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Bichon Training Tips


Bichon Training Tips


Bichon Training
Dog Training 

Training a bichon can be quite different from training other species of dogs.  Their combination of social, physical, and personal qualities makes them unique in their needs.  Bichons need to know that you are the leader of the pack, and will not hesitate to fill that void themselves if the opportunity is given to them.  Unfortunately, bichons that are improperly trained or not trained at all tend to develop severe behavior, social, and emotional issues that are the result of them trying to fill the “pack leader” role.  Two major issues that are common among un/under-trained bichons are small dog syndrome and separation anxiety.


Small Dog Syndrome

Small dog syndrome is not a bichon-specific problem, but a problem that can be observed in many breeds of small dog.  It comes about when small dogs assume the role of pack leader, and is generally the result of a lack of training.  Many dogs experiencing small dog syndrome will become excessively aggressive.  They will bark, bite, and guard their food/toys/treats in an aggressive manner.  This is a way of showing dominance and protecting their territory.

The best way to explain how small dog syndrome is developed is through a comparison to a big dog.  Think of this: you are the owner of a Labrador and are having company over.  When your company arrive your Lab runs to the door and excitedly tries to jump on your visitors.  In this case you would be fearful that your larger Lab may hurt (or at least annoy) your guests and would not allow him to jump like this.  You may scold the dog for jumping and make efforts to train him not to do it the next time someone comes to your house.

Now think of the same situation with a small dog, like a bichon.  Most people will think it is cute to see a small dog like this running up to greet guests.  There is a much slighter chance that the dog will be punished for their jumping because no one is going to be hurt by such a small dog jumping on them.

In this scenario the only difference is the size of the dog.  One way that dogs (big or small) show dominance is by jumping like this.  When a large dog jumps on new guests they are essentially saying “This is my territory.  You are on my turf.”  They may be excited and happy, but they are also sending a message with their actions.  Most owners would not allow their large dog to jump on people like this simply because they are so big.  By not allowing it and training for it, the owner is reinforcing the idea that they are the pack leader, not the dog.  Unfortunately, small dogs will begin to believe that they are in charge when they are allowed to jump like this.

This is only one example of how small dog syndrome is developed, but it illustrates the idea very well.  The concept comes down to the different ways in which people train big dogs and small dogs simply because of their size.  One of the best ways to prevent small dog syndrome from occurring is by treating your small dog like a big dog.  If you would not allow a big dog to do it, do not allow your small dog to do it (no matter how cute it is!).  Would you allow your 90 pound Lab to jump up into your lap uninvited?  Probably not.  It is perfectly fine to have your bichon sit in your lap with you, but train them to know that they must be invited first.

It should be noted that many of the situations where you can train to prevent small dog syndrome are going to be reactive and corrective.  This means that you should be on the look-out for behaviors and actions that could be displays of dominance and take steps to correct and train against these in the future.


Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is an issue that is closely related to small dog syndrome.  A dog with small dog syndrome believes that they are the pack leader, and that they are the dominant member of the house.  Because of this, they do not understand how you (one of their followers) can leave them unattended for hours at a time while you are at work or out of the house for other reasons.

During this time spent alone a well house-broken bichon may relieve itself in the house, he may chew anything he can get his teeth on, or he might bark quite loudly and annoy neighbors in hearing range.  These are signs of frustration from a pack leader who feels abandoned by his brood.

Because this is a symptom of small dog syndrome, the best way to confront this issue is through training that reinforces the owners place as the pack leader.  As with the examples above, when training your bichon (or other small dog) it is best to treat them as if they were a bigger dog.  If you would not allow a big dog to do it, do not allow a small dog to do it.  Treating them as a big dog will teach them that many of their displays of dominance are unacceptable, and they will learn to see you as their leader.

Related posts:

Bichon Training

Bichon Information