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How much exercise does a bichon frise need? It’s a common question among first-time bichon parents. In fact, it’s not only common but also extremely important. After all, if your bichon frise doesn’t get enough exercise, it will suffer behavioral and health problems.
With that, let’s get to it.
How Much Exercise Does a Bichon Frise Need?
The amount of exercise a bichon frise needs depends on their age. Furthermore, every dog is an individual, and the amount of exercise they need can vary. In addition, some bichons frises respond better to different types of exercise. With all these factors in mind, the best way to approach the question is to break it down into subsections for different ages.
Then we can consider the different kinds of exercise that a bichon might enjoy.
Bichon Frise Puppy
Bichon frise puppies should not walk as exercise until they have had all their vaccinations. That works well for their age, as pups should only start any extended exercise, like walks, after about 8 to 12 weeks old. The consensus is that a puppy should get about five minutes of structured exercise daily for every month of their life. So a two-month-old puppy could go for a 10-minute walk daily.
But, remember, rigid numbers like that are just a guideline.
It’s also important to differentiate between structured and unstructured exercises. In unstructured exercise, a dog is playing and will rest when they are tired. In structured exercise, like walking or jogging on a leash, you are controlling how much the dog is exercising and at what pace.
For puppies, most exercise should be unstructured playtime, and structured exercise like walks on a leash or a sport like agility should be more incorporated as they become adults.
At around 6 to 12 weeks, or when they receive their last puppy vaccination, you can start considering a formal exercise routine for your bichon frise puppy. The generally recommended approach would start off with a short walk. Don’t expect your pup to make the distance in their first week. Rather, only walk as far as you feel comfortable with, keeping an eye on your pup for signs that they are tuckered.
Adult Bichon Frise
When it comes to their daily exercise, a bichon frise needs no more than a half an hour’s walk. That said, some bichons can go a bit further, especially if you break their daily walk up into two fifteen-minute walks. Bichons frises are not the world’s most active breed. Historically bred as lap dogs, these little balls of fluff were never meant for any kind of hard labor. So naturally, this impacted how active the bichon frise is overall.
This is about the point where a seasoned bichon frise owner will point out how energetic they can get. But, of course, we aren’t saying they don’t have sudden bursts of energy. On the contrary, it is common for a bichon frise to go from zero to a hundred in a split second, but they run out of steam just as fast.
If your bichon frise is in training or participates in other physical activity, remember to take that into account before trying to push them to have a half-hour walk.
Senior Bichon Frise
As your bichon frise enters their senior years, their health will inform how much exercise they need. Furthermore, every bichon is unique in their aging and how capable they are in their golden years.
In general, a bichon begins to slow down between 5 and 7 years old. That said, it is a gradual process for most bichons, with them getting tired a little earlier into a walk and spending more time sleeping at home.
To help your bichon frise stay fit well into their senior year, break their daily walk into two or three shorter walks spread evenly throughout the day. Aging dogs mustn’t over-exert themself, so keep an eye on their behavior for signs that they are tired from the walk.
As your bichon ages, you might also want to begin to switch to more swimming for short sessions to keep the pressure off its joints.
4 Ways to Have Your Bichon Frise Exercise
What are the best ways for your bichon frise to get their daily exercise? It can depend on their energy level, health, and age. Let us look at the three best ways for your little dog to exercise depending on its individual needs.
Like all dogs, the bichon frise experiences the world through smell more than any other sense. Therefore, going on a walk presents your pup with a treasure trove of information. For example, they can pick up scents that other dogs have left to communicate, or they might get a whiff of a new cat in the neighborhood.
For more details, read my article about walking a bichon frise.
Bichons frises are very intelligent dogs. They excel at learning tricks, and they are very receptive to commands from their owners. So naturally, that makes them ideal show dogs and capable of pretty advanced training.
In moderation, training can be very rewarding for both dog and owner. Furthermore, it offers plenty of opportunities for you and your bichon frise to strengthen your bond. You may even learn more about each other in the process. In addition to its other benefits, training helps your bichon frise learn discipline and restraint. It also helps them build confidence and offers all the mental stimulation they could ask for.
For more information, read my article about how to train a bichon frise.
Play is the easiest and most convenient way to meet your bichon frise’s exercise requirements. In addition, it is sometimes the best option for a bichon with health concerns that impact their movement.
Teaching a bichon to fetch a ball is fantastic cardio, while learning to tug on a tug toy can help develop strength.
To facilitate play, you might want to get some toys for your bichon frise as soon as possible.
Provided it is done safely under supervision, and your bichon is kitted with a doggy life jacket, swimming is a great way to exercise your bichon. Since it is intensive exercise, they do not need to do it for more than a few minutes at a time.
Getting your bichon puppy used to swimming can help them when they are older to be comfortable in the water.
I wrote in more detail about whether or not bichons frises like water and swimming here.
2 Risks of Your Bichon Frise Not Exercising Enough
There are a lot of health problems that are either caused by or made worse when a dog doesn’t get enough exercise. The various health risks fall into two categories:
1. Physical Health
Your bichon frise’s physical health will begin to deteriorate if they aren’t active enough. Blood circulation, muscle mass, heart health, and more depend on sufficient exercise. Furthermore, problems like obesity due to lack of exercise often cascade into many other, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
For example, an obese dog is at a higher risk of developing diabetes, and diabetes increases its risk of chronic inflammation. In turn, inflammation increases a bichon frise’s risk of getting cancer.
Exercise is just as important to your bichon frise’s mental health as it is to their physical health. Without enough exercise and stimulation, a dog’s pent-up energy goes one of two ways.
A dog that isn’t getting enough exercise will often become destructive. Unfortunately, your couches are in for it, and pillows are doomed when this happens. In fact, separation anxiety, which is common in the bichon frise, is directly linked to a lack of exercise.
A destructive dog is a menace, and as with their physical health, things can easily spiral out of control. Unfortunately, these negative behaviors are met with an equally negative response from the dog’s owner. The problem is self-evident from our perspective, but in that situation, an owner might not realize that their bichon is acting up because they need more exercise.
The bichon frise’s owner may turn to discipline and inadvertently negatively reinforce the behavior in response. Sadly, these things often end with the dog in a shelter without intervention.
Like all dogs, the bichon frise needs enough exercise to stay healthy and happy. The exact amount of exercise depends on the bichon’s age and health and their individual needs. There are a couple of ways that a bichon frise can get all the exercise they need.
Of course, walking is the most popular method, but training and play are great options for a bichon too. You might even consider teaching your bichon frise to jump.