One of the most desirable qualities in a Bichon is the beautiful temperament. To quote from the AKC Standard: “Gentle mannered, sensitive, playful and affectionate. A cheerful attitude is the hallmark of the breed and one should settle for nothing less.” The show breeder expects from birth for each pup to have the potential to be a big winner in the ring and works from the beginning to enhance the basic sound temperament bred into the pup. The pups are handled gently, kept warm, fed well and socialized, beginning at a very young age. Even with the best of care, some pups will have a “soft” temperament and may not have the enthusiastic attitude to make a good show prospect. This is one of the reasons for placing some beautiful Bichon pups in pet homes instead of show homes. Lucky is the new owner who has gotten one of these lovable and playful puppies. They make exceptional pets and have had the advantage of good early care by the breeder. Although nature plays a part in developing a wonderful Bichon, nurture plays the dominating role.
To encourage the great qualities of the Bichon and to have a wonderful member of the family, enroll your pup in puppy kindergarten class (a type of obedience training for puppies). This should be a class that uses positive reinforcement training methods. The basis for this training is that the pup is praised, possibly given a small treat and given positive attention for good behavior and punishment is never part of the training. Pups benefit from socialization, which is simply exposing the puppy to many types of situations in a positive way. Read the article Creating a Puppy you can Live With for more information. If your puppy is biting your hand or nipping at your clothes, a firm NO is called for. Now do something to distract the puppy, such as giving him a toy to play with. Once the pup has behaved in a more desirable way, you can tell him what a “Good boy” he is. Most important is never to pick the pup up and cuddle him while he is behaving badly. This only says to him that his behavior is desirable and gets him attention–not a lesson that you are trying to teach. Some of this biting behavior may come from painful teething but you still must not tolerate it.
Separation is the name of the problem that occurs when your dog absolutely cannot tolerate having no one at home with him. Any Bichon should be able to be alone for a few hours at a time, though many do not handle being alone all day long. The Bichon is bred to be a companion animal and expecting him to live alone is not recognizing this innate part of his nature. If your Bichon develops separation anxiety, contact a local trainer to work with you and your Bichon.
Remember that it is the nature of this breed to be a wonderful and loving companion to his family and his basic instinct is to be your very best friend. These tips will help you develop your Bichon into a sweet tempered little companion.