These past few months have been crazy at our house. Among the trips (Florida, I love you) and general shenanigans that summer and fall bring, we also purchased a fluffy little, black and white Havanese puppy dog. And oh, how life has changed.
The good news is that raising a dog is much easier than raising a kid. If you can survive the first few days and weeks, and with proper training, you’re good to go. We were lucky enough that ours never whines in the night. Not on day one. Not ever.
Here’s an Instagram picture of the little dude:
Don’t let his cute little fuzzy face fool you. The guy’s a real rascal—which means he’s a perfect family fit. We spent months reading and researching dog breeds and narrowed it down to two: Yorkshire Terrier and Havanese. We decided on the Havanese because it seemed they barked less than a Yorkie. (A Yorkie pup still tempts me! Dearest, are you reading this?)
We named him Bumi (Boomy) after a character in Avatar the Last Airbender. It’s one of our favorite animated series and the temperament fit. (Pro Tip: Never mention the M. Night Shyamalan movie. Ever. Boo!)
We’ve loved him. He’s mischievous, playful, sweet, and he loves people. Maybe a little too much. I suppose now is a good time to apologize to all guests he’s tried to hump. Please come back and visit us.
As dog owners know, we can talk about our little fur babies all day long, so I’ll stop now. Let’s buckle down and proceed with the real reason you’re reading this article.
What to Buy Your Havanese Puppy
We’ve never owned a dog before, let alone a small one like a Havanese. We were not sure what to buy. We couldn’t find a shopping list that seemed to make sense. When we asked what people purchased, we received general answers: “a leash,” “a collar,” “a crate.”
Unfortunately, we also wasted money buying gear that wasn’t a good fit, or didn’t work for a new miniature dog.
This isn’t a definitive list; rather, use it as a guide. Maybe you can avoid some of our purchasing mistakes. Please, if you have product suggestions, comments, or ideas, add them to the list via the comments section below.
Under blogging laws and yaddi-yadda, I have to add a disclaimer section, so here’s that:
Disclaimer 1: All product links are affiliate links, and may put a few pennies into my “Buy Booms a Special Treat” doggy fund. Links open in a new tab.
Disclaimer 2: We’re first-time dog owners; I also tend to research things to a fault. I’m not claiming expertise in this area, and you are responsible for your own pet. If something on this list isn’t a good fit for your pet, don’t buy it.
Disclaimer 3: I am shamelessly adding pictures of my puppy Bumi throughout this post. Most of them will show how we use the products mentioned below.
Here are a few of the issues that you’re going to run into when purchasing puppy supplies:
- Your pup grows fast, so you may end up buying double.
- You will replace things sooner than you think or would like.
- Not every puppy is the same, so be adaptable.
- Some toys are too big, others too small.
- Not all dogs chew the same; some nibble, others really go at it.
- Solve a lot problems by measuring your Havanese first.
Let’s start with the basics and go from there.
A Havanese puppy has a small neck, which makes finding a small enough collar difficult. We purchased a cat collar at our local pet store for weeks 9-13 because we couldn’t find a dog collar small enough. If you want a collar during those weeks, find one that’s 6″ – 9″, and 3/8″ thick. (Again, measure first!)
Your puppy doesn’t need a collar until the moment you decide to let him outside. Considering that his first few weeks at home will be in a pen, you could wait.
When measuring your dog’s neck, if you don’t have a flexible measuring tape, use a string and then measure the string against a hard ruler. Leave enough room that two fingers can fit underneath the collar without force. Leave too much room, and it will slip over their head or catch their lower jaw.
- Dog collar recommendation: Pawtitas Reflective Dog Collar*
- Dog collar recommendation 2: Blueberry Pet Classic Solid Color Nylon Dog Collar
Two other things to consider with the collar:
- The thinner the collar, the less likely it is to mat your dog’s hair. Go for 3/8″ wide if possible.
- If you like leather, consider a rolled dog collar to prevent mats.
* Colorful dog collar colors, particularly pinks and reds, can sometimes stain white hair when wet. You can always hand wash a dog collar with dog shampoo before your puppy wears it.
It’s fun shopping for dog tags. Find one that suites your taste, and your dog’s personality. If you buy from your local pet store, they often have free engraving on site. Vets also sell dog tags, as do other online merchants.
Once you factor in engraving and shipping costs, buying locally can be less expensive.
Havanese Dog Harnesses
Finding a dog harness that’s small enough to fit a puppy is also challenging. We wasted money on a couple before finding one that fit. Why a harness, you ask? Smaller dog breeds and puppies are known for having sensitive throats, and trying to teach a Havanese to walk using a collar can cause issues with their trachea (not guaranteed, be gentle!).
We did not find a harness that would fit Bumi until he was 14 weeks old. If push comes to shove, you can wait to buy this.
Measure your dog’s girth around the chest (just behind the front legs) to determine what harness size to buy.
- Recommended harness, week 14 – 4 months: Soft Mesh Comfy Step in Dog Vest Harness
Dog Leashes & Leads
Leashes and leads are two different things. Use a leash when training your puppy to walk and keeping it close to you. Use a lead for “free reign” time, where you let the puppy explore by itself and wander around. Leads are also used in distance training exercises. Leads can be as short or as long as you need.
You’d think that any sort of leash or lead would work. Not so. We discovered some interesting things when it came to choosing and using them.
Choose a lightweight leash. The lighter it is, the easier it will be for your Havanese to explore and walk around while you hold it. We started with a medium-weight one, and it pulled our puppy’s head down. We had to buy another, lighter one for the first while.
- Recommended leash, 8-24 weeks: Any simple nylon leash
- Recommended leash (if you want an upgrade), 25+ weeks: Pawtitas Reflective Dog Leash
- Recommended lead: Check Cord Dog Lead, or DIY (see below).
Do-it-Yourself Dog Lead
I had some extra paracord laying around the house, so I made my own. If you’re a DIYer, it’s not hard. The most comfortable rope is 1/4″ thick.
- Cut the cord or rope to the length you want, and melt the ends with a lighter so that it doesn’t fray. (Caution! HOT HOT HOT!)
- Tie the cord to the hook using a hangman’s knot.* (Be sure to put the hook on the cord before starting the knot.)** If you’re using thicker rope, consider whipping the end.
- There’s no need to form any sort of loop in the trailing end of the lead.
- Now you can hook the lead to your dog’s collar or harness.
*Importantisimo! Do not tie a hangman’s knot around any part of your dog. It’s a forever-tightening knot and isn’t easy to remove once tight. You could seriously injure or fatally wound your dog if you do. Only use it to connect the hook to the rope.
** I chose to use a Hangman’s knot for two reasons: 1) it’s easy and doesn’t accidentally untie, and 2) it creates a thicker, reinforced part of the rope right where a doggy likes to chew on its lead.
Havanese Dog Food & Dishes
Until your Havanese puppy turns one, feed him (or her) puppy food. Quality puppy chow has added nutrients and vitamins that strengthen your puppy’s system and helps him to grow.
Bumi’s breeders started him on whatever it is they sell at Costco. We don’t have a Costco membership, so we used the Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy Food kibble for a few weeks, as it’s said to be similar. (Again, I don’t have Costco, so I can’t verify that.)
Eukanuba seemed decent enough, but after some extended comparisons with other foods, I concluded that it was too expensive and only slightly more healthy than most other brands.
I decided to order a more wholistic dog food made by Fromm. Bumi transitioned to it without any issues and continues to enjoy the taste. Now that he’s been eating it for a while, he’s leaner, more fit, his breath smelled better, and his coat is shinier.
- Recommended Havanese Puppy Food: Fromm Gold Holistic Puppy Dry Dog Food*
Avoid food by Purina. Their food ranks among the least healthy dog food. It’s akin to feeding your puppy Captain Crunch for every meal.
As a side note, We’ve been thinking about feeding Bumi a raw diet, but I’ve gotta’ be honest, it smells like bunk and it’s expensive. I’m not sure my sniffer or wallet can handle it.
As for dishes, about anything will work as long as it doesn’t have lead in it. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s safe for a human to eat on or with, it’s safe for your puppy. We went with straight-edged, heavier bowls so that they stay upright.
- Recommended food bowl: Ethical Stoneware Dog Dish, 5″
- Recommended water bowl: Ethical Stoneware Dog Dish, 7.5″ (you could also get away with another 5″ if you want to refill it more often)
- Recommended placemat (if you need spill protection): Loving Pets Bella Spill-Proof Pet Mat
* It takes 1-2 weeks to switch your puppy to a new dog food. Start mixing the new food in with the old until he’s transitioned to the new. If you move too fast, you risk giving your puppy explosive, gooey diarrhea or other tummy issues. (P.S. I just vomited in my mouth thinking about it, ewww.)
Havanese Dog Treats
Find treats with the least amount of sugars, wheat, and filler content. We like the chewier treats for simple training and biscuit-like ones for crate training.
You don’t have to buy treats. Shred some boiled chicken breast, cut up some pre-cooked ham, or even use hot dogs for training if you’re on a budget. As with you, the fewer preservatives, additives, and salts you give your dog, the better.
Here are a few commercial ones that we have loved so far:
- Jerky, which we cut up into small bits: Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Grain-Free Wild Bits
- Fruitables: Fruitables Skinny Minis Apple Bacon
- Blue Buffalo Trail Treats: Wilderness Blue Buffalo Dog Treats Turkey Biscuits (we break these up into smaller chunks)
Crates for Havanese
Your crate choices are flexible. We found that a plastic crate can become a chew toy, which of course, ruins it. Too small a crate and your dog acts like it’s in the bitterest throws of its life. Too large of one, and it might use one end of it as a potty. That’s no bueno.
A plastic crate has less internal space because of the diagonal walls, lets in less light, is easier to chew, and takes up more space if traveling with it. I like the doors on plastic crates better, and I also like the color varieties.
Metal crates let in more light, are roomier, a little heavier, let you attach things almost anywhere, and can collapse for travel. They also look nicer.
We started with a plastic crate about 18″ x 10″ x 12″ (not sure of exact dimensions) and our dog hated it. He felt stuffy and crowded, so we upgraded to a 21″ metal crate. He still didn’t like it and whined about the size. We then purchased a 24″ double-door, and to this day he loves it. We like it too.
From my research, I found that most Havanese owners use a 21″ crate until their dogs are full grown. Your dog will let you know.
- Recommended Crate: 22″ or 24″ Midwest iCrate
- Recommended Crate Mat: Reversible Paw Print / Fleece Pet
- Recommended Dog Bed: K&H Manufacturing Self-Warming Lounge Sleeper
Playpens come in all sorts of sizes and materials. Havanese love climbing, and many new puppies learn to climb out of their pens (even up to 4-feet tall!) soon after arriving in their new homes. The little smarty pants. A plastic pen’s smaller grid make it easier to climb on.
Before buying a playpen, ask a few questions:
- Does it have enough room to use a potty pad?
- Will the puppy be using a potty pad, or will outside potty training begin immediately?
- What surface will it be on?
- Does it match your house? (If you care about that sort of thing, we do.)
- Do you need a playpen?
Playpens are helpful if you want a place to play with your puppy without the fear of it escaping. They’re also helpful to keep your puppy from feeling overwhelmed when introducing it to a new environment and as they’re learning about their bowels.
- Recommended Open Air Pen: MidWest Exercise Pen, 30″ minimum height with door
- Recommended Enclosed Pen: ESK COLLECTION Puppy Dog Playpen Exercise Pen Kennel (Perfect for outdoors and camping!)
Dog Toys for Havanese
Your puppy is still a baby, taking in its surroundings and figuring out its senses. Dogs use their mouth to feel around and explore their environment. Help a doggy out by providing her (or him) with some different surfaces to chew on. When redirecting chewing, having surface varieties is helpful.
You can make toys at home, or you can buy some from the store.
I’ve learned over the past 6 months that toys are controversial. What is safe for one dog is not safe for another. No matter which toy you choose, please be responsible and pay attention to how your dog plays with it. If he is chewing pieces off that he shouldn’t, remove the toy and try another one.
Here are some toys that we’ve had success with:
- Chuckit! Ultra Ball (small for starters)
- Kong Cozie, Marvin the Moose
- Mammoth Flossy Chews Monkey Fist Bar, small (up to 24″ works fine, but after that is too heavy)
- KONG Puppy Kong, start with small, upgrade to medium if needed
Rawhide and other toys and chews that splinter can clog your dog’s anal glands and are not considered safe. The Humane Society has a descriptive article on how to pick the best and safest chew toys.
Make your Own Dog Chew Toy
- Throw a sock over an empty water bottle, tie a knot to keep it in. Want it to rattle? Add dried beans or peas.
- Cut out a pocket or a longer strip from an old pair of jeans.
- Use a small length of old rope, tie some knots in it.
- Tie a knot in an old kitchen towel (one of our dog’s favorites)
- Use a sole from an old shoe.
- Avoid toys that break apart or chip when chewed.
Traveling with a Havanese
One reason we purchased a Havanese puppy is so that we could travel and take him along for the ride. Ours loves traveling, and we’re looking forward to taking more trips with him. We have three different setups for car travels: 1) a doggy car seat in our van, 2) a seatbelt clip in our car, and 3) when no seat is available, a carabiner to hook his harness to the seat belt while he sits on a lap.
These solutions all work from ages 10 weeks to 15 years. Choose one, or all three.
Traveling with a puppy in your car
- Option 1, A Car Seat: K&H Manufacturing Bucket Booster Pet Seat, Small or Kurgo Skybox Dog Booster Seat are both great options.
- Option 2, a seat belt with clip: Vastar Adjustable Pet Vehicle Seat Belt
- Option 3, for if pups is on your lap: Use a strong carabiner in combination with a seat belt clip.
- For all options, make sure to use a harness (not a collar) for safety!
Traveling with a puppy in an airplane
The Havanese breed is suitable for airline travel, and with proper gear, they fit under an airline seat. (I think it costs about $100 one way to take your dog on board.)
Sherpa makes the best bags, and it’s worth the extra dough for it. You should avoid traveling with your puppy until he’s completely vaccinated, so you’ll only need this for special use.
- Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier, Medium
Grooming your Havanese & Hygiene
Havanese are hairy dogs. It doesn’t take long for them to turn into walking puff balls. (It’s hilarious when only their legs are wet and the rest of them is still poofy.)
Make no mistake, the longer the hair, the more upkeep needed. Here are some tools that have worked for us, and that we would recommend.
- Recommended brush: Two-sided pin-brush
- Recommended Comb: Homdox Pet Grooming Comb Stainless Steel Lightweight (great for getting out eye boogers)
- Recommended Shampoo: OxGord Organic Oatmeal Dog Shampoo & Conditioner 100% Natural or Tropiclean Hypo Allergenic Pet Shampoo
- Recommended towel: Any towel will do, but the DII Bone Dry Microfiber Towel is extra special.
As strange as it sounds, you should also consider brushing your dog’s teeth. We do for two primary reasons: 1) like humans, their teeth rot, and 2) it keeps their breath from smelling. Also, it can be cute and fun.
- Recommended toothbrush: Pet Republique Dental Hygiene Brushes
- Recommended toothpaste: SENTRY Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs
What about nail clippers? Your Havanese puppy’s nails are soft enough that you can use regular nail clippers on them. There’s no need for expensive dog nail trimmers. Just be careful so that you’re not cutting into the quick (the inner pink part of the nail).
Make grooming time fun with plenty of yummy treats!
Havanese Potty Training
Potty training advice is a dime a dozen. I’ll explain what we did, and then you can make your decision from there.
When your puppy first comes home, start if off with a small living space where it can adjust to its new surroundings.
We laid a waterproof tarp on our floor, and then placed the playpen on top of it. We placed the edges against a corner wall so we could get more space out of it. Our puppy could not scratch or bite through the heavy duty tarp.
We then put his crate, water, and food dishes in one corner, and the potty pad in another. When puppy had an accident, it cleaned up easily.
The Havanese breed (all dogs maybe?) prefer to poop and pee as far away from their beds as possible, so do your best to separate the two by distance.
- Recommended tarp: Super Heavy Duty Tarp
- Recommended pen: MidWest Exercise Pen
- Recommended potty pads: All-Absorb Training Pads
- Recommended potty pad holder: Dogit Training Pad Holder
- Recommended crate: 22″ or 24″ Midwest iCrate
- Recommended urine and crap remover: Pet Stain & Odor Miracle
Once your puppy is ready to venture out into larger areas, or even pee outside, you can train him to ring a bell to let you know it’s potty time.
Give your puppy plenty of praise and rewards for potty-time. We used his favorite and best treats for potty training. Remember that your puppy is already stressed enough with a new environment and learning the potty ropes, punishing him for an accident will only make him more stressed. Positive feedback is always best.
Havanese Training & Puppy Socialization
After weeks of research, I decided to subscribe to The Online Dog Trainer. It’s been awesome, and Doggy Dan knows his stuff. Included with your subscription is over two hundred live training videos, a forum where you can ask Doggy Dan questions, and more. So far, it’s been 100% worth it.
Subscribing to his training website may be the most valuable thing you can do besides socialization. Take the time to start training the right way, and it will save you time, resources, and frustration down the road.
- Recommended Online Training Program: Go to The Online Dog Trainer (With this link, you can start for free!)
- Recommended In-Person Training: Try to find a local chapter of the AKC Training Club
As awesome as Doggy Dan is, your puppy will still need socialization starting around 13 weeks. The American Kennel Club has official clubs around the nation. Here in Utah, there’s one in West Jordan called the Great Salt Lake Dog Training Club. This is where we took Booms, and they were great. Your puppy gets both training and socialization, which helps balance your pup’s temperament and behaviors around other people and dogs.
Havanese Puppy Pet Insurance
If you purchased from a reputable breeder and also performed a post-purchase vet visit, you should know your puppy’s health. If you insure now while there are no pre-existing conditions, you will find the best rate and coverage.
After researching, we decided to enroll with Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. All pet insurance companies had some bad reviews online (nature of the business), but Healthy Paws had far more positive reviews than any other. They are also affordable and their claim submission process is easy.
I have called and emailed a few times, and have always received a response within a reasonable time frame. I’m happy with this choice, and I’m sure you will be too.
- Recommended Pet Insurance: Healthy Paws (Use link for 10% off monthly rate forever.)
The alternative to health insurance is to put a little money aside each month for pet medical emergencies. Some claim that this is less expensive in the long run if you have a healthy Havanese.
Havanese Puppy Vaccinations
Ask your dog’s breeder and veterinarian for advice in this area. Most breeders will start your puppy’s vaccinations before you can pick them up.
The American Kennel Club has a comprehensive vaccinations guide you can use to inform yourself: First-Year Puppy Shots; A Complete Guide.
I hope you find this list helpful. As a first-time dog owner, it shocked me to know how much I needed to buy—not as much as your first kid, but still more than I expected.
Even with the added expenditures, the adventure has been worth it. I’m allergic to cats, dogs, horses, and other animals. Luckily the Havanese breed is hypoallergenic, and so far, I can be around him. The only exception is when he licks my face, it’s cute but ends with me sneezing for the next hour.
I never considered myself a dog person, but now that I have one, it’s wonderful. The gear I’ve listed above has helped make our experience enjoyable. If needed, take some time to do your own research and buy (or not) the equipment that will make worth owning a dog worth it to you.