Puppy Owners Manual

Owning and raising a puppy does not need to be complicated. Like bringing home baby, you will get a lot of advice and conflicting opinions. Don’t lose heart. Here is some advice from career puppy raisers!

The first few days with your new puppy can be challenging. Your puppy may feel insecure, frightened by the new sights and sounds and lonely without his littermates.  A puppy needs to adjust to all of these changes, he may act shy, howl, whine and whimper, especially at night or when left alone. All of this is normal.

If your puppy cries during the night, you can run a fan on medium or high pointed away from the puppy or a radio tuned into static and set on medium volume or even better a sound machine. This creates white noise and drowns out any other noise in the home that might disturb your puppy and cause a crying spell. I know some people recommend turning on the television or music but these do not offer constant white noise. So if your puppy hears the slamming of a door in the hall or another sound, it could trigger a bout of bawling.

This information provided to you reflects what has worked for me and the puppies I have raised. It has been refined over the years and will continue to be as things change and new information emerges.

Please scroll down for more information.

Bringing puppy outdoors

In the case of Parvo, it used to be that you had to worry about exposing your puppy to other dogs. However, with the emergence of Parvo2 which is transmitted from wildlife to animals, there is more to be concerned about.


It is known that a puppies first vaccine (puppy vaccine) is not reliable, therefore, it is safer to assume your puppy is not adequately protected from these diseases until they have received their complete round of core puppy vaccinations. Keep in mind that immunity is not immediate and you can learn other prevention tips at this Dog Rescue Blog.


In the meantime, it is wise to curb the urge to bring your puppy outdoors whether it be for housebreaking or romping in the yard. For more information on Parvo, I have provided a link to a reputable article: click here


Just so you know, you can still bring your puppy with you outside, you’ll just have to carry them. So bring them to the bus stop or to pick up the kids from school because these are still great ways to socialize your puppy. You may be interested in a pet stroller or a Sherpa-type carrier.



Hypoglycemia and the Havanese puppy

All puppies have a much higher metabolism because they grow so quickly. Small breed pups grow at a much faster rate than large breeds. Imagine the Havanese metabolism as a fire that consistently needs fuel to burn efficiently. Small breeds REQUIRE constant access to food until at least twelve weeks of age because there is a risk of developing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia is treatable if caught in the very early stages, if not addressed it can cause seizure, coma and death. Obviously, this is very serious, but I don’t want to frighten you, for most healthy, average sized Havanese puppies, this can be avoided quite easily by taking these very easy steps.

  1. Provide food free-choice until the pup is at least 12 weeks of age. That is the puppy should have access to food and water 24/7, in his pen. This is why we also do not recommend crate training until at least 12 weeks of age. The pen will come in handy while you are feeding your puppy free-choice because you will not be able to determine your pups elimination schedule until it is appropriate to put him on a feeding schedule.
  2. Manage play time and stressful situations. Stress and long stretches of play can induce hypoglycemic reactions. Keep playtime to a minimum for the new puppy for at least the first two weeks of bringing him home. 10, then 15, then 20-minute playtimes are reasonable.
  3. Give your puppy Nutrical or similar vitamin supplement before venturing off to the Vet or giving him a bath, or doing something new. This provides instant sugar and nutrients his body will need to manage stress. Be sure not to overuse it, I don’t have the research but I would assume that overuse of a supplement may cause the body to not produce sufficient amounts on its own.
  4. SYMPTOMS OF HYPOGLYCEMIA: These are some of the common symptoms of hypoglycemia which I have seen.
  5. Puppy suddenly becomes still, dazed, staring into space.
  6. Intermittent shivering. This comes on suddenly and you are sure that they are not cold or frightened.

Never allow the symptoms to go beyond the first two your puppy needs glucose fast. Give your puppy a pea-sized dab of nutrical a on his tongue and rub some on his gums, if you do not have that use corn syrup or honey in a pinch.

http://thehistoryhacker.com/2012/09/07/most-interesting-methods-of-execution-in-history/ EMERGENCY: If it happens that your puppy is clenching his teeth, this is serious. If your puppy is rigid or his head is cocked to one side, he is having a seizure, if it is related to hypoglycemia, you will need to get sugar in him immediately.  Rub only a small amount on his gums, do not put a glob of the Nutrical or corn syrup into his mouth. it may cause him to choke. Make sure the pup is on his side and supervise him. Usually, the puppy will bounce back within a few minutes, once he is alright, give him an adequate amount of Nutrical, and call the Vet. Here is some important information on how to handle a seizure: Seizures In Dogs

When you travel with your puppy you should bring the Nutrical with you.

Most people will never see their puppy have a hypoglycemic episode. It should not happen if you are following the recommendations. If it happens more than twice within the first week, that is the absolute limit, take your puppy to the Vet to make sure there is not something else going on.

This risk should pass after 12 weeks but only if you are feeding on a scheduled breakfast, lunch and dinner, feeding an adequate amount, and not over exercising your puppy. Even so, you should continue to give him a dab when you’re doing something new, once your puppy is comfortable in new situations, which generally happens once they have bonded to you, you can put it away in the cupboard.

I also recommend using nutrical as a meal replacement if you have to travel in the car and your dog suffers from car sickness. This is only a temporary fix, so if you replace a meal, offer your dog some food when you get home or to your destination.

Containing your puppy

I recommend that you keep your young puppy in a PLASTIC play yard. My favorite pen is the IRIS CI-604 available on Amazon. This way the young puppy may have a wee pad in one corner, the bed in another and access to food/water as well (keeping in mind the importance of providing the toy breed puppy with free access to food and water until they are at least twelve weeks old) They are safely enclosed and have everything they need if you need to do errands or take a shower without a shadow.

We recommend introducing a crate when they are more physically capable of “holding it”, sometime between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Twelve weeks is usually a good time to start with the males, with a little more time given to the females. I happen to think this has more to do with design and nothing to do with behavior.

There are some who believe a strict regime of crate training and housebreaking should commence immediately upon bringing the puppy home. However, this leaves no room for food and water for the toy breed puppy who needs to eat free choice. When a puppy is eating free-choice, he will go to the bathroom free-choice and so it is impractical to immediately begin crate training.

Please note: The play yard is to be a temporary tool until you are ready to crate train at 12-16 weeks old or move your puppy to a designated area to sleep or stay when unsupervised. All young puppies should be contained in some way for their safety while unattended. Some people disagree with crating your dog. However, dogs appreciate a den, which will come to be their place to seek comfort and rest. Avoid overuse of the crate which can lead to adverse effects on bones and joints.

Please refrain from the temptation to use the crate as a “time out” or punishment. You may only succeed in creating a dog with neurotic tendencies. Dogs live in the present moment, they are not capable of understanding a reprimanded for something they did five minutes ago. This is what makes the dog special, the very reason why they are able to endlessly forgive us our offenses and offer a lifetime of unconditional love and companionship.


Teaching ‘NO’

If you have ever watched a pack of dogs interact and play, there is a whole lot of communication going on, for example, when a dog lies on his back in response to a growl from another dog, we know this to mean that he is being submissive to a dog that is more dominant. He’s saying
“you’re the boss” Going belly up exposes the most vulnerable part of his body.

Puppies do not understand our language, his dam didn’t yell “NO” when he did something wrong. In fact, a mother dog that gets annoyed at her young will bite the puppy on the nose or neck. You’ll want to use your fingers to quickly tap him on the neck (Strike quickly) or pinch the hair (not the skin) on their nose and give a little shake, you don’t need to much pressure, this is not to hurt the puppy, rather to startle him and get his full attention at the same time say “NO” in an assertive voice. The idea is that the physical touch will get their attention and they will associate the unpleasant nature of your reprimand, with that sound that popped out of your mouth – “NO”

Eventually, you will only have to resort to using the word. Believe it or not, a low growling sound works too but you may not be inclined to go that route.  Some puppies will think your playing and will nibble on you when you use the nose technique, so switch to the neck. Find out which technique works better for your puppy and before you know it, you and your puppy will come to an understanding of what is and what is not acceptable.

Please refrain from shaking a puppy by the scruff of the neck, this area is very sensitive to a young puppy and it can cause lasting pain. See this quick video of how to stop biting:



Biting and barking to a puppy is like grabbing and yelling at a kid. Although this is a behavior should be expected to a certain extent, it should always be addressed. We need to train our puppy that they do not play with us the way that they played with their littermates.

Thankfully, it is not too difficult for them to get it as long as you know how to communicate in dog.  Do not allow your children or anyone to play with or encourage a puppy that is biting. They should be instructed to stop playing with them.  This teaches the puppy that the play stops every time they display this type of behavior. You may also take this opportunity to teach your puppy the word “NO”


Chewing Safely:

Dogs need to chew. What they chew depends on what you provide for your puppy and what you teach them. Think nubs, a natural rubber toy with little nubs sticking out is a much-appreciated toy. Be sure you toss it when it appears that it is breaking apart.


They also enjoy ropes, however, these to need to be used with caution, it is best to never leave a puppy unattended with a toy that has the potential to come apart. Be realistic when choosing a toy, pull at it, imagine your dog gnawing on it, will it fill his belly up with faux fur? Is it so soft and cheap that he’ll have the stuffing out in no time? Puppies don’t know any better and can ingest toy parts, which is dangerous. Don’t assume because a toy is on the shelves that it is safe for your pet.


As for rawhide. It is dangerous to humans and pets. Rawhide can stain flooring and furniture, it can harbor salmonella, cause digestive upset in your dog.  More commonly it can cause a blockage. The same goes for some very popular edible plastic bones.Sadly, there are many owners out there sorry they ever believed the manufacturers claims that their products are edible and safe! It is best to use your own judgment about how “edible” and “safe” an item could really be for your dog. Additionally, there are green bones that are made with questionable ingredients. For example Soy Protein Isolate. Ironically, this is not only in pet food. If you don’t know what Soy Protein Isolate is, I would encourage you to look into it because it is also in many foods consumed by people. It should be avoided by both humans and pets because it means that it contains soybeans which were soaked in Hexane, a by-product of gasoline refining.

I like giving my dogs, Chicken jerky, baked treats, homemade is even better, hard rubber nubby toys, deer antlers and soup or marrow bones. The marrow bones, which can be purchased at the local supermarket, are boiled for about 10 minutes, cooled and served. Once the dogs get the marrow out, I can reboil to sanitize them and replace as needed.


Bully sticks are the latest craze. I have to admit, as much as I don’t care to have them in my house, dogs really do love them. Bully sticks have many names such as flossies or moo-sticks. What it is actually is dried bull’s penis. I suppose it is better to have a chewed flossie on your living room rug or have the kids play toss with a bully stick. Call it what they will, in my house, they are outlawed!



There are so many different opinions on how to properly housebreak a dog. I can share with you a process that works best for us. You should keep in mind that just because this works for us, does not necessarily mean it will work for you. The same goes for the books and online resources. That’s when brainstorming comes in handy and we are always available to do that with you. Be flexible, be consistent and be prepared to pack it all away and try again in a week or two, it is a process that takes time and patience, gentleness and consistency. Anyone who has potty trained a human baby knows this to be true.

There is a misconception that small breeds dogs are difficult to housebreak. It is the timing that matters, not the breed! The smaller dog needs more time to grow until they can be physically capable of “holding” it. The owner of a small breed needs to be aware of this and when the time is right. Owners must also be consistent with training.

While I believe crate training is best. I have also dual trained my dogs with success. That is they are crate trained and housebroken but will also go on a pad if necessary. This is helpful during inclement weather and when we are staying in hotels during show season. No matter what, you should always set boundaries within your home to control your dog until he is able to be trusted in the house unsupervised.


Crate training:

Here is a great video explaining the selection of proper crate and crate training:


Bell training

Bell training can be started around 16 weeks old. Tie a jingle bell or two onto the knob of the door you will be using when bringing your puppy outside. Be sure it hangs low enough for your puppy to be able to hit the bell with his nose or paw.
First two weeks of training: ring the bell yourself each time you go to the door to bring your puppy outside. Next two weeks: Pick your puppy up and touch his nose to the bell just prior to going outside. Your puppy should quickly catch onto this and begin to ring the bell when he wants to go out when he does praise him. Keep in mind, if it doesn’t seem to be working repeat the process! There will come a day when you hear the little jingle that lets you know he finally figured it out. Praise him and take him out BUT do not play, until he goes potty otherwise, you will confuse him into thinking that he will get your attention or playtime when he rings the bell.

Housebreaking can be successful as long as you are open-minded and think before you act or react. Make sure the entire family is on board so that training is consistent. Your puppy only wants to make you happy, you are his hero. Teach him well and he will bloom into the best dog he can be.

Removing Stains & Odors

Have no fear, there is a cleaner, I recommend that works wonders. It is safe, non-toxic and mild. It is an enzyme, so it consumes organic material, once dried you nor the puppy will ever know it was there. Use it on carpets, bulky items such as pet beds. It does not mask odors, it eats them. The product is called Nature’s Miracle™ and I recommend every puppy owner have it on hand. I travel with it to when on the show circuit and we are staying at hotels or when bringing a young dog to family functions. It’s great cleaner to have on hand when you are potty training human babies too!