Why Do Bichons Whine So Much?


Why Do Bichons Whine So Much?

The Bichon Frise is an adorable, fluffy little dog that is known for being very sensitive and having excellent communication with their people. Unfortunately, some people notice that they can tend to whine a lot. 

Why do Bichons whine so much? Bichons may whine because they want something from you, because they’re fearful or anxious, or because they’re in suspense. To reduce your Bichon’s whining, make sure that they have plenty of activities and chew toys during downtimes, get lots of exercise and engagement with you, and aren’t fearful or anxious of anything.

Whether you have a whiny Bichon Frise or you are considering this breed and want to know how whiny they tend to be, here is everything you need to know about why Bichons whine so much.

Companion Dogs

Throughout their entire history, Bichon Frises have been companion dogs to people. Originally, they were beloved on the islands on which they developed. Sailors were also charmed by these little dogs and took them with them across the world, where they had international appeal. 

Throughout this entire time, one of the attributes that has kept the Bichon Frise so popular is their communicative nature with people. Many Bichon owners say that these dogs seem to be able to read their minds. 

A characteristic that frequently goes along with superb companion dogs who are great communicators is the tendency to vocalize a lot. Vocalizations like barking and whining aren’t at all uncommon in the breed. Your Bichon may be whining to communicate with you or just because they can sense some anxiety coming from you. Many companion dogs like Bichons are prone to this sort of behavior.

They Can Have Their Own Minds

Bichons are well-known for being highly trainable, however, that doesn’t mean that they always want to do what you want them to do. Bichon Frises are frequently as likely to demand something from you as they are to do something for you. 

One way that Bichons may communicate what they want from you is by whining. Without good discipline, the Bichon can be a rather determined and annoying little dog when they want something from you. 

It isn’t at all unusual to see a Bichon whining to get food that their owner has, because they want to go outside and play, etc.

They Might Not Be Getting Enough From You

The Bichon Frise is a relatively low-energy little dog with one of the lowest shed coats in the animal kingdom. This makes them a great choice for all kinds of people, even people who work full-time or live in an apartment. 

However, just because Bichons need relatively little engagement compared to other breeds does not mean that they are satisfied being alone or ignored all of the time. If your Bichon is whining and you can’t tell why, it may be that they simply have more needs and expectations of you.

They May Be Anxious

Whining is a classic sign of anxiety. If your Bichon Frise is whining a lot, particularly in situations that may be stressful for them, such as when new people or dogs are around or when there are transitions happening in the household, it may be that your dog is whining out of anxiety. 

If whining is combined with other signs of anxiety, like shaking and being very clingy with you or other members of the family, it is even more likely that anxiety is at fault.

They May Be In Suspense

Suspense is a very powerful feeling for dogs. Most dogs seem to enjoy moments of suspense before they get something they want even more than getting the reward itself. Dogs enjoy waiting before they are released to chase after a toy, before they get to go outside, and before they get to take that next step on the walk. 

Many dogs respond to the excitement and anxiety of suspense by whining. If your Bichon often whines before or during a walk, on car rides, or at other times when they are expecting something to happen soon, they may be whining because they are in suspense.

What To Do About A Whiny Bichon

If your Bichon Frise is bothering you with their constant whining, you’ll be glad to know that there are things that you can do about it. Bichons are well-equipped to live with people, and with the right handling, training, and socialization, you can expect your Bichon to be quieter very soon.

Never Reward Whining

If your Bichon whines and then gets what they want, they will quickly learn that whining is an effective strategy. Even rewarding your Bichon Frise for whining one time can make a significant difference in how often they will whine to get what they want. 

If someone in your household is rewarding whining, it becomes even more likely that your dog will keep whining. Bichon Frises that are rewarded for whining by going outside, getting food, or in any other way, are likely to keep trying it, even if it only results in success a small percentage of the time. 

In fact, if your Bichon Frise is only periodically rewarded for their whining, they may be even more likely to whine frequently. Dogs internalize and repeat behaviors more readily when rewards only come some of the time, so partially rewarding whining is one of the worst things you can do.

Give Your Dog Entertainment During Downtimes 

Just because Bichon Frises are relatively low-energy dogs that typically do well in an apartment setting doesn’t mean that they can sit around and do nothing all day. These dogs need engagement just like any other breed. There are a number of things that you can do to entertain your dog during downtimes. Here are a few options:

  • Food distributing toys. A food distributing toy like the Kong toy is one of your best options for occupying your dog during downtimes. Chewing on a Kong is naturally soothing, so it can help dogs who are experiencing anxiety.
  • Puzzle games. Puzzle games like hiding a toy or treat are a great way to get your Bichon’s attention off of whining, provide mental engagement, and relieve anxiety all at once. Your Bichon is unlikely to feel stressed while they are working out a challenge.

Find Ways To Reduce Anxiety

Bichon Frises are not typically known to be particularly anxious dogs, but any breed can suffer from anxiety. If providing a food distributing toy has not been sufficient to quell your dog’s anxiety, you can talk to your veterinarian about medications, natural pheromones, or soothing aids like a Thundershirt. Every dog is different, and different anxiety relievers work for different dogs, so keep trying until you find an anxiety soother that stops the whining for your dog. 

Build Ritual

Rituals can be a powerful way to reduce anxiety or suspense. Building rituals into your Bichon’s life enables them to anticipate what’s going to happen next in a predictable way so that they aren’t left wondering and worrying about what’s going to happen. 

Providing exercise, food toys, affection, and other things at about the same time or with the same sort of procedures is a great way to put ritual into your Bichons life. It’s not realistic to always do things at the same time, but you can always do it in the same way. 

Always ask your Bichon Frise to sit and stay before they are leashed to reduce excitement around getting a walk. Ask for a sit and stay before meal times to help your Bichon to be calm before and during eating.

How To Help A Fearful Bichon Frise

In general, Bichon Frises are known for being happy, outgoing, peppy little dogs. However, any dog can be prone to excessive fearfulness. If you have rescued your Bichon Frise from a hoarding situation or puppy mill, it is much more likely that they will be very fearful. Bichons are sensitive dogs and it can take some time for them to come down from trauma. Here are a few ways to help:

  • Give your dog time. Don’t force your Bichon Frise to interact with you or the rest of your family until they have had time to process some of the changes in their lives. Put your Bichon in their own space and use a baby gate to separate them so that they can approach the baby gate to engage with your family on their own terms.
  • Hand feed. Bichon Frises typically love their food, so you can use your Bichon’s daily kibble and treats as a path to their heart. Hand feed your Bichon Frise by tossing kibble to them or feeding directly out of your hand to help them develop trust in you and your family.
  • Train. It may not seem very intuitive to train your Bichon before they trust you, but this is a dog that takes naturally to training and you may find that teaching basic commands can help to build a bond between you. To train a fearful Bichon, mark behavior you like, such as looking at you, with a sound like a clicker and then give a reward.

Enjoy A Whine-Free Bichon Frise

Bichon Frises may be known as fru-fru dogs, but they are typically happy, outgoing, bold little dogs they almost always have a smile on their face. If your Bichon is whining excessively, it is likely due to something in their past experience or current lifestyle. By working with your Bichon Frise to understand the cause of their whining and develop solutions, you can have a whine-free Bichon Frise.

Coral

From the tiniest Chihuahua to the greatest of Danes, I am simply obsessed with dogs. I’ve been working with dogs professionally for nearly a decade. I managed a private dog daycare and worked as a liaison at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital. My experience as the liaison of integrative medicine, neurology, and zoo medicine at UF Small Animal Hospital gave me valuable insight into the challenges faced by pet owners with animals who have medical conditions. My time there also gave me the opportunity to care for a disabled dog and write a book about the experience. As manager of a dog daycare, I learned about how dogs play and interact, warning signs for aggression, and how to rehabilitate dog-reactive dogs. During my time there I was under the mentorship of two groomers, from whom I learned grooming essentials. I currently work with high-risk shelter dogs and manage a blog to help other volunteers and foster families. I have two dogs of my own, a Maltese and a Standard Poodle pup.

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