this training technique is “flooding,” and you can use it in a variety of situations. From fireworks to thunderstorms, you can help your Bichon overcome anything with enough exposure to it.
However (and this is a big however), experts do not recommend using flooding if your dog is terrified of a certain stimulus, like thunderstorms.
Discomfort is one thing. Trauma is another. Ultimately, only you know how much your dog can handle, and so you should accommodate your training methods accordingly.
You can also use desensitization with visual triggers, e.g., if you want to stop your Bichon from barking at a passerby at the dog park.
Here, treats are most effective at helping your Bichon reprogram her response.
As soon as you see the passerby, but before your Bichon does and starts to bark, start giving your Bichon treats.
When the passerby—i.e. the trigger—is close, keep feeding your Bichon treats. Once the passerby has passed, cease with the treats.
Eventually, your Bichon will learn to associate the visual trigger, in this case, the passerby, with positive reinforcement (the treats). The passerby will therefore no longer serve as a barking trigger.
Teach Your Bichon “Go to Your Place”
Another recommended “training Bichon Frise not to bark” method is to train her to do something else when she wants to bark.
For instance, you can train her to “go to her place.” To do this, first set up a mat in the corner of the room, if she doesn't already have “a spot.”
Then, interest her in one of her toys, coating or filling it with peanut butter if you have to.
Take the treat from her and toss it onto the mat while saying “go to your place.”
(For additional motivation, hide some smaller treats under the mat.)
Once she masters this, break out the command the next time someone knocks at the door. Tell her to “go to your place” before you answer the door.
Once she's mastered that, you can start phasing out the treats. By this point, your Bichon should be associating her mat with positivity and going to it willingly.
She will also come to understand that visitors at the door equals treats – a good thing undeserving of barks.
Tire Your Bichon Out
What about when you're not home? How do you stop your Bichon from barking then?
If possible, tire your Bichon out with exercise before you have to leave. A tired Bichon is less likely to bark due to boredom or loneliness.
In fact, you should have a good and consistent exercise regimen to keep her satisfied inasmuch as insufficient exercise can cause a host of behavioral problems.
Bichons in particular love to run around the yard or a daily walk around the neighborhood. A half-hour of either activity should be sufficient.
If you work during the day, you might even consider hiring a dog walker to take her out.
You can also leave the radio or TV on when you're gone, whatever she’s used to hearing when you're home.
This should help ease the loneliness of a quiet house.
In some cases, you may need to resort to a collar specifically designed to combat barking. There are four types of these kinds of collars out there.
Spray collars release a citronella-scented spray into your Bichon's face when she barks.
While these are often effective, they can also backfire.
Some dogs learn to tolerate the smell and bark anyway.
Ultrasonic collars emit an ultrasonic tone that humans can’t hear but dogs can.
These collars tend to be rather effective.
Vibration collars send out vibrations to stop the dog from barking.
These are a little harder to find, inasmuch as they are not as popular as the other collars out there.
Static Shock Collars
Static shock collars send out a mild electric shock with each bark.
These collars, while effective, are also controversial inasmuch as some argue they are inhumane.
You can adjust the intensity of the shock delivered. In many cases, a dog only needs a minimal shock – just enough to startle them but not hurt them.
Manufacturers of these collars recommend you test the minimal setting on your own wrist first to ease your concerns.
For some dogs, the minimal shock may not be enough. If this is the case, then you'll want to refrain from using a shock collar to prevent causing the dog harm.
Further, shock collars can cause some dogs to develop aggression or withdraw from you entirely. This could have a permanent negative impact on your bond with your dog.
You should always treat shock collars as a last resort.
Ultrasonic barking deterrents are another form of bark control.
These work similarly to the ultrasonic collars by emitting a high-frequency sound, only without the collar. Instead, you use a remote to control the tone the device emits every time your Bichon barks.
And hey, if the problem isn't your dog but your neighbor's, you can invest in a long-range ultrasonic barking deterrent.
The range for these devices is usually around 50 feet. Simply hang it from a nearby tree, and enjoy the silence!
Barking Correction Apps
In today's world, of course, there's a smartphone app for barking!
Some apps mimic a dog whistle to get the dog to stop barking by emitting a high-frequency noise similar to that emitted by ultrasonic collars.
Others connect to a camera you set up in your home so you can correct your Bichon Frise's behavior problems even while you're not home.
These apps aren't foolproof, and everyone's experience with them is different.
But they're inexpensive, so why not give them a shot and see how they work for you and your Bichon?
Consider Getting a Second Dog
Getting a second dog can brighten up your lonely dog's life.
However, you must be sure your budget can handle the expenses associated with owning two dogs.
And remember, your first dog can teach your second dog bad habits, and then you'll have not one but two barkers on your hands!