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Brain Games for Bichon Frise: (Smart, Healthy, Entertained)

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The Bichon Frise has to be one of the world's cutest little canine cuddle bugs. But your little puffball has a lot more to offer than just his fabulous looks and sloppy kisses!

The Bichon breed can trace its early family history back to a highly intelligent French water dog called the Barbet.

Like their ancestors, Bichons are super smart and curious pups.

Those inherited brains were put to good use when the breed became popular in Europe in the 19th century.

Bichons were the chosen dogs of street performers and organ grinders on the streets of Paris.

The adorable snow-white dogs soon won the hearts of spectators, and their owners found them very quick and easy to train.

A favorite routine involved the Bichon Frise ‘walking' on its back legs and begging the crowd for money.

It's not a surprise that our modern-day Bichon pet dogs love being the center of attention. They are all too aware of their innate star quality!

Why brain games are good for your Bichon Frise

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So we know that your little teddy bear of a dog is a smart cookie. Now we need to make sure his brain gets a good workout!

The naturally curious Bichon can get up to all sorts of mischief if he gets bored when you are not around.

Even worse, an under-stimulated Bichon Frise may suffer from problems like separation anxiety.

Physical exercise can help alleviate separation anxiety, but mental exercise is also great for this. J

Just like in humans, a mental workout uses up your dog’s energy reserves.

You'll find a Bichon who's had a fun session of brain games, and his daily walkies will be much happier to settle quietly when left alone. He'll probably be dying for a nice long nap!

Training Tips for Bichons

Keep sessions short at first

Learning new things can be exciting but also confusing. Frustration may set in if your pup doesn't pick things up as fast as you'd hoped.

To avoid things ending in a negative way, try to finish training on a high note. If it's all going a bit wrong, you could simply take a time out and go for a pleasant stroll together before trying again.

Keep sessions to a maximum of 3 minutes at first. Later on, you can build this time up as your dog gets used to using his noggin!

Use gentle training methods

Reward-based, positive training methods are especially crucial for the Bichon. These little guys tend to be more gentle and sensitive than some of the burlier, bigger breeds.

Always use a soft but enthusiastic voice when training your Bichon and never shout or get angry. If you feel like you are losing your temper, it's time to stop training and cool down before you try again.

Although smart and naturally curious, Bichons are not the independent sort of dog that will challenge or bully their owner. Your dog will love working with you in a partnership that is fun and rewarding for both of you.

Helpful Online Dog Training Resource:

The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.

Brain training games to play with your Bichon Frise

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Playing with Flirt Pole Toys

Flirt poles, like the Outward Hound Tail Teaser, are a fun way to interact with your dog and give him some exercise even when you are stuck indoors. It's a great toy to have around in the depths of winter, when everyone is going a bit stir-crazy.

Even better, flirt poles come with all sorts of attachments on the end, so you can experiment to see which one your pup loves chasing the most! Is he a squirrel man? Or perhaps a duck is more his style?

Board Games

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Puzzle games are sure to be a hit with your Bichon. And once your pup has the idea, they are great fun to bring out when the family is watching.

Canine puzzle games usually consist of a board of various-shaped pieces that have to be pawed, nudged by your dog's nose, or lifted with his mouth to reveal a mystery prize… Dog treats!

Nina Ottoson Dog Smart Beginner Puzzle Game is a great puzzle toy to beginners. Simply pop your dog's favorite treat under each box (or smear some peanut butter in the holes).

If your dog finds the game a little tricky at first, you can leave the treat covers slightly off so he can see the treat hiding underneath.

The fun doesn't stop there, though! If your Bichon is a real whizz at puzzle games, there are more advanced games to buy.

The awesomely named Dog Tornado Nina Ottoson Puzzle Game will give smart pups more of a challenge. We are sure your clever little Bichon Frise is up to it!

Bichon tricks to wow the crowds

Bichon Frises are, without doubt, one of the canine world's greatest performers. Get your little man started on his journey to stardom by teaching him some of these fun tricks.

Training should start somewhere with few distractions and ideally with one dog at a time. Once your pup has the trick mastered, you can impress all your little puffball's adoring fans!

Game Name: The Bichon Twirl

Level: Easy

Props needed: Treats

A fun, simple game that's achievable for young or old dogs. Simply slow things down if your dog is in his senior years.

How to play:

  1. Choose a direction to go in first (either clockwise or anti-clockwise) and a cue word for each direction. (E.g. Spin for clockwise and Twirl for anti-clockwise).
  2. Hold a favorite treat in your hand and gently guide your dog's nose in a wide circle (his head and body will follow!)
  3. Keep your hand low, near to your dog's head, and reward even a small movement in the right direction.
  4. Gradually increase the amount of circle and once he's completed a full twirl, use your cue word in a clear, enthusiastic voice – TWIRL!
  5. As he gets the hang of the trick, you can raise your hand a little higher as you make the circle movement.
  6. Once he's fully got the idea, you should be able to say ‘TWIRL' and just give a quick hand gesture, such as drawing a circle in the air with your index finger.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your dog, you should take a look at Brain Training for Dogs by Andrienne Farricelli (professional CPDT-KA certified dog trainer).

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Game Name: The Hula Hoop Hop

Level: Medium difficulty

Props needed: 1 or 2 small hula hoops, treats or a toy, carpeted floor or large rug

The Hula Hoop Hop is a fantastic game for younger adult dogs with lots of energy to burn. And if your dog takes a shine to leaping through hoops who knows, it could be the beginning of a successful career in dog agility!

How to play:

  1. Start by resting the hoop on the ground. Encourage your dog to walk through by holding a treat on the opposite side. As he does so give him lots of praise and reward him with the treat.
  2. Next time, hold the hoop a short distance from the ground and repeat the lure with the treat to encourage your dog to hop over. Don't go too high too quickly as it may intimidate your pup.
  3. Once he seems confident at a low height, you can work on raising the hoop a little higher.
  4. If your dog is enjoying himself, you can make the trick extra exciting by asking someone else to hold a second hoop and asking him to hop through both to get to his reward.

Game Name: Shy Doggy

Level: Medium difficulty

Props needed: Treats and some small, regular post-it notes (do not use strong sticky tape)

Shy Doggy is a super cute game that is perfect for older and less active dogs but works equally well for all ages. Your goal is to train your dog to raise his paw and hide his face. It should look like he is having a bashful moment!

How to play:

  1. Ask your little guy to sit in front of you. If you don't have a reliable sit trained already, you'll need to go back to basics and teach that first.
  2. Gently press a small strip of a post-it note so it sticks to the top of your dog's nose.
  3. Your dog will quickly notice the bit of paper and try to brush it off with his paw. As he brings his front leg up to his nose, give him some quick praise and a treat as a reward.
  4. Repeat a couple of times and start to use your cue word. It could be ‘SHY' or anything you like as long as it is short, and you keep it consistent.
  5. You can start making the post-it note piece smaller each time your dog does the trick. After a while, he should begin to perform the ‘SHY' paw movement in response to just your cue word.

Solo Games

There are tons of fun toys out there specially designed to entertain your pup while he's on his own. As a breed prone to separation anxiety, finding ways to help your Bichon Frise cope with alone time is really important.

These toys should be safe to leave with your dog unsupervised. To be on the safe side though, we recommend you stay around to watch your Bichon the first few times he plays with them.

How do they work? The idea is that the delicious snacks inside the toys will so entrance your pup he will barely notice that he is alone in the house.

Classic Kong Toys

The classic Kong toy is a real godsend for pet parents! Made from virtually indestructible rubber, the central hole of the kong can be filled with all sorts of tasty treats and then frozen to create a long-lasting delicacy for your dog.

If you have some wet dog food or even better, pure peanut butter, try smearing this on the inside and sticking a few treats or biscuits in with it. Most dogs go nuts for peanut butter!

Treat or Kibble Dispenser Toys

Treat dispenser toys are a fantastic way to keep your pet occupied when you're away from home. Toys like the popular Star Mark Bob-a-lot encourage lots of interaction from your dog.

You'll find that your Bichon quickly figures out exactly how to bat the ball to make the treats or kibble inside come flying out.

Weight Loss Tip! These toys are an excellent way to sneakily reduce the amount of kibble your dog eats if he's on a diet. He'll also get lots of exercise knocking the Bob-a-lot around the house, so it's a win-win!

Photo of Bichon Frise in Grass | Dog Temperament
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