What Does Your New Havanese Darling Want You to Know?

Dear Owner,

I’m so excited that I finally get to meet you. I’ve been dreaming about this day for a long time. First, I’d like to thank you for making a commitment to me and giving me my “fur-ever” home. I know that I’m a very lucky puppy. I’d also like to thank you in advance for being kind and patient as you raise me. I’m so glad you’ll always remember that I’m a baby and still learning, but I’m also extremely eager to please you! We’re going to be best friends.

My foster parents have spent a lot of time socializing me for you, but you’ll want to continue getting me used to being gently handled every day. Please gently massage my ears, my paws, my tail, my belly, and my head. Practice gently opening my mouth and looking at my teeth. I shouldn’t be shy of letting you touch any part of my body. If you do these things, I’ll grow up allowing you touch me anywhere without fear. It’s also important that you start getting me used to being brushed even if you’re going to be keeping me in a short puppy cut. Trust me, I’ll be much easier to teach now than when I’m older. My foster parents recommend Chris Christensen’s wooden pin brush because it’s soft and gentle. In fact, it’ll just feel like you’re giving me a gentle massage. You’ll probably also want to buy a small greyhound comb from Chris Christensen for line brushing and getting out the small knots. It’s important that you never comb a Havanese with a dry coat, so please mist me with a conditioner mixture prior to brushing. Please feel free to reference the Happy Tails Havanese blog entry called Hairy Moments with Havanese as well as the Scrub a Dub Dog for more extensive tips on grooming and bathing. My foster parents also included links to some good products in those two blog entries, so be sure to bookmark them and make them favorites on your computer for easy reference. Here are the links: http://happytailshavanese.com/;hairy-moments-with-havanes/ and http://happytailshavanese.com/scrub-a-dub-dog/.

It’s also super important that you socialize me to the car and other people very early in my life. Bonds formed by the Havanese puppy during this time will last a lifetime! Believe it or not, I should meet at least 100 new people before I’m 12 weeks old. Feel free to put me in the car and take me to nearby dog friendly stores (please NO pet stores yet). You can carry me into dog friendly stores and have people gently pet me and offer me a treat. Set a goal of 5 people a day for 20 days, and you’ve already got your 100 people. Conversely, you can set a goal of 10 people a day for 10 days; do what works best for you. However, please don’t put me down on the floor or go into any pet stores until I’ve had all three sets of shots. I’ve already been wormed and received my first set of shots, but it isn’t safe for me to be set down on the floor or to go into a pet store until I’ve had all of my boosters.

My foster parents also think it’s a really good idea for you to enroll me in a safe puppy class so that I can learn to like other dogs as well as begin learning basic obedience. Please do your research and find a class that uses positive training so that I grow to LOVE learning instead of fearing it. You’ll probably want to buy me a six foot training lead and a collar. The best collar for small, toy dogs like myself is usually a comfort harness because our tracheas are very sensitive. If you choose to purchase a traditional neck collar instead, please get a gentle one that will distribute pressure equally. White Pine’s has a gentle collar that distributes pressure equally along the throat, and the bonus is that it would also protect my luxurious coat (this makes the White Pine collars an excellent choice for show puppies). Also, please know that from 8-12 weeks, I will be experiencing a fear period. Any traumatic experiences during this time could have a lasting effect on me. I can be apprehensive about almost everything. One day I may be outgoing and bold, and then the next day your adventurous puppy will hesitate from fear. That doesn’t mean you should stop socializing me. Not at all because it’s FAR too important! But please DO try to make my experiences as comfortable and positive as possible so that I don’t develop lifelong fears.

Owners often say that potty training is the hardest part of having a puppy. Lucky for you, I’m already crate trained, and I’m even well on my way to being potty trained. It’s really not so bad teaching potty training IF you use a crate. Management is key to potty training successfully. Here’s the most important rule: If you can’t give me your 100%, undivided attention and you aren’t able to continuously watch me, please go ahead and crate me with a nice Kong stuffed with something healthy. If I’m awake but occupying myself with my safe chew toys, I’ll need to be let out of my crate to potty every hour. The bonus is that letting me potty so frequently gives me a LOT of opportunity to learn my potty spot, and it gives you a chance to snuggle me and play with me a bit. I can hold it longer if I’m sleeping, but as soon as I wake up, I’ll need to get right outside. Please don’t leave me free in the house unsupervised because I don’t know the rules of the house yet, and I am so desperate to make you happy. Besides, if you leave me out all of the time, I’ll be too excited and busy exploring to sleep, and a puppy my age still needs at least 20 hours of sleep a day. If I don’t get enough sleep, I can get overstimulated, cranky, and maybe even sick.

I’m already used to sleeping in the Pet Gear the Other Door Steel Crate (size 27 inch), but you can buy me any crate you like. Even though I’m already accustomed to a crate, I’m also used to having my siblings in there with me to keep me company so please don’t be alarmed if I cry. Keeping me in my crate when you can’t watch me is the BEST way to teach me the house rules with errorless learning. Every time you put me in my crate, please remember to give me a treat for going in like a good puppy and leave me an appropriate chew toy that I’m only allowed to have in my crate. Over time, my crate will be like my home, and I’ll go in quite willingly because I know that it’s my safe place. While I’m in my crate enjoying my special treat, I can’t chew on anything I shouldn’t, get into anything harmful, or make a potty mistake; so this process truly does set you and me up for success. It’s a win-win!

I know that it’s going to be really hard on you to put me in my crate the first couple of days I’m home, but it really is what’s best for me. I’m so cute that you’ll want to hold me, play with me, and love on me, constantly! Please don’t give in to that temptation. Be sure to start like you want to finish. In other words, begin to train me to self soothe from the very first day you bring me home so that I don’t develop separation anxiety. Don’t worry. It’ll be harder on you than it is for me. I may sound pitiful when I whine, but I’m really safe and warm. I’ll settle down eventually, but it’s important that you don’t take me out of my cage if I’m whining. If you do take me out when I’m pitching a fit, I’ll learn to cry even louder the next time because I know it means that you’ll come and get me. I need to learn that a quiet puppy gets rewarded with freedom and attention, so please wait until I’m quiet before you get me out to play with me.

There is a puppy that you can buy online from Amazon or at PetSmart called the Snuggle Puppy. Please consider buying it for me. It will be very comforting for me during my first couple of days away from my siblings. The Snuggle Puppy even has a heartbeat, and it may help me not to feel so lonely and afraid. It also helps if you buy a wire cage that’s open on all four sides so that I can see out of it, and please put my cage in whatever room you’re in. I like to be near my people. If you’re cooking in the kitchen, please bring my cage into the kitchen with you so that I can see you. If you’re watching TV in the living room, bring me to the living room too. Finally, please put my cage next to the bed while you sleep. If I start to cry, you can put your fingers in the cage and let me know that you’re there. I’ll soon settle down to sleep until I let you know that I need to potty (this is ONLY time you can let me out of my cage when I’m whining). If it’s 1:00a.m. and I’m whining, chances are I need to potty immediately. Please count to ten, take deep breaths, tell me that I’m a good puppy for letting you know that I need to do my business instead of soiling my bed, and remind yourself that this stage of interrupted sleep won’t last very long.

If you find that I begin to start soiling my crate, it’s likely because I’ve figured out that by going to the far end of it to do my business I can still sleep comfortably on the other end where it’s still dry. This may indicate that I’m not ready for that much freedom. That means that you may need to purchase a smaller, travel sized crate (just big enough for me to sleep, stand up, and turn around in) until I get older and develop better bladder control. An alternative would be blocking off the back of the cage with a divider of some sort. I don’t like to soil myself so keeping me in a smaller crate will usually fix the problem; I’ll hold it as long as possible until you can whisk me outside to my potty spot. I’m very smart and I already know that I prefer going potty outside. It’s just that as a baby, I can’t always hold it that long. Please remember to take me to my potty spot frequently and give me a treat while you tell me what a good dog I am when I do my business. As a baby, I still have to potty as soon as I wake up in the mornings as well as after every nap. I also need to potty after I eat or drink as well as after every play session. All that movement from vigorous play gets my bladder and bowel stimulated. I even need to go potty at least once (sometimes twice) in the middle of the night depending on how old I am. This will gradually get better and when I’m about 14- 16 weeks old, I’ll usually be able to sleep through the night. Aren’t you glad these nocturnal interruptions will only last about a month or two? I won’t be as exhausting as a human baby, so just enjoy the nighttime cuddles when you get up to take me out. One day, you’ll miss them.

In addition to taking me to my potty spot every time I wake up, after I eat or drink, and after I play, I may also need to go at other random times so if you see me circling, that means I have to go right NOW. Please don’t make me wait. Scoop me up, and run for my potty spot. If I do make a mistake, please know that I am very sorry. You don’t need to yell at me or smack me on the bottom. It’s best to just interrupt me by making a loud noise or startle me by clapping your hands and saying, “Let’s go potty outside.” Then, quickly take me outside and let me finish my business. Hopefully, you were watching me closely enough that you were able to interrupt me in the middle of my business so that I’ll still have some business left to do outside. If I do finish my business outside, please praise me and give me a treat. That’s how I’ll learn where you want me to go. You’ll also want to invest in some Nature’s Miracle to clean up any accidents I do have. Nature’s Miracle is the best product because it will remove ALL of the scent so that I won’t want to keep using the same spot later on. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but if you follow this potty training protocol faithfully for a few months, I will catch on quickly and you’ll have a very well trained dog for life!

I know we’ve had a LOT of potty talk already, but I do need to tell you a few more things because they’re SUPER important. Please be sure to feed me the same puppy food I’ve been eating at my foster home so that I don’t get sick. I’ve been eating the Royal Canin Starter Kit (dry puppy food). You can buy it at PetSmart, but please make sure it’s the mommy/puppy starter kit and not the puppy food. I’m still too little for the actual puppy food. When and IF you do want to switch my food, please do it gradually so that it doesn’t upset my stomach. It’s best to gradually mix the new food into the old food very slowly over time. Also, if I’m a little constipated, try giving me one teaspoon of pumpkin puree (non-seasoned). You may have to use your finger to gently push it into my mouth to coax me into eating it, but most puppies love it and it’ll fix me right up! Puppies get upset tummies rather easily so adding a supplement and a probiotic to my food is also a really good idea. The probiotic may prevent an upset tummy due to all the new excitement and adventure I’ll be having. My foster mom suggests buying the Dog Zymes probiotic as well as their Dog Zymes Ultimate vitamin mix. You can buy them from Nature’s Farmacy online. They’re both completely safe for puppies and will help me grow up big and strong. After I turn six months old, you can use another good supplement called Show Stopper instead, but it’s not safe for puppies and is only necessary if you want to keep me in a show coat. If you don’t plan to show me, the Dog Zymes is plenty to keep my happy Havanese tail wagging!

I just know that I’ll LOVE being a part of your family, and we’ll bring each other a great deal of happiness. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for making my home a safe place for me to be. Thank you for always having fresh, clean water out for me, as well as lots of safe chew toys. I promise to try my hardest to please you, and I’ll love you unconditionally now and for always!

Love fur-ever,

Your Puppy

P.S. If you have ANY questions or need help with anything, please don’t hesitate to contact Happy Tails Havanese. My foster parents are there to help! They’d also appreciate letters and pictures. I know they’re going to miss me and would love to receive updates and pictures of me as I grow up. Any feedback you’d like to leave on Facebook or the blog would also be greatly appreciated.

Website://happtytailshavenese.com

Blog: http://happytailshavanese.com/blog

Facebook: search for Happy Tails Havanese

P.S.S. My foster mom recommends Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar  as well as Perfect Puppy in Seven Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Sophia Yin if you are interested in reading good books on raising a puppy.