I frequently get calls from people looking for an adult, housebroken dog. I wish I could accommodate these people but it's rare I have an adult for sale. There are rescue groups that place older dogs but they usually have larger dogs, and many of them are there because they are not housebroken. Rescue groups rarely have Bichons, Teddy Bears or a Bichon-Poo that needs a home.
The reason that these breeds never end up in rescue is because they are usually kept by very devoted owners and they are such wonderful dogs that in the tragic event a person cannot keep a Bichon or Bichon-Poo, there is always a family member, good friend or neighbor that is anxious to take the dog. These breeds, if healthy and properly bred, almost never end up in rescue.
In an effort to accommodate the people who feel they are not good at house training or don't have time to raise a young puppy, I often select certain puppies for them with good temperament that seem to be highly trainable. The breed or sex is never a consideration. Bichon males usually train faster than females but it is not an absolute. The puppy must be people oriented and make good eye contact.
I will begin house training and general socialization at 10 weeks and work with them until they are 4 to 6 months old. These older puppies then have a good start with their training, but are still young enough to bond quickly with their new owner and easily adapt to a new environment. I do this to make it easier for the prospective owner.
I don't take this task lightly, it is a lot of work and very time consuming. The reason I do this is to feel confident that when a puppy leaves me the new owner will not be stressed out by dealing with an 8 week old baby who cries all night and can't even start serious training for another month. I usually paper train first.
Here is my reasoning, Bichons, Bichon-Poo, Teddy Bears, etc.; are all small, heavily coated dogs, usually under 10 pounds. These dogs can usually be "dual" trained; by that I mean they will potty outside if taken out or will poo on puppy pads when kept inside. When dealing with small, full coated dogs it is sometimes a hassle for the owner to have to go outside in the pouring rain at 10:30 at night for a Bichon to make a pee the size of a quarter. To make matters worse, many small dogs don't even like to step on the grass if it's wet, Actually, many of mine won't walk off the patio onto the wet grass even in the morning when it's just wet from dew.
All of my adult dogs are "dual" paper and outside trained. I keep a "Pooch Pad" (Poochpad.com) by the back door and if I'm in the shower, on the phone or otherwise occupied, any one of my numerous dogs, or older puppies, can and will use the pad by the back door if need be.
When people come to me for a teenager, or older puppy, I explain in detail how I set up the training scenario so that they may continue keeping the puppy in a set up they are familiar with as to not undo the training they have already received.
The second reason the older puppy makes sense is that dogs, like children, need to be socialized with their peers so they learn how to "work and play well with others." Puppies have the same learning curve as kids. It is advantages for the young puppy to spend the primary imprint period, 12 to 16 weeks, with the adult dogs and their littermates so they learn to be dogs. There are valuable lessons the mother must teach the puppies during this time period. For instance, an older puppy, having been kept with the litter longer, is less likely to bite on your fingers than a baby removed from the litter at 8 weeks. The baby has no way of knowing he is hurting you as he only has his teeth to grip with. The older pup has already been punished by the adult dogs and litter mates for biting too hard. When he bit too hard on another puppy's ear or body, they have growled and snapped at him for hurting them.
I, as the breeder, also have the opportunity to observe each puppy and learn which puppies have the more dominant personalities and which are more submissive. I get to see which are more aggressive over food or toys. I see which are more timid and shy about new experiences. One of the most noticeable is which puppies are more vocal (bark more), a consideration that may be important to people in an apartment. All of these observations make it possible for me to assist in helping the prospective owner to choose a temperament which more closely matches their personality and lifestyle.