How to Train a Bichon Frise to Stop Biting

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How to Train a Bichon Frise to Stop BitingThe bichon frise is a small dog breed with a jolly and friendly character. It is a popular show dog that doubles as a companionable four-legged friend. But every now and again, something may go wrong and your bichon may begin biting. This is usually a distressing situation.

Do Bichon Frises Bite a Lot?

The bichon frise is not prone to biting unless they are puppies and play-biting. That said, a bichon frise that feels threatened, frightened, or in pain may bite. Dogs can also begin resource guarding at any stage in their life and may start acting aggressively toward anybody who comes near their food, favorite person, or other high-value items.

A senior bichon, particularly one suffering from any health problems like “doggy dementia”, might be confused, in pain, or more inclined to bite. Sometimes, health conditions such as hypothyroidism or hidden pain can also be the problem.

4 Common Reasons Bichons Frise Bite

Before we get into how to stop your bichon frise from biting, let’s go into details on the main reasons they tend to do so.

1. Feeling Threatened

Fear is a common cause of dog bites. A dog that feels threatened has two options available to it. Unfortunately, these happen to be the same two options that are commonplace in instinctive behavior: fight or flight. The bichon frise is not particularly predisposed to an aggressive response to fear, but they may still bite when they feel threatened. In this case, it is difficult to fault the dog for its response, but you must mitigate the behavior.

Anxious biting, or fear aggression, can be triggered by many different things. A bichon could be afraid of strange dogs who come close or of a child that is very loud and excited. In fact, anxiety is one of the leading causes of biting.

2. Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is a natural and common canine behavior. That said, just because it is natural does not make it a wanted behavior. Generally, a dog will guard a resource by growling, snapping, and even biting to warn people and other animals.

The ‘resource’ could be just about anything. Commonly it will be food but it can just as easily be a toy or favorite spot.

3. Territorial Behavior

This is another common reason that dogs bite, and the bichon frise is no different. Just like any dog, the bichon may want to protect its territory from intruders. Many bichons also become hyper attached to their owners, and sometimes this causes them to feel anxious or threatened about other dogs or people coming near to them.

This can cause aggressive behavior.

4. Pain or Health Issues

For dogs, biting is a common reaction to pain. It is especially true when the pain is sudden. Quite often, this is the cause behind dogs biting children. They may accidentally hurt the dog, and the reaction to the pain is an aggressive bite. Similarly, diets high in antioxidants have helped curb behavioral problems, so a poor diet is sometimes a contributing factor.

Health problems that affect hormone regulation like thyroid issues have also been known to cause aggression.

How to Train a Bichon Frise to Stop Biting

While you can take measures to help reduce the likelihood of biting, you should consult with a veterinarian first to rule out any health issues that may be causing the problem.

#1: Early Socialization and Training

Socialization is the most important step in preventing biting. It is best to start around three months. The process of socialization is essentially that of teaching a dog ‘doggy manners’. It will learn healthy ways to interact with other dogs and new people.

Part of socialization is asking people to come around to your house and to teach your bichon to accept this. This will prevent territorial behavior.

#2: Early Play

Puppy biting is natural, so be patient. Remember the words: stop, distract, and channel. This means:

  • Stop the behavior with a loud noise like a yelp or a firm “No.” Stay calm. Do not wave your hands around or do anything to encourage your puppy to chase.
  • Distract with a new toy or activity.
  • Channel their behavior into the new game or activity so that you give them a different way to interact with you.

You can also give a brief time-out and ignore your puppy for about ten seconds. Afterward, return and again encourage play. The idea is that you are teaching your dog that gentle play continues, but biting stops the game.

#3: Fear Aggression and Resource Guarding Prevention

If your dog is biting out of anxiety, you need to identify the triggers causing the fear.  Never flood your dog with the trigger, as this can only make things worse. Instead, manage their environment to minimize their exposure to the problem. If it is a fear of other dogs, keep them safe and separate from other dogs until they learn coping mechanisms.

Thereafter, it’s best to work with a professional while you desensitize your bichon to the trigger and give them a new way to cope with their feelings.

For instance, a dog that is anxious about losing its food will start resource guarding. Do not confirm their anxiety by sticking your hand in their food bowl and messing with it. Simply get your dog used to the idea that having somebody come near their food bowl is a positive thing. You can start this process by throwing down a treat as you work past your eating dog and walking away casually. Gradually, over time, you can come closer to the food bowl, while rewarding constantly to ease your dog’s anxiety.

Likewise, a bichon that is anxious over other dogs, or territorial, will need to be insulated to allow time to reset, and then very gradually, their trigger should start emerging in the background while they are busy with something positive.

Keep the trigger too far away to engage the fight or flight response, and keep your dog leashed to avoid an accident. As your dog grows more comfortable with the trigger, you can allow it closer, over time, while keeping your dog busy with a fun activity to distract them. Keep sessions short.

Summary

All dogs can resort to biting in the right circumstances. We must learn to identify the problematic behavior, see it for what it is, and recognize its cause. The best cure is prevention and training. Enlisting the aid of a professional dog trainer early on. You can try methods yourself, and there are certain rules you will need to learn to enforce.

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