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Is your bichon frise a “Velcro dog?” If you have a dog that wants to be with you all the time, you may be the proud owner of a needy dog.
In the following sections, we examine what it means that a dog is needy, whether bichons are clingy, and what you can do – if anything – if it’s too problematic for you.
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What Does It Mean for a Dog to Be Needy?
Some dogs, particularly bichons frises, tend to be categorized as “needy.” In simple terms, pretty much any dog may be “needy” sometimes (which is perfectly normal), but some dogs may be needy all the time, so that it becomes annoying and difficult to handle (and you need to know how to deal with it).
It’s important to notice that lap dogs like bichons frises are specially bred to be “attached” to their owner’s side all the time. However, if your dog is following you everywhere, it starts to become an issue. Sometimes, it may be our own behavior that makes a dog needy.
If your dog is always following you and is always asking for your attention, it may be described as a needy dog. Let’s find out if all bichons frises are naturally needy or if this depends on each pup individually.
Are Bichons Frises Needy?
As briefly mentioned above, bichons frises are bred to be lap dogs, so it’s perfectly normal for your furry friend to want to spend a lot of time with you. This breed is not suitable for pet parents who stay long hours away from home.
That being said, it is not normal for a bichon frise to demand your attention all the time to the point that it bothers you, it is unsafe, or you are unable to do your daily chores.
5 Reasons Bichons Frises Are Needy
Bichons frises were bred to be faithful, loving companions. They rely on you to guide them, offer them attention, and take care of them.
However, your bichon frise should still retain a degree of independence. The needy behavior is often learned and enhanced, but it can be corrected with patience via the correct methods. If your dog follows you everywhere to the point of annoyance, here are some reasons why it behaves like that.
1. Your Behavior Causes the Problem
Probably the most obvious reason why bichons frises are needy is our own behavior. Do you give your dog praise and treats all the time? Does your dog sleep with you in the same bed and follows you to the bathroom?
When you adopt a puppy, you may find it so cute and adorable that you may allow it to do everything it wants, sleep with you, eat with you, and play with you. This way, the dog learns to be dependent on you all the time. It learns it’s good and normal to be close to you, which is not a bad thing if you are okay with it.
2. Your Dog Is Unwell
If your bichon frise suddenly becomes clingy, the reason may be a disease or illness. Just like for humans, being sick is scary and confusing for your furry friend, so your dog may stick to you to reduce stress and cope with the discomfort.
If your dog becomes clingy suddenly, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your vet to make sure there are no medical issues for the change in behavior.
3. You Moved Out or Expanded Your Family
If there has been any big change lately, such as moving into another home or giving birth to a new baby, your bichon frise may become needy because it is stressed. Such big changes and the different environment cause unwanted stress, so the pup clings to you for some comfort.
In this case, it’s best to help the dog adjust to the new environment, play, and go out for the routine walk, and it will eventually adapt to the new environment.
What better thing to do when bored than going to your favorite human and playing? Bored dogs will crave attention since they want something to do – ending up following you everywhere. Thus, a needy behavior could indicate that your dog lacks mental and physical stimulation.
5. Separation Anxiety
Bichons frises are likely to suffer from separation anxiety when they are away from their owners for a long time. This is a trademark of this breed, and people who cannot spend time at home should make sure there’s always someone at home to spend time with the pet.
In some cases, therapy can help dogs with separation anxiety, but you should still not leave your dog at home for many long hours.
4 Things to Do If Your Bichon Frise Is Too Needy
Once you ensure there is no medical condition that causes your pooch to be needy, there are a few things to make your bichon less dependent on you.
1. Find and Stop the Triggers
There’s a chance your dog has learned that every time you get up, you are about to do something interesting, such as giving it a treat, petting, or playing. To make your dog stop following you around all the time, you need to desensitize it to your movements.
In other words, practice getting up for no reason (or do something it is not interested in). The dog may still watch you move around, but it is no longer interested because it knows nothing exciting happens anymore.
Dogs may start acting needy based on various triggers, depending on your behaviors and routine. For instance, some dogs may get overexcited every time their owner puts their shoes on, anticipating a walk. Repeat the action with no consequence (such as putting shoes on, then taking them off, or simply going back to the previous activity) until the dog stops reacting.
If your bichon frise follows you absolutely everywhere, teach them the “stay” command. Start with small distances, then give them the command to stay further and further away. Of course, just like with any other type of training, you should reward your pup very well when it listens to you.
This will teach it that staying (and not following you everywhere) is the desired behavior.
3. Reinforce Independence
To teach your dog to be less dependent on you, try to focus on games where the pup must achieve something on its own. For instance, go for nose work games, or hide and seek, where the pup has fun on its own. This also helps with dogs that are too clingy because they are bored.
Another option to help it be more independent is to set up a private space for your dog. Teach it that it’s its own space (like a dog bed, for instance) and reward your pup when it goes there. Adding some toys (see my recommendations), games, or treats will also make the pup want to stay there rather than follow you everywhere.
It’s recommended to always provide an alternative to your dog when the behavior is undesired. So, for instance, you don’t want your bichon frise to follow you when you are cooking because it may be dangerous. Instead of leading the dog out, give it some toys and teach the dog to stay in its own corner while you’re cooking – ideally, a place where it can keep an eye on you.
4. Do Nothing
Finally, if your bichon frise is needy, but doesn’t bother you much, simply do nothing. In the end, it is up to you if you want to modify the behavior or not. You can choose to intervene only when the Velcro dog behavior may become dangerous (such as when you’re cooking or cleaning).
Also, make sure you don’t reward clingy behaviors with treats, petting, or praise when your dog is needy – unless you want to reinforce the behavior. If every time your dog starts whining it receives praise or a treat, it starts to learn that that behavior will get it what it wants – so your bichon will repeat the behavior every time it wants something from you.
All in all, bichons frises are raised to be close to their human best friends, but this behavior is most likely learned and reinforced. To reduce your bichon’s dependence on you, you need to stop reinforcing the clingy behaviors first.
Then, make sure it gets sufficient mental and physical stimulation – in the end, a tired dog is a happy dog.