Are Bichons Hard To Potty Train?

Bichon Frises are adorable, fluffy little dogs that are well-known for being able to live in all sorts of different homes, including apartments. However, for many people who are considering this breed, an important consideration will be how easy or difficult it is to potty train them.

Are Bichons Hard To Potty Train?

Bichon Frises are moderately difficult to potty train compared to most other breeds. Their small bladders can make it more difficult for them to hold it, but because they are very trainable they will likely have few accidents provided they have access to an appropriate place to go potty.

Whether you’re having trouble potty training or your dog or you’re wondering whether this breed is right for you, this is what you need to know about how to potty train Bichons.

How Difficult are Bichon Frises to Potty Train?

One of the main advantages of the Bichon Frise breed is how little they shed. They’re a good breed for anyone keeping the state of their home in mind when they plan to get a new dog. However, if Bichons are difficult to potty train, it won’t matter very much how little they shed.

There are a few variables that go into how difficult these dogs are likely to be to potty train. Here are some things you may want to consider.

Bladder Size

Bichon Frises are little dogs, which means they have little bladders. Your Bichon Frise will not be able to hold their bladder as long as a larger dog.

This can make it seem that your Bichon Frise is harder to potty train when in fact they just are not physically able to hold it as long as you would like them to. This may be the most common reason for people to think that their Bichon Frise is not well potty-trained.

It’s not that the dog isn’t potty trained, it is simply that they aren’t able to hold their bladder as long as an owner expects. This is especially true if a new Bichon owner is used to larger dogs.

Bichon puppies may only be able to hold their bladder for 20 minutes or half an hour. Even adult Bichons often can’t hold their bladder for more than about six hours. If you need to leave your Bichon Frise alone for longer, it may be best to train them to use a litter box, rather than expecting them to hold it.


Bichon Frises are typically quite easy to train, provided they are properly motivated. These are very intelligent little dogs who enjoy learning new things and working with their owners towards new goals.

However, these are not dogs that are so anxious to please you that they will do so even without much motivation. Bichon Frises need reasons to do what you’re asking them to do. If they find going to the bathroom on the floor to be easy and convenient but waiting for you to let them out to be frustrating and challenging, there’s a good chance that they will choose the easier option.

To effectively potty train your Bichon, you will need to find ways to motivate them to want to go potty when you want them to. Most Bichons are quite food motivated, so you will likely find that you have success in potty training your Bichon Frise if you use tasty food rewards every time they go outside.

Even after your Bichon Frise is reliably going outside on command, it’s a good idea to periodically give them a high-value reward so that they are constantly anticipating the possibility of something great happening when they go potty outside like you want them to.

Health Concerns

Like many small breed dogs, Bichon Frise can be prone to urinary tract infections and bladder stones. Urinary tract infections and bladder stones can both cause your Bichon Frise to lose their potty training.

If your Bichon Frise has previously had good potty habits and nothing seems to have changed but they are suddenly having accidents inside, the first thing to do is have your veterinarian check for a urinary tract infection or bladder stones.

Dogs that have urinary tract infections or bladder stones typically pee more often. Dogs with UTIs usually have urine that has a strong odor. However, not every dog will show these signs, so if your Bichon is difficult to potty train or if their potty training habits have gotten worse, have your veterinarian check for these health concerns before you worry about changing your training.

How To Potty Train Your Bichon Frise

Potty train your Bichon Frise from the time that they are young puppies for success in a dog with good potty habits. Here is what to do to make sure that you are giving your Bichon Frise the tools they need to have good potty habits.

  • Take them out frequently. Bichon Frise puppies will only be able to hold their bladder for about half an hour to 20 minutes. To teach them that it is appropriate to go outside and not inside you need to take them out every 20 minutes or half hour. This way, your puppy will conceptualize that they ought to go potty outside every time and begin to develop appropriate instincts.
  • Reward generously. Bichon Frises learn best when they are well-motivated. Every time that your Bichon Frise goes potty, they should think of it as cashing in for precious rewards. Not only will your Bichon Frise not go potty inside, but they will be excited to go potty outside. Over time, this excitement will build until your Bichon Frise is unwilling to ever take a chance on losing out on their reward by going inside. This is one of the best ways to help your Bichon Frise conceptualize going potty outside in a way that will lead to consistent potty training habits.
  • Never punish. Bichon Frise are very sensitive dogs who are closely keyed into their owner’s emotions and reactions. They are also clever enough to try to outsmart you given the opportunity. A Bichon who is punished for going potty inside won’t learn not to go potty inside, but they will learn to hide it from you. A dog that tries to hide their potty habits is much harder to train than one that doesn’t. Furthermore, breaking the trust with your Bichon Frise by punishing them for going potty inside makes it more likely that they won’t trust you for other things in the future. It can be frustrating to train a Bichon, but it is essential that you are patient and don’t lose your temper. In many cases, it only takes losing your temper once to affect how your dog views you for life.

What if Your Older Bichon Frise is Having Potty Accidents?

If your older Bichon Frise is suddenly having potty accidents and your vet has ruled out a urinary tract infection or bladder stones, you may be dealing with age-related incontinence.

Not every aging Bichon will have this problem, but it is a common issue for any breed. In a dog with a small bladder that tends to live long lives, like the Bichon, there’s a better chance that your dog will become incontinent they still have a high quality of life. Here are some tips to help you deal with an incontinent older Bichon.

Are Bichons Hard To Potty Train?

Paper or litter box training

Many people choose to potty train their Bichon Frise using a litter box from the beginning. This is much more convenient for many people than trying to take out their Bichon frequently enough to avoid having accidents in the house. Even if your Bichon has gone outside all their life, you may find it easy to paper train them now.

As long as your Bichon Frise still has a desire and ability to avoid going in their living area and has some control over their bladder, you should be able to give them the option of going on a pad instead.

It is much easier to clean up a pad than it is to clean up wherever your Bichon happens to go. You can also be comforted knowing that your Bichon is not in discomfort or even pain from having to wait too long.

Wrap or Diapers

As your dog gets older, they may become even less able to control their bladder. At this time, you may want to switch to wraps or diapers. These tools allow your dog to move around your house freely without you having to worry about urine dribbling through the house.

Enjoy Potty Training Your Bichon

Most Bichon Frises take willingly to potty training provided they are given sufficient motivation, ample opportunities to go potty, and they don’t have any underlying medical concerns.

It can take some patience, especially at the beginning, but Bichons are smart dogs who want to please you. With practice, tasty rewards, and if they aren’t asked to hold it for too long, your Bichon will likely have few accidents.