How to Potty Train a Bichon Frise

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How to Potty Train a Bichon FriseSmall, affectionate, and intelligent, bichons frises are quick learners and eager to please their owners, making them a breeze to train. However, their diminutive size means that they have tiny bladders and might not be able to hold their pee for too long. They also have relatively high metabolisms and may need frequent potty breaks.

Potty training is a must-do for every dog to ensure a clean home and a sane owner. Read on for some tips on potty training your bichon frise.

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Are Bichons Frises Difficult to Potty Train?

Bichons frises are intelligent dogs that can learn things quickly. They are also sensitive dogs that respond well to positive reinforcement methods and will not do well with harsh corrections.

Stay Away From Corrections

Like most dogs, bichons frises don’t respond well to unfair, inconsistent corrections or worse, a punishment. A wrongly-timed correction or one that doesn’t fall in line with the rest of the training regimen can confuse your bichon.

Bichons are sensitive dogs, and a harsh correction can cause insecurity and even fear, which can lead to aggression problems down the road.

Remember, Consistency Is Key!

All dogs, regardless of breed, learn things at a different rate. With patience and consistency, most bichons frises can be potty trained relatively easily. The key is to start early, be consistent with your commands and rewards, remain patient, and never ever get mad if an accident happens, and they will!

Bichons frises are also small enough that you might be able to get away with using puppy pee pads or even litter boxes if you are unable to take your dog outdoors regularly.

Pee pads might be a good start to potty training as you can monitor them more closely indoors, and direct them to the pee pads much quicker than you can take them outside, especially if you are living in an apartment and “going outside” isn’t as easy as opening the door.

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Bichon Frise?

It takes a minimum of two weeks to potty train a bichon frise pup, but the more realistic average is four to eight weeks. Adult bichons frises will be easier to train, as they have bigger bladders and can hold their pee much longer.

When Do Bichon Frise Pups Need Potty Breaks?

Small pups under the age of 4 months are unlikely to hold their pee throughout the night, needing potty breaks every 3 to 4 hours or so. Pups from 4 months to 6 months might be able to hold their pee for about 4 to 6 hours, and those older than 6 months might be able to last through the night.

When Should You Start Potty Training Your Bichon Frise?

Potty training should begin the moment you take your new pup or dog home. If you’ve brought home a young bichon frise, know that you have a few interrupted nights ahead of you! Young pups cannot hold their pee beyond a few hours and will need to be let out a few times a night to go potty.

What Do You Need To Potty Train A Bichon Frise?

To potty train effectively, you’ll need a few things that will make your life way easier:

  • A crate: Crates are going to be your dog’s best friend and will be an invaluable tool while potty training. If you don’t already crate-train, we definitely recommend you look into it!
  • An odor eliminator: All dogs will pee over their own scent, so when an accident happens once, you can bet it will happen again if you don’t mask the scent!
  • An enzymatic cleaner: Another must-have, these cleaners attack organic waste like pee, poop, and blood, on a cellular level to remove stains and odors.
  • Puppy pee pads: Pads are an easy way to start potty training before transitioning outdoors, as pups can pee more frequently on the pads and you can keep a closer eye on your bichon while he is indoors.
  • Treats, loads of them! You’ll need heaps of treats (you can find my recommendations here) to reward your bichon frise for peeing outdoors or on the pads. Try getting high-quality, low-calorie treats, especially if your dog is a young pup. You don’t want a fat bichon this early on in life!

Bichon Frise Crate

How to Potty Train a Bichon Frise

Now that you have your supplies, potty training can begin in earnest. These steps are for potty training with a crate. If you don’t intend to crate-train, you’ll need some other means to confine your dog like baby gates or a puppy playpen.

Step 1: Introducing The Crate

Introduce your pup to the crate and reward them as they check out their home. Never force a pup into the crate.

Step 2: Getting Pooch in The Crate

Once poochie seems calm and comfortable around the crate, encourage them to enter the crate by a command like a cheery “in you go!” or “inside”. Praise lavishly and give them plenty of attention as they check out their new home. Do not shut the door.

Do this as many times as it takes until your pup is comfortably lying in the crate, calm and relaxed.

Step 3: Getting Pooch To Stay in The Crate

Then, start closing the door for short periods at a time. Keep an eagle eye on your pup and make sure he is still calm and not panicking and wanting to get out. This is where Herculean patience comes in. Don’t rush things, start very slowly, and at the first sign of discomfort or fear from your bichon frise, take several steps back and start at the beginning again.

If your dog feels afraid or traumatized by the crate for any reason, he or she will see the crate as something intimidating, and your training process would have taken a giant setback.

Once your pooch is comfortable sitting in a crate with a shut door, gradually increase the time spent this way, and walking out of sight for about 2 minutes each time, again, gradually lengthening the time.

Repeat this process as many times a day as you can, always slowly increasing the time.

Step 4: Time the Potty Breaks

Now your bichon frise sees the crate as his den, he will not soil his home. By having your puppy in the crate, you can somewhat control when and where he potties. After a few hours, let your pooch out of the crate, and onto his allocated pee spot, whether it is a particular spot in the yard or a puppy pee pad.

Wait till he potties, and then when he does, make a huge scene, like he did the best thing in the world. Treat like crazy, hug, kiss, dance, praise, go over the top!

Step 5: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!

Now that your pooch has successfully peed where he needs to, it’s time for some serious consistency. Accidents will still happen, and it takes heaps of patience and hard work for your pooch to become reliably potty trained. Just keep praising and rewarding each time when the deed is done correctly, and quietly and calmly clean up all accidents.

If you catch your pup peeing indoors, correct with a firm “no”, and take your pooch to the right spot, praising again when he’s done the deed.

Never, ever punish or get mad.

How Will a Bichon Frise Let You Know It Needs to Go Outside?

Your bichon frise will let you know when a potty break is due, but as a general rule, you should take a young pup out every 2 to 4 few hours, an older pup out every 4 to 6 hours, and an adult dog twice a day.

Signs that your bichon might need a potty break include:

  • Whining at the door
  • Scratching at the door of the house or crate
  • Nervous, jittery movements
  • Starting to sniff around like he is looking for something

Mistakes To Avoid While Potty Training Your Bichon Frise

Some mistakes can set you right back to square one or worse, resulting in a fearful, insecure dog. When training dogs, especially dogs as sensitive as the bichon frise, always use positive reinforcement only and leave the stern corrections for well, never!

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when potty training:

  1. Don’t use the crate as a punishment, ever.
  2. Never deliver a correction when an accident has already happened. You can only correct when you catch your bichon in the act and using a firm “no” is enough.
  3. Don’t let your dog out of the crate if he whines or barks to be let out. Just ignore it, and he will likely stop in time.
  4. If your bicohn frise shows signs of separation anxiety like constantly pawing at the crate, barking, or biting the crate, get professional help if you feel you can’t handle it on your own.


A potty-trained bichon frise is a joy to be around. It takes a while to get there, but with some patience, every dog can be potty trained!

In case you are having a hard time, check my article about how to stop a bichon frise from peeing in the house too.

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