What to expect and prepare for when you bring home your puppy

First couple of days:

When you first bring your puppy home, try to allow for a couple quiet days to get adjusted. Your friends and family will probably want to come over right away but it’s best to wait and let your puppy settle first. Your puppy has just left his or her littermates and is in a completely new environment, and you don’t want to overwhelm them. 



When you bring your puppy home, they will be young and needing to go the the bathroom frequently.  I use artificial grass matts to train them, which can be found at Walmart. They work if you have to leave them for long periods of time, but I don’t recommend relying on them too much. It’s best to get them in the habit of going outside right away, as it will cause less confusion in the long run. Take your puppy outside to pee when it wakes up, after a play, and after a meal. I like to take them outside at least once every 60 minutes at first. Signs they need to go include sniffing, circling or approaching the door. The effort you put in in the beginning will pay off. 

One of the biggest mistakes people make is letting their puppy have too much freedom too early on. Do not let your Havanese have full run of the house until they are 100% housebroken (some may be there by 6 months but others may take closer to a year). If your puppy starts peeing in a spot in the home, it can be VERY hard to break this habit. The best thing to do is prevent that from happening in the first place. You will need a crate or an ex-pen to keep your puppy in when you can’t watch them. If you need to leave your puppy home for an extended amount of time, you can leave a potty pad in an ex-pen with them. You can also gate off a carpet-free area of your home, such as the kitchen. If your puppy does have an accident indoors, clean it up well and use an urine odour remover to eliminate the scent. 

When your puppy goes potty outdoors, praise them like crazy and give them a high value treat. I also like to add a verbal cue. You can use “go potty” or “hurry up” or whatever you feel comfortable with. 

If you see your puppy go potty indoors, a gentle but stern “no” is enough (don’t yell, hit or scare your puppy), then bring them outdoors and show them where to go. NEVER physically punish your puppy for going indoors, this will just make them afraid to go potty in front of you indoors or out. 

Your puppy may also need to go potty at night when you first bring them home. Sometimes they sleep through the night from day one and other times it will take a couple weeks. If you do take your puppy out at night make sure it’s just to go pee then right back into his or her crate. Havanese are smart and if you start to give them snuggles, playtime or food at night, they will decide that’s a great thing and will train you to do it more often. 



When you first bring your puppy home, they should be fed three times per day. You can put down the food and leave it for half an hour or so, then pick it up until the next meal.  You can follow the amount recommended on your kibble bag. Sometimes I add goodies to the food, such as a little chopped meat, or some canned puppy food, but it isn’t necessary.  Nina Ottosson toys can be a fun way to give them their meals.  They are puzzle toys that engage their minds and if you have a hesitant eater, can be the added bit of fun to get them to eat. Sometimes I find them on sale at Winners, amazon also carries them as do some pet stores. 
For treats I like little bits of cut up meat, freeze-dried liver or meat, or sometimes just a bit of kibble works too. 



Puppies will be teething and need things to chew on.  Bully sticks, pig hooves, or yak cheese bones are always popular. Rope toys, and other soft toys also work. Kongs and other toys you can stuff are great stuffed with frozen yogurt, canned dog food peanut butter, apple sauce, canned pumpkin etc.  The cold can help their little gums feel better as they are teething. 



Crate Training:


Crate training is a very important skill. Having them crate trained is so useful if they ever need to travel or stay at a vet. Their crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand and lie down in but not so large they can make one side a potty area and sleep in the other side. You may need a smaller crate at first, then replace it with a larger one as they grow. Some crates come with a divider you can use then remove as the puppy gets older. Most Havanese puppies can use a crate approximately 24”x16” wide. A crate should never be used as a punishment, it should be a comfortable, safe place for the puppy to be. 

I recommend keeping the crate in your bedroom when you first bring your puppy home. If you can put it on a nightstand next to your bed that’s ideal. That way they can see you and you can easily reach over and comfort them at night. Having them nearby also allows you to hear if they need to pee in the middle of the night. Remember if you do take them out at night that it’s just to pee, then go straight back into their crate until you are ready to wake up. An ex-pen is also a great tool to have on hand, so your puppy has a safe place to play and be if you are too busy to supervise them.





Socializing your puppy is one of the most important jobs you will have when you first bring your puppy home. Socilialization is the process of giving your puppy exposure to a variety of new experiences while young, so that as adults they become comfortable with a variety of animals, people, places, and experiences.  Your goal when introducing your puppy to something new, is to have it become a neutral experience. You never want to scare your puppy or get them overly excited either.  I give them a very good start with the Puppy Culture Protocol, but their education needs to continue after they have been brought home.  Your puppy will go home with their first set of shots, but may not be fully vaccinated, so you do need to be careful. However, the critical socialization period is 8-16 weeks of age, and it’s incredibly important to get your puppy out and exposed to new things in this period. To do so safely, you can take them to places like Canadian Tire, Winners, Staples etc. Here is a list of stores that currently allow pets: https://www.bringfido.ca/attraction/shops/state/ontario/?amp=on 

If you bring them to a pet store or other area highly frequented by other dogs, make sure they stay in your arms to stay safe. You do not want your puppy picking up Parvo as this can be very deadly.

When you go out, you can bring some treats and if anyone shows interest in your puppy, you can offer to give them a treat to give to your puppy. If you see another dog, they don’t need to “meet” the dog directly, but let them see it, and give them treats to make it a positive experience. Take them out on garbage day and treat them as the noisy truck passes by (you may need to keep them in your arms if you live in a high traffic area, to keep them safe from germs until vaccinated). You can invite as many people over to your home to meet  puppy.  People of all ages, sizes, colours etc etc. You can even just take them to a grocery store or other busy store and hold them while letting them watch people go by.   There are lots more ideas in this e-book, which you can download for free:  https://shop.avidog.com/collections/supplements/products/97-ways-to-create-great-puppies




Take a look around the space that the puppy will be spending time in and make sure there are no hazards. Make sure any toxic plants are off the ground, wires are not accessible to them (they are particularly fun to chew) and there is nothing else they can get into. 


Vets, groomers, dog trainers:


Depending on where you live, there can be a waiting list to get in with vet, groomers or puppy classes. This is something you can research and book ahead of time. You puppy will go home with age-appropriate vaccines. They need three sets of vaccines so will need them at 8, 12 and  16 weeks. You can also ask your vet if they do titres instead of more vaccines.  

Groomers often have reduced rates for puppies and special “meet and greet” programs, it’s worth looking into these and getting your puppy accustomed to a groomer from a young age. 

Puppy classes are very important. It helps socialize your puppy, teaches it manners, and builds the bond between you and your puppy. 




Havanese are a non-shedding, hypoallergenic breed, but they do require regular grooming.  They will need to be taken to the groomers or cut at home every few weeks (unless you choose to keep their hair long, which requires daily brushing).  They will also need a bath every couple of weeks or more, depending on the season and how dirty they get.  I personally love Chris Christensen grooming products, which can be ordered online from Wheatley Wares. (Wheatley Wares store is located in Ancaster, Ontario). The tear-free shampoo is great for puppies. You will also need a hair brush, nail clippers, and a toothbrush. If you intend on having a professional groomer groom your dog, it’s a good idea to book early as, in my area at least, they are booking several months in advance. If you plan on grooming your own dog, you can get some good tips from the book “From Nose to Tail” off the Havanese Fanciers of Canada website. http://www.havanesefanciers.com/Hav101_bookreviews%20


Collars and apparel:


Your puppy will be pretty small still when they head home. The RC Pets collar in size xs should fit them (you can get them at Rens Pets) or something of a similar size.  Some people prefer harnesses to collars, and if your puppy is prone to pulling on a leash, a harness can be preferable. The JettaJacks  Fluid Motion Harness is an excellent brand. They would likely start in the smallest size available and grow from there. I’ve also heard good things about the Rogz fast-fit harnesses for cats (a good transitional harness for when they are still tiny puppies). 

Hurrta is my favourite winter jacket brand. At full size they will likely be the 12” size, but will be smaller at first of course. If you live in an area where they salt the sidewalks, it’s recommended to use boots on them. Getting them used to this early on is a good idea. Some people find getting the little balloon style booties and adding a pair of socks underneath so the hair doesn’t get pulled, works the best.