The bichon frise is a quiet breed, so obsessive barking usually indicates an underlying problem, such as small dog syndrome. If you excessively baby this fluffy little breed, you pay the consequence of creating an out-of-control yapper. You induced your dog's behavior, but you can also stop it.
Stop picking up your bichon. Your bichon starts frantically barking and you run over to pick him up. If you pick your dog up when he starts barking, you're rewarding the behavior, which guarantees more barking in the future. If you're petting him when you pick him up, you're showering him with rewards for an unacceptable behavior. Even if your bichon is scratching at your feet to be picked up, ignore him. Only reward him for good, quiet behaviors. The bichon frise is going to love you whether he's cuddled in your arms or walking beside your feet.
Ignore your dog if he starts barking. Note that also includes not yelling at your bichon if he barks. “Be quiet!” sounds like “Ruff ruff ruff!” to your dog. He doesn't know your language and he thinks you're barking, too. In your dog's mind, if you're barking, there must be a reason to continue barking. Instead of barking with your dog, turn your back to him and walk away. If he stops barking, turn around and reward him by petting him or giving him a treat.
Teach the “Speak!” command followed by the “Quiet!” command. Say “Speak!” and have someone provoke the barking by knocking on the door. As soon as he starts barking, hold the treat in front of his nose. He will stop barking to sniff the treat, then say “Speak!” one time. Give him the treat when he barks. Once he barks on command, tell your Bichon to “Speak!” As soon as he starts barking, say “Quiet!” and place a treat in front of his nose. Give the treat as soon as he stops barking.
- Give extra tasty treats when your bichon is quiet. Liver, cooked chicken pieces or cut-up hot dogs are excellent treats for training your pooch to quiet down.
- Only allow your dog on the couch if he is quiet. This establishes you, not the bichon, as being the pack leader. Another way to take charge and become the pack leader is to feed him after you finish your meal.
- If your dog is home alone frequently and barks from boredom, getting another pet to keep your dog company or hiring a dog sitter are options.
- Never physically punish your bichon frise for barking since your bichon could become fearful of you and develop aggressive behaviors.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.