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9 Essential Tips for Managing Bichon Frise Separation Anxiety In 2023

Is your Bichon Frise becoming a barking, whining mess every time you grab your keys to head out the door? 

Does your normally sweet canine companion chew up your favorite pair of shoes or scratch at the door in desperation whenever left home alone?

If so, your furry friend may be suffering from separation anxiety – a common issue for Bichons prone to forming tight bonds with their owners.

But don’t despair.

With some diligence, patience, and the right training techniques, you can help your anxious Bichon learn to feel calm and secure when solo. In this article, we’ll explore 9 essential tips to manage Bichon Frise separation anxiety effectively in 2023.

As a pet researcher with over 15 years of studying and writing about dog training and anxiety issues, I’ve helped countless Bichon owners tame separation stress and form even stronger connections with their pups. 

By following these proven methods, you’ll be able to provide the care your Bichon needs while maintaining your busy lifestyle. With a multifaceted approach focused on prevention, management, training, and meeting your dog’s needs, you can transform alone time into peaceful time for both you and your four-legged friend.

Start Early to Prevent Separation Distress in Your Bichon Pup

Bringing home a Bichon Frise puppy is so exciting! But it’s crucial to begin separation training early to prevent intense anxiety when you leave. Starting at 8-10 weeks old, practice very short solo sessions of 30 seconds and gradually build up from there. Come and go without fanfare. You want your pup to learn that you’ll always return.

Separation Training Schedule for Bichon Puppy

Age RangeTips & Actions
8 – 12 weeks– Crate train using positive reinforcement<br>- Feed meals in crate<br>- Place tempting chews/toys in crate only
3 – 6 months– Practice brief alone times starting with 30 secs building up to 20 mins <br>- Vary routine so pup learns to adapt <br>- Use food puzzles and stuffed Kongs to associate alone time with good things
6 – 18 months– Build alone time up to 1-3 hours <br>- Incorporate exercise, play, training before leaving <br>- Leave a worn t-shirt or blanket for comfort <br>- Give access to safe puppy-proofed room or pen
1 – 2 years– Can be left 4+ hours if accustomed <br>- Reinforce training with sitter or daycare 1-2x a week <br>- Set up camera to check on progress

Make sure to actively socialize your puppy too. Expose them to new sights, sounds, smells and experiences in a positive way. Well-socialized Bichon pups gain confidence and are less prone to separation fears. Take them on outings to parks, stores that allow dogs, and puppy play groups.

If your pup does seem stressed when alone, stay calm and don’t punish them. That can make matters worse. Try distracting them with a puzzle toy stuffed with treats, like this snuffle mat that challenges their brain. Keep sessions short and sweet. With patience and consistency, you can prevent separation woes.

The key is starting early and making alone time fun and non-stressful. Lay the right foundation, and you’ll raise a happy, independent Bichon!

Stick to a Predictable Routine to Ease Your Bichon’s Separation Anxiety

Bichon Frises are creatures of habit who feel most secure with consistency. By sticking to a predictable daily routine, you can help reduce your Bichon’s stress when left alone.

Try to schedule feedings, potty breaks, walks, playtime, and any training at around the same time each day. Giving your dog a sense of structure will build confidence. Before leaving, run through your normal departure cues like grabbing keys, putting on shoes, and giving a goodbye pat. This ritual helps signal to your Bichon that you’ll be back later.

It’s also important not to make too big of a deal when you return. Stick to low-key hellos. You want to reinforce that people leaving and coming back is no big deal. Keep things calm, consistent and predictable.

While all pups still need exercise and stimulation, resisting abrupt routine changes can keep anxious behaviors at bay. Consistency, compassion and patience will help your Bichon relax into your absence knowing you’ll always come home.

Provide Plenty of Exercise to Calm Your Anxious Bichon Before Leaving

Getting your Bichon’s energy out before you go can make a big difference in reducing separation stress. Bichons are active, playful dogs who can become restless or anxious when pent-up.

Aim to exercise your dog for at least 30-60 minutes daily through activities like brisk walks, playing fetch, or allowing off-leash running time at a dog park. Work that body and mind! Then, right before you leave, engage them in 5-10 minutes of training review or indoor play.

A tired Bichon is a calm Bichon. With their physical and mental needs met through adequate exercise beforehand, your dog will be more likely to settle down and relax when left alone at home.

Just be cautious overdoing exercise with puppies under 18 months as their joints are still developing. Also avoid intense exercise right before crating, as they may get riled up. But otherwise, a good romp will help your anxious Bichon release pent-up energy so they can destress when solo.

Creative Exercise for Puppies:

  • Puppy push-pull (gently drag toys on floor for them to chase)
  • Slow stair climbing
  • Low impact fetch, catching, or tug games
  • Sniffing and treat scavenger hunts
  • Introduction to puppy agility or obstacle courses
  • Brief and gentle play with other vaccinated puppies

With age-appropriate activities that stimulate their mind and body, you can help your Bichon puppy get the exercise they need without overexertion.

Create a Calm Space for Your Bichon to Feel Safe When Home Alone

Bichons that struggle with separation anxiety often benefit from having a designated space just for them when you have to leave the house. This area should be calming, comfortable, and filled with familiar scents and toys.

A crate or small room works well to become your Bichon’s safe zone. Place their bed and favorite chew toys inside, along with an unwashed article of your clothing. Your scent helps soothe your pup, reminding them of your companionship even when you’re away. Some owners find music or TV provides additional comfort.

Teach your Bichon over time to view their space as a positive retreat, giving treats and praise for voluntarily resting there. Never use the area for punishment or force them inside if they resist. With patience, your pup will learn to relax in their home base when you can’t be there.

Having a consistent, relaxing place just for your Bichon decreases stress triggers when alone. Soon those anxious barks and whines when you leave may be replaced with your dog snuggling calmly in their safe space waiting for your return.

Try Anxiety-Soothing Products for Your Stressed Bichon Frise

Bichons who experience intense distress when left alone may benefit from specialized products designed to have a calming effect. While not mandatory, these can take the edge off separation anxiety symptoms.

  • Anxiety Vests/Wraps – these apply gentle pressure that can soothe an anxious Bichon. Popular brands like ThunderShirt are designed for dog anxiety relief.
  • Pheromone diffusers – these release synthesized dog pheromones that mimic nursing mother dogs to induce calmness. Adaptil and Comfort Zone are reputable options.
  • Dog-appealing music – specialized music composed to relax anxious canines with things like reggae or soft piano. Through a Dog’s Ear is a good choice.
  • Interactive puzzle toys – keeping your Bichon’s mind engaged can reduce stress. Rotating various interactive puzzles and treat dispensing toys provides mental stimulation.
  • Calming supplements – with your vet’s approval, chews like Zylkene or medications can aid anxiety management short-term. Use cautiously.
  • Essential oil diffusers – oils like lavender and chamomile can promote relaxation in some dogs when diffused into the air. Ensure oils are pet-safe.

Experiment to see what helps best for your unique Bichon. And be sure to introduce any new products gradually so they don’t become a stressor. With the right tools, you can help your anxious pup stay comforted and engaged when you have to leave them home alone.

Consult a Dog Behaviorist if Your Bichon’s Separation Anxiety Persists

If your beloved Bichon Frise continues to show signs of distress when left alone despite your best training efforts, it may be time to seek professional help. A certified dog behaviorist has the skills to evaluate your unique situation and design a customized behavior modification plan.

Unlike a regular dog trainer, a qualified behaviorist has advanced education in dog psychology, learning theory, and behavior problems. They can pinpoint the root causes of your Bichon’s lingering separation issues through consultations and observational sessions.

Effective treatments may include:

  • Systematic desensitization to departures and alone time
  • Counterconditioning with positive reinforcement
  • Management between sessions with enrichment toys, pheromones, etc.
  • Medications in extreme cases if prescribed by your veterinarian
  • Troubleshooting setbacks compassionately

Working collaboratively with a behaviorist gives you the best chance of teaching your anxious Bichon how to cope when you must leave them home alone. With a professional’s guidance, most dogs with separation distress can learn to feel comfortable by themselves.

Don’t wait to get help if your Bichon’s anxiety persists despite your efforts. A qualified behavior expert can improve quality of life for both you and your distraught dog.

Prevent Bichon Frise Separation Anxiety by Adopting Another Dog

While some one-on-one training and attention is still required, adopting another dog can help relieve separation anxiety in Bichons prone to distress when alone. As naturally social creatures, having a canine companion provides comfort and security.

Consider pairing your anxious Bichon with another friendly, well-adjusted dog. Shelters can help match a suitable temperament. A younger dog often works best, looking to the Bichon as a mentor.

Introduce new dogs carefully, keeping early interactions positive and low-stress. Have separated crating and feeding areas as they initially adjust. Signs of tension may indicate poor pairing.

Monitor closely and go slow with increasing alone time. Separation training will still be needed, along with individual walks and play. But an additional dog provides a bonding outlet and distraction when you must leave your Bichon home alone.

While not a complete cure, doggy company can certainly help minimize an anxious Bichon’s barking, pacing, destruction and other stress behaviors triggered by isolation. Just be sure you can handle the responsibility of multiple pets before adopting. But for many, a canine companion eases separation woes.

Use Gradual Departure Training to Help Your Bichon Gain Confidence  

One effective training technique to reduce separation anxiety is to institute brief, gradual departures that systematically get your Bichon used to being alone. This method can help ease their distress.

Start with very short departures of just 15-30 seconds. Grab your keys, put on your shoes, and step outside the entry door, then immediately return. Provide praise and a treat if your Bichon remains calm. 

Slowly increase the duration of your departures, adding just a few seconds each session. Work up to being able to leave for several minutes at a time over a period of weeks or months. Vary your routine so it’s not always the same cues. 

Continue the training during short solo periods throughout the day, like taking out the garbage or checking the mail. The goal is to countercondition your Bichon to associate being left alone with good things happening when you return.

With gradual, structured training, you can teach your anxious dog to have more confidence in your return. Done consistently and positively, departures shift from terrifying to routine for a Bichon prone to separation stress.

Ask Your Vet About Anti-Anxiety Medication for Your Bichon

In severe cases of separation anxiety where behavior training alone has not worked, your veterinarian may recommend prescription anti-anxiety medication as an adjunct treatment. Used cautiously, this can help take the edge off while your Bichon learns to cope alone.

Medications like Clomicalm and fluoxetine are FDA-approved for canine anxiety issues. They work by boosting mood-calming neurotransmitters in the brain. The goal is to reduce your Bichon’s panic response when left solo.

Keep in mind medication is not a cure and should be combined with behavior training. Work closely with your vet on dosage, timing, and potential side effects. Wean your anxious Bichon off the meds once their separation anxiety is under control.

While no owner wants to medicate their dog long-term, short-term use of anxiety medication under veterinary guidance can provide much-needed relief. Along with training, it can help your Bichon gain confidence and independence when home alone.

With your vet overseeing use carefully, anti-anxiety meds can be a helpful piece of a multifaceted approach to ease separation distress. For hard cases unresponsive to other methods, they offer one more compassionate option.


At what age do Bichon Frises start developing separation anxiety?

It varies, but separation anxiety can begin as early as 8-10 weeks when a Bichon is first separated from littermates and brought home. Early socialization and short solo training periods can help prevent full-blown separation anxiety in these sensitive puppies.

How can I ease my anxious Bichon’s distress when I leave?

Try giving your Bichon a puzzle toy stuffed with treats, turning on calming music, or applying a Thundershirt before departures. Leaving a worn t-shirt with your scent can also comfort a Bichon when left home alone. Sticking to predictable routines is key too.

Should I comfort my Bichon Frise when I return from being out?

No, it’s best to ignore stressful departure and return behaviors. Remain calm and unfazed, not giving comfort or reassurance if your Bichon is anxious. This helps teach them that your absences are no big deal.

Would another dog help my Bichon’s separation issues?

It can help! Many anxious Bichons take comfort in having a canine companion. Adopting a second friendly, well-adjusted dog provides security. But each dog still needs individual attention and training.

When should I seek professional help for my Bichon’s separation distress?

If your Bichon’s anxiety persists after diligent effort on your part, seek help from a certified dog behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist. They can design a customized training and treatment plan to meet your Bichon’s needs. Don’t delay getting expert assistance.


In conclusion, managing Bichon Frise separation anxiety in 2023 is a multifaceted task that requires diligence, patience, and a keen understanding of your dog’s temperament. As many dog owners of this breed know, Bichon Frises are social creatures prone to separation anxiety. However, with the right approach, you can help your Bichon Frise learn to feel calm and secure when left alone for long periods of time.

Training your Bichon Frise to handle being alone is crucial. Start early, ideally when your Bichon is still a puppy, to prevent the development of separation anxiety. Gradual departure training can help your Bichon gain confidence and understand that you will always return. Remember, every Bichon is different, and what works for one may not work for another.

Creating a calm space for your Bichon to feel safe when home alone can also be beneficial. This could be a kennel, a small room, or a section of the house. Fill this space with familiar scents and toys to help soothe your Bichon’s anxiety.

If your Bichon Frise’s separation anxiety persists despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional. A certified dog behaviorist can provide a customized behavior modification plan to help your Bichon cope with stressful situations.In some cases, adopting another dog can help ease your Bichon’s distress when you leave.

Bichon Frises are companion dogs by nature, and having another friendly, well-adjusted dog around can provide a sense of security. However, it’s important to remember that each dog still needs individual attention and training.

Lastly, if your Bichon Frise’s separation anxiety is severe, consult your vet about the possibility of anti-anxiety medication. While medication should not be the first line of defense, it can provide much-needed relief for some dogs.

Remember, as a Bichon Frise owner, your goal is to help your dog feel safe and secure, whether you’re at home or away. With proper training, patience, and a little help from professionals if needed, you can help your Bichon overcome separation anxiety and live a happy, stress-free life.

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