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The Havanese is both trainable and very intelligent with a sweet, non-quarrelsome disposition.
Havanese, like many of the Toy breeds, may be a bit slower to housebreak. This does not mean difficult or impossible, just that it may take more time.
One of the most important things to teach your puppy right away is where and when to "go potty". This takes time, attention and consistency and the more of these three things you can give to him, the faster your pup will train.
Even though I suggest that dry food should be left out all day for Havanese to eat whenever, when potty training this is not a good practice. When training, it is best to feed the pup 3 separate times a day so that after feeding you can anticipate when to take the puppy outside. Also, learn the signs that your pup makes just before he goes, like sniffing the ground (usually precedes the pee) and moving quickly around in circles (usually precedes the poop) and get him outside immediately. Trying to help the pup "get it right" as often as possible.
PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE, and REWARD your puppy for going in the right place!
If the pup is let to go potty inside the house, it will be more difficult to train him. It takes 100% of your concentrated efforts at first to reinforce the behaviour that you wish to establish and completely avoid behaviour in the wrong places.
DO NOT SCOLD if you DO NOT catch him in the act of messing in the house, he will not know what you are angry about. If you catch him in the midst of it, make a sharp noise (clap hands, or say something to startle him) so as to interrupt the flow and then immediately take him outside.
A puppy out of sight is a puppy getting into trouble. Use a crate or secure confinement area for the puppy when you’re at work or when no one can watch him. This is an indispensable tool in potty training because most dogs will not soil in their crate.
When crate training, your pup will whine and scratch to be let out. He only wants to be with you but this doesn’t mean that he hates the crate. Dogs are den animals and want to have a den like spot just for them, they feel secure and safe there. Sit by the crate but do not let the pup out unless he is quiet for at least 10 seconds. Opening the door while he is fussing will only reinforce the behaviour that when he makes a fuss, this opens the door.
As a general rule, puppies can stay in a crate for as many hours as they are months old, up to a maximum of four hours at a time. During the day, if you need to leave your pup for longer than this, have a long-term confinement area. It should be large enough that he can play in one area where his toys and food are and at the other end have a spot for him to eliminate if necessary (on paper or pad).
At night, set the crate near where you will be sleeping and if you think the pup has to "go" then quickly carry the pup outside. Be prepared with slippers and housecoat before releasing the pup from the crate as any delay will prompt him squatting right there. After a time, the pup can walk himself to the door but promptly with no distractions. Again - PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE, and REWARD your puppy for going in the right place!
Try and relax with the process although the more vigilance on your part the less time it will take. Reliable potty training with the Havanese can take 6 to 8 months.
It is a lot of fun to train your Havanese to ring a bell in order to be let outside. I choose a large parrot bell but you can also use four to six jingle bells tied to a long cord and hang it next to the door. It should be hung at the pup's nose level.
I found it easy to train by placing a small amount of treat (I used liverwurst) on the bell and then introducing my Havanese to it. Of course she licked the bell yum, yum, and become familiar with the sound of it. The next time I placed a little treat on the bell and she licked it making it sound, I opened the door. I continued to repeat this exercise for the rest of the day and whenever she went to the door and scratched, I refused to open the door unless she made the bell ring. She soon caught on and was ringing the bell with out scratching at all. This behaviour can be learned in one weekend and it sure saves the paint on the doors and the trim.
You can also train right from the beginning as a new pup. Every time you take the dog out you quickly ring the bell by the door. The pup learns that this sound always precedes going outside. One day, they will ring it themselves and then you simply reinforce the behaviour from there.
In any case, as soon as they begin to ring the bell, you must open the door every time even though it seems they are ringing the bell constantly. This is when the behaviour is getting really fixed and soon they will ring the bell only to go out.
Litter Box Training
Havanese are very suitable for apartment/condo living because they can be trained to use a litter box. This also has the added benefit of saving the yard from "dead spots" and the litter box is especially appreciated when weather is cold and snowy.
Training the Havanese to go in a litter box is just as easy as training him to go outside. Litter pans are available at pet supply stores and a large moulded plastic pan is sturdy and easy to clean.
You can buy disposable liners, available from medical supply houses, that are more affordable. You can remove the feces with toilet paper to flush down the toilet and discard when necessary. Enzyme treated pads are expensive but may be helpful when starting the training of young puppies. Pellets and litter are available but I would think messy with the Havanese long coat. Newspapers can also be used but may confuse the pup when newspaper is just left lying around.
Location of the litter-box is very important, it should be in their own
private spot away from sleeping and eating areas. The litter
box training is similar to the outside training -–take your Havanese to the
litter-box frequently and PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE, and REWARD your
puppy for going in the right place! Litter-box training does not discourage
Havanese from eliminating outside and in fact most will prefer to potty
outside when possible.
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