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Bichon frise is a lively, friendly, and adorable companion dog. As such, it’s no surprise that you might be considering adding this white fluffy ball to your home, to your family. That said, one last thing you might be wondering about – especially if you live in an apartment or if your house is very close to another – is whether bichons frises bark a lot.
In this article, I’ll answer this question and explain some of the reasons for which bichons tend to bark. Lastly, I’ll also go through some tips about how to limit this behavior.
Do Bichon Frise Bark More Than Other Dogs?
The bichon frise is usually a quiet breed that doesn’t bark much without reason. However, your bichon may bark more than is typical for the breed. In that case, it can indicate behavioral or health problems. Excessive barking is usually a symptom of a temperament disorder, although it can relate to breeding and environmental factors.
There are several reasons that your Bichon might bark more, and getting to the bottom of the cause is key to addressing the behavior. All in all, a well-adjusted bichon’s temperament should not include obsessive barking.
7 Most Common Reasons Bichon Frises Bark
With that being said, let’s start by looking at the most common causes of barking. Once you know those, you might be able to identify the culprit behind your bichon’s barking and fix that behavior easily.
1. Separation Anxiety
The bichon frise is a companion dog and requires a lot of love and affection. They are also a sensitive breed that adores their owner, so when your bichon has bonded with you, they can experience separation anxiety in your absence.
2. Asking for Attention
This is a learned behavior. Suppose your dog finds that barking won them your attention or a snack to keep them quiet. In that case, they will associate the behavior with getting the reaction that they want from you. Unless one is mindful of this, you could inadvertently be the one teaching your bichon to bark.
Also, there is no doubt that the bichon frise is an intelligent breed of dog. While they are not really dominant dogs, they are masters at getting you to do what they want you to. Perhaps they know just how cute they are because they certainly know how to use expressions and barking to bend their owners to their will.
Similarly to getting your attention, the bichon frise may use barking as a way to indicate what they want. They might bark at the cupboard where you keep their treats. Or they may bark at the door to be let outside. Regardless of the motive, if it worked once, you can be sure they will do it again.
3. Resource Guarding
Dogs sometimes growl when a person or another dog tries to take something that they feel is theirs. If another dog approaches their food or a stranger comes too close to a favorite toy, they may start growling in response. A bichon frise that finds themselves in such a situation commonly resorts to barking as well.
4. Inadequate Socialization
As with any dog breed, inadequate socialization while your dog is still a puppy can lead to behavioral problems. The unsocialized bichon frise may be prone to excessive and hysterical bouts of barking if they see “threats” such as unfamiliar dogs.
Whether they have it in for the cat or seem to have a feud with the neighbor’s collie, you can be sure that poorly socialized bichons will bark up a storm to respond to anything they don’t like or trust. That said, with the proper training, bichons frises can get along with other dogs as well as cats.
5. Territorial Behaviour
Most common in unneutered males, territorial behavior is a behavioral problem that many dog owners face. While it may seem sweet and even comforting that your little ball of fluff wants to protect your property, the behavior is not necessarily healthy.
If your bichon is barking excessively, this may indicate chronic or stress-related fear responses. This behavior is typical in dogs that have suffered trauma and abuse.
It is not always because the bichon has had bad owners, however. As is the case with us humans, traumatic events can and do happen. Often it is challenging to gauge just what might have been a source of trauma for a dog. It could be a violent or otherwise hostile encounter with another dog, or it could be something as simple as moving to a new home.
The bichon frise is a friendly, comical little dog. Bred as companion animals, they love nothing more than playing with their owners. Like most dogs, they may get a bit excited during play and start barking.
How to Stop a Bichon Frise from Barking
Now that you know the main reasons, let’s take a look at what the best ways to get your bichon to bark a little less are. Each of those relates to the reasons presented above in one way or another.
1. Address Separation Anxiety
Addressing separation anxiety in a bichon frise can be particularly challenging. The most important thing is not to make a fuss about leaving or returning. When you return home, ignore your pup for the first few minutes. Doing this will help diffuse the anxiety surrounding the situation.
Use a phrase to let your dog know that you are leaving. When you leave your dog at home, a simple phrase can help ease their anxiety. If you sometimes take your dog along for car rides, it is essential to distinguish the difference between the two events.
Two of the biggest causes of separation anxiety are hyper attachment and a lack of exercise. Making sure your bichon gets more regular exercise will use up the pent-up energy that becomes anxiety. At the same time, you can use place or mat training to create distance between the two of you. This will help your bichon frise become more comfortable with being alone. For more about that, see my article about how to train a bichon frise.
Remember, your bichon does not need to follow you everywhere. It’s essential that they learn how to be okay on their beds, with a chew toy or puzzle toy to keep them busy.
2. Don’t Reinforce Barking Behavior
To address the various ways your dog might use barking to get your attention, you need to avoid reinforcing the behavior by rewarding it with attention or snacks.
However, if they ask for something in a more polite way, such as sitting, be sure to reward them. Remember, in this case, barking is a form of communication, and even if we want to stop them from communicating via barking, they still need a way to “speak” to us.
It also means not reacting negatively. Negative reinforcement is just as counterproductive as giving in, with the added downside that doing so may cause additional problems.
3. Counteract Resource Guarding
If your Bichon is resource guarding food or a high-value item, don’t worry. This is very common, albeit unwanted, behavior. With patience, it’s simply a process of teaching your dog that you won’t take away their food, and your presence is positive.
When they have something they value, such as their food, start building trust by standing at a comfortable distance and tossing treats in their direction. Walk by your dog and don’t stop moving, repeatedly throwing treats. If your bichon stiffens, you are too close. Once you have repeated the exercise a couple of times, check your dog’s body language to see if it has changed.
If they seem relaxed, you may move a little closer. You will need to patiently repeat this over time until your bichon learns that you aren’t going to take away their stuff.
4. The Only Cure for Inadequate Socialization
…is actually socialization. Enroll your dog in a professional socialization program that stands to address the specific problem. Numerous professionals can help steer you in the right direction.
Keep in mind that socialization is an ongoing process. You will need to keep gradually exposing your bichon to new experiences, even when the behavior is no longer present. Again, this has to be gradual so as not to overwhelm them.
5. Limiting Territorial Behavior
There is no quick-fix for territorial behavior. While having your bichon neutered may help, training is usually required to put a stop to it. In this case, it will require a range of different training methods. While ensuring that your dog is well socialized will help, you may need to address a few other behaviors as well.
Obedience training is vital. You will need to train your bichon in effective recall methods and reward them for being calm and quiet. Depending on the severity of the behavior, you may need to ask a professional dog trainer to help you identify training that may help.
6. Overcoming Fear
Many of the same methods that help humans overcome fear work for dogs. Do not encourage the fear or try to “shock” your dog into overcoming it. It is best to slowly expose your dog to the source of their anxiety in a controlled environment. Be patient and supportive, and let your dog overcome their fear at a healthy pace.
7. Limiting Barking to Play
As we’ve mentioned, barking during play is not a behavioral problem. If the barking continues after play, it can quickly become one, though. It is essential that you stop entertaining barking after play and even outright ignoring your bichon until they give it a rest.
The Bichon Frise is not a breed predisposed to excessive barking. If they bark more than is typical, it most likely suggests an underlying problem. By identifying the reason for your dog’s barking, you can help them by addressing the root of the problem.
Reinforcement, both positive and negative, will likely only make the situation worse.