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Stubborn Bichon Frise: Tips to Potty Train Your Challenging Pup (2024)

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are bichons hard to potty trainLike herding cats, potty training a Bichon can frustrate owners to no end.

As a long-time breeder and trainer, I’ve found patience and persistence are key with these pups.

Set a routine, praise success, and use a crate when you can’t supervise.

With time, even the most stubborn Bichon will learn where to go.

Stay positive – this too shall pass.

Key Takeaways

  • The best age to start potty training a Bichon Frise is around 8 weeks old.
  • Signs that a Bichon Frise is ready for potty training include being able to hold their bladder for longer periods of time, showing signs of needing to go potty, and showing interest in going potty outside.
  • Effective potty training methods for Bichon Frises include positive reinforcement, consistent routines, and confining them when unsupervised.
  • Additional tips for potty training a Bichon Frise include closely monitoring their behavior, gradually allowing more freedom as they get older, using potty bells, rewarding success, and avoiding punishment.

Bichon Frise Breed Overview

Bichon Frise Breed Overview
As you know, Bichons originated from the Canary Islands near Spain and Italy.

They’re small, hypoallergenic dogs weighing 12-18 pounds, standing around 9 to 12 inches tall, with a fluffy white coat.

With their lively and gentle personality, Bichons form strong attachments to their owners which is why they can be challenging to potty train.


Originally from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, the Bichon Frise’s origins may be traced back to Italy before Spanish sailors introduced them to the islands.

With a lifespan of 14-15 years, these pups stay peppy and gentle.

Requiring moderate exercise and extensive grooming, the Bichon bonds deeply with its family.

This breed remains playful and charming, though training a stubborn streak takes patience.

Physical Traits

Two notable physical traits of the Bichon Frise are their soft, curly, all-white coat and their small size.


  • They are hypoallergenic, making them a good choice for people with allergies.
  • They are small and easy to handle, making them a good choice for apartment living.
  • They are friendly and playful, making them great companions for families with children.
  • They are easy to train, making them a good choice for first-time dog owners.


  • They can be stubborn at times.
  • They need to be brushed regularly to keep their coat from becoming matted.
  • They can be prone to barking.

Overall, the Bichon Frise is a great dog for people who are looking for a small, friendly, and playful companion.


Bichon Frises are peppy and personable dogs that form strong attachments to their preferred pet parent. They’re playful, affectionate, intelligent, loyal, and protective. However, they can also be prone to separation anxiety and stubborn behavior.

This can make potty training a challenge for some Bichons. Understanding their personality traits is crucial in developing effective housebreaking strategies for these lovable but sometimes difficult pups.

Why Bichons Are Challenging to Potty Train

Why Bichons Are Challenging to Potty Train
Bichon Frises can be challenging to potty train due to a few key factors.

Firstly, they’ve small bladders and need to urinate more frequently than larger breeds.

Additionally, Bichons tend to retain their puppy-like behaviors and stubbornness for longer periods of time, making it harder for them to grasp the concept of potty training.

Lastly, their tendency towards anxiety can further complicate the process as they may become too anxious or clingy during training sessions.

Small Bladders

Having small bladders means needing to take your Bichon Frise out every 20-30 minutes.

Confine the pup when you can’t supervise to avoid indoor puddles.

Consider using potty pads or a litter box in an accessible area during the training phase.

If you have a yard, install a doggie door for access. Otherwise, potty bells by the door are extremely useful for signaling bathroom needs on cue.

Stay positive through accidents.

Stay Puppy-Like Longer

With a Bichon’s tendency to retain puppyish characteristics longer than larger breeds, you’re dealing with a dog that may not be easy to potty train.

Bichons stay playful and energetic well into adulthood, making it harder for them to focus during training.

Their smaller bladders also mean more frequent accidents.

Be prepared that housebreaking could take longer due to their energetic, distractible puppy nature persisting as they mature.

Consistency and patience are key when potty training this breed.

Stubborn and Anxious

However, Bichon Frises can also be stubborn and prone to anxiety, making potty training even more difficult.

You’ll need to be extremely patient with your pup if he seems hesitant to obey commands or has separation issues.

Try techniques like crate training, housebreaking schedules, leash training for walks, and positive reinforcement with treats to teach basic commands.

Remaining calm and consistent will help ease anxiety.

Start Training Early and Be Consistent

Start Training Early and Be Consistent
As your adorable Bichon puppy begins exploring its new home, it’s crucial to start potty training early, ideally as soon as you bring them home.

Begin crate training right away to help establish a routine and reinforce good potty habits through positive reinforcement like praise and treats when they go outside.

Consider paper training if you can’t monitor them, so accidents on the floor are avoided. Remember, they’re still puppies gaining bladder control. Don’t get angry, just immediately take them outside after an accident – they’ll connect going potty with being outside.

Be consistent and stick to a firm schedule of taking them out every couple hours. Increase time between as they age and gain control. Patience and persistence are key during this crucial training period.

Stay focused on praising them for going potty outside rather than scolding accidents inside.

Give Positive Reinforcement

Give Positive Reinforcement
Tips to Potty Train Your Challenging Pup’:

Reward your Bichon Frise with treats and praise when they successfully go potty outside.

Immediately after your pup finishes going to the bathroom outside where they should, enthusiastically praise them and give them a small treat. This positive reinforcement helps solidify the behavior you want. Be sure to reward every time they go potty in the right spot, not just some of the time, or your Bichon may get confused.

You can also try clicker training paired with treats. The clicking sound marks exactly when your dog does what you want, helping reinforce timing.

Consistency with rewards is key during potty training. Set up a routine for taking your Bichon outside frequently and continue to praise and give treats every time they go in the appropriate spot. Over time, your pup will learn that going potty outside leads to attention, affection, and treats while indoor accidents do not.

Pair praise and rewards with patience, and your stubborn Bichon will eventually catch on. The more positive associations they build with going potty in the right place, the quicker the training will go.

Monitor Behavior Closely

Monitor Behavior Closely
You’ll need to watch your Bichon’s behavior closely to identify patterns and prevent accidents.

  1. Look for signs that your puppy needs to go potty like restlessness, sniffing, and circling.
  2. Pay attention to what times of day accidents happen to eliminate triggers like too much freedom or waiting too long between potty breaks.
  3. Reward your Bichon immediately with praise and treats whenever they successfully potties outside to reinforce the behavior.
  4. Use crate training when you can’t actively supervise to help establish a regular potty routine.

Closely monitoring your challenging Bichon puppy is key. You can’t correct problem behaviors like accidents inside if you don’t see what’s causing them. Identifying triggers and patterns allows you to set up a consistent schedule of trips outside, confinement when alone, and rewards for desired behaviors.

This constant supervision in the early training stages helps ingrain good habits. Stay patient – your vigilance now prevents years of stubborn potty training struggles.

Confine Your Bichon When Unsupervised

Confine Your Bichon When Unsupervised
One essential technique is to confine your Bichon Frise to a small, defined area like a crate or exercise pen when you’re unable to directly supervise him.

Area Type Pros Cons
Crate Familiar, den-like, easy to clean Can feel confined
Playpen More space to play Harder to clean
Baby Gate Allows access to some rooms Can jump over
Exercise Pen Customizable space Need room for one

Using a crate or X-pen limits access until fully housebroken. Be sure to provide potty breaks every few hours and give praise and treats for going outside. Confinement teaches bladder control and proper elimination habits. Never use crates for punishment—make them cozy dens.

Rotate playpens and gates to provide variety while preventing wandering that leads to accidents.

The goal is setting your Bichon up for success until he can roam freely without mistakes.

Gradually Allow More Freedom

Gradually Allow More Freedom
As your Bichon demonstrates consistent bladder control, you can slowly allow him more access throughout your home.

Start by keeping doors closed to areas like bedrooms and allow access to only one room at a time. Supervise closely and continue taking your pup out frequently. If accidents still occur, go back to restricting access.

When your Bichon goes a full week with no accidents, try allowing access to more areas while supervising.

  1. Limit access again if accidents happen
  2. Reward successes with treats and praise
  3. Watch for signs they need to go out

With patience and positive reinforcement, your Bichon will learn the appropriate places to relieve himself. Stick to a routine, use his crate when you can’t watch him, and avoid giving too much freedom too fast.

Consistency and small steps will lead to better bladder control. Accidents will delay the process, so vigilance is key during this transitional period.

Try Using Potty Bells

Try Using Potty Bells
As your Bichon Frise puppy gradually earns more freedom in the home, consider trying potty bells to reinforce appropriate potty times.

Purchase a set of inexpensive jingle bells and securely fasten them to the bottom corner of the door your pup uses when going out to eliminate.

With tasty treats, actively train your puppy to nudge the bells using their nose or paw, making them ring.

Once they understand how to ring the bells deliberately, begin rewarding your Bichon only when they ring the bells immediately prior to being taken outside to potty.

Over time, inherently reward the action by promptly opening the door when those bells sound off.

Eventually, your perceptive pup will independently ring the bells when needing to eliminate without any prompting from you!

Once your Bichon Frise has fully mastered ringing the bells to go out and reliably potties outdoors, feel free to remove the training bells so they don’t become a nuisance.

Be Extremely Patient and Stay Positive

Be Extremely Patient and Stay Positive
Stay patient and positive while potty training your stubborn Bichon Frise. It may take some time, but with consistency and a positive attitude, you can successfully train your pup to go potty in the appropriate place.

Here are four important tips to help you through this process:

  1. Reward success:

    When your Bichon Frise goes potty in the right spot, be sure to reward them with praise, treats, or their favorite toy. Positive reinforcement will encourage them to repeat this behavior.

  2. Don’t punish:

    Punishing your dog for accidents or mistakes during the training process will only confuse and frighten them. Instead of punishing bad behavior, focus on rewarding good behavior.

    3.Be consistent:

    Consistency is key when it comes to potty training any dog breed. Establish a routine for taking your Bichon outside at regular intervals throughout the day and stick to it consistently.

    4.Be patient:

    Puppies learn at different rates; some may catch on quickly while others may take longer.Your patience is essential during this process.Don’t give up if progress seems slow – remember that every small step towards success should be celebrated!

Consider an Online Training Course

Consider an Online Training Course
If you’re struggling to potty train your stubborn Bichon Frise, it might be worth considering enrolling in an online training course.

These courses can provide step-by-step guidance and expert advice specifically tailored to the unique challenges of potty training a Bichon Frise.

They can help you understand your pup’s behavior better and offer effective strategies for successful housebreaking.

So, if traditional methods haven’t been working for your challenging pup, exploring an online training course may be a valuable option to consider.

When To Enroll

If you’re struggling to potty train your stubborn Bichon Frise and need some extra guidance, it may be time to consider enrolling in an online training course.

These courses can be helpful both for puppies who are still learning and for adult dogs with a persistent problem.

Whether your Bichon is before or after 6 months old, an online training course can provide you with the tools and techniques needed to successfully potty train your challenging pup.

How Courses Help

You’ll find that online dog training courses provide customized guidance tailored to your Bichon Frise’s specific behaviors and challenges.

Reputable programs use videos, detailed lessons, and personalized feedback to teach you proven techniques for potty training even the most stubborn pup.

Following structured courses helps establish consistency, saves time researching methods, and equips you with the skills needed to understand your Bichon’s signals and motivate positive habits.

Review costs, curriculum, and past client reviews when selecting a program that best fits your needs.

Choosing A Program

Some of the programs you’d want to consider for a stubborn Bichon include those that:

Focus on:

  • Cost.
  • Effectiveness based on reviews.
  • Guarantees demonstrating confidence.
  • Convenience fitting your lifestyle.

When selecting a customized online potty training program for your Bichon.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long should I expect potty training my Bichon to take?

Most Bichons will be reliably house trained by 5-6 months old with consistent training.

Be patient, take them out frequently, praise and reward successes, and use crates/confinement when you can’t actively supervise.

Progress happens, so stick with it.

What are some signs my Bichon needs to go potty?

To know when your Bichon needs to go potty, watch for signs like:

  • Sniffing
  • Circling
  • Restlessness

These are nature’s cues that it’s time for a bathroom break. Stay vigilant and respond promptly to prevent accidents.

Should I use puppy pads or take my Bichon outside?

I would recommend taking your Bichon outside consistently rather than relying on pads.

Being consistent about taking them out at regular intervals and praising them when they go potty outside is key for housebreaking.

Consider pads a backup option during times you simply can’t take them out.

How often should I take my Bichon Frise outside when potty training?

Take your Bichon Frise puppy outside to potty every 20-30 minutes initially.

As they develop bladder control, gradually increase the time between potty breaks to 1-2 hours.

Supervise closely and watch for signals they need to go out.

With consistency, your Bichon will soon learn to ask when they need to potty.

What should I do if my Bichon has an accident inside?

If your Bichon Frise has an accident inside, stay calm and clean it up without scolding them. Punishment only leads to fear and confusion. Focus on reinforcing good potty habits instead.


As Bichons are innately social creatures who aim to please, have faith your furry friend will come to understand the potty rules with time.

Though accidents may litter the path behind, keep your eyes fixed ahead, praising each success like a monumental victory.

For one day soon, your Bichon will proudly ring the bell by the door, having traded stubborn rebellion for harmonious routine through your patient persistence.

The small seeds of progress you plant today will bloom into a beautiful companionship built on mutual understanding and respect.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.