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Hi I joined the forum back when I had the love of my life Sweetie my poodle bichon mix. Sweetie passed away in June and I just adopted two adult Bichons that were Champion show dogs. I know it's obviously a poodle forum but the people on this forum seem to know their stuff much better than anyone on Bichon forums so I'm hoping someone can help me. The two dogs are female ages 6 and 8. They were both Champion show dogs then after winning the shows they were used as breeder dogs. Apparently the lady is a very well-known reputable Bichon breeder. I don't know if this is normal but these dogs have always lived in a kennel and they don't know how to be dogs. They don't know to pee outside or poop outside. I try to walk them and they don't know how to walk on a leash. One of them wants nothing to do with it the other one only wants to trot if I'm holding the leash up walking a step in front of her like she's in a show. They don't even know to use puppy pads. I'm wondering if someone can give me some pointers of where to even start. I'll admit it's kind of funny watching one of them trot but she just kind of looks at me all confused like what the hell are we doing out here.
 

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More experienced members will respond with more help but the short answer is you train them as if they were puppies. It's going to be harder with two dogs at the same time, however because they are older, their bladders are mature it won't take 6 months like it can with a puppy.

Same with learning to walk on a leash - treat like a puppy.
 

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You train them just as if they were puppies. It certain ways it’s easier than a puppy, because they can hold it a lot longer, but in other ways, it’s trickier.

I trained an 18 months old male who had never been outside in his life, and marked in the house. Your dogs are older but they can learn as well.

Belly bands do help for a male' and you could get female diapers to help with the female. After a while you won’t need them anymore. My dog was so bad that he peed and pooped in his crate at night. I always had big surprises when the morning came, and not pleasant ones...

After 1 year he was 90% reliable and now he is 4 1/2 and he is 100% reliable if you don’t give him bad anxiety by changing his routine (he has an anxiety disorder).

You can do it ! One day at a time ! Merlin’s story is here somewhere, if you care to read it.
 

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BTW, my Babykins was almost a year old when I got her from the professional handler who was getting her ready to be shown in conformation. She was sold as a pet because she grew too tall to be shown as a miniature poodle. She was toilet trained. She wasn't used to walking on a leash to go potty - but she was used to being on a leash in the show ring.

I am surprised that your bichons don't know where to potty. If they were shown in the ring, they must have been potty trained so they wouldn't go to the bathroom in the middle of the conformation ring when being shown. They must have been on a leash in the ring. I'm wondering if they were once trained - maybe you just need to reawaken previous training?
 

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I agree with starting again as if with puppies. For leash training I would play lots of follow the leader games without a leash (treats, toys, silly songs - whatever it takes to make being with you fun), and perhaps try a harness to break the association of the leash with show ring behaviour.

You don't say how well they are settling in otherwise - home life may be a bit overwhelming at first if they have been used to a very dull life, and it may be a good idea to introduce them to the big world gradually. It can take quite a while for dogs to relax enough to begin to show their personalities and to want to play, etc. Perhaps concentrate on toilet training immediately, and think about walks and games when they have been with you a little longer.
 

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Some of mine have been from 8 months to 5 years and true just like you train a puppy, they learn quickly at that age, treats and praise does the trick
 

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I agree with all the advise to train the way you train a puppy, but also will reemphasize fjm's very good point that a rehomed older dog may feel very overwhelmed so take things by baby steps on getting everything in line and focus on one or two things at a time. Your new dogs will tell you when they are ready to move forward to new aspects of adjusting to their lives with you.
 
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