From the moment you bring your Havanese dog home things are going to change. You are basically bringing home a new member of the family. His rules may be a little different than the rules for some of the two-legged members of the family, but he will let you know very clearly that he considers himself a family member. However, there is one big difference. When you have a Havanese dog, or any dog, you have to do a lot of things to care for him because he can’t do them for himself.
If you’re bringing home a Havanese puppy it’s best to continue feeding what he’s been fed by his breeder for the first few months. Your puppy’s breeder typically has a lot of experience in raising puppies and has chosen a food that she believes is good for your Havanese puppy. After that you can do some research and consult with your breeder to choose an adult food for Havanese dogs. He may not yet be an adult but there are some issues related to skeletal growth that make it a good idea to move away from puppy foods.
Don’t forget to keep fresh, clean water available to your Havanese at all times. Remember to wash your food and water bowls daily.
Havanese dogs are a long-coated breed of dog with a double coat. That means that he needs at least a light grooming every day. It doesn’t have to be a formal grooming session. You can brush him lightly while he’s lying on the sofa next to you. But do brush him daily. Otherwise, his coat can become a tangled mess.
Plan on giving your Havanese dog a bath about once a month or on the rare occasion when he gets into something smelly. According to the Havanese Club of America you should start paying particular attention to your puppy’s legs around nine months when you are bathing him. It’s easy to see how they are shaped when your dog is wet in the bath. If they look bowed or irregularly shaped, you should talk to your breeder or a vet about chondrodysplasia. This is a disorder that involves the growth plates and it can be seen in a dog’s crooked front legs.
You should also clean your dog’s ears weekly and brush his teeth at least weekly — doggy dentists recommend daily brushing. Don’t forget to trim your dog’s nails. You can do this with either a "scissors" nail trimmer, a guillotine-type trimmer, or with a small nail grinder. The important thing is to get your dog used to having his nails trimmed from an early age and to avoid hurting him. Just take a little nail off in each trimming session and give your puppy or dog lots of treats when doing each paw.
Don’t forget the flea and tick care. Flea and tick prevention are much easier now than they once were. Topical flea treatments such as Frontline and Advantage have made it very easy to apply a treatment once and not have to worry about fleas for weeks. There are also products such as Program, Capstar and others for different situations. If you do find a flea, give your Havanese a bath right away. Wash all of his bedding, vacuum your house and dispose of the vacuum bag (which could contain fleas). Treat both your yard and your house with a good flea product.
It’s important to stay current on your Havanese dog’s vaccinations. When you first get your puppy, he should have already received his first and possibly second set of shots. You should continue to follow the schedule that your breeder has laid out for him. If there is any difference of opinion between your breeder and your vet (and sometimes there is), you should ask your breeder to phone your vet and discuss the matter. There are currently a couple of different vaccination protocols for Havanese puppies. Some call for more shots and different shots, some starting giving shots earlier or go on longer. If there is a disagreement between your vet and your breeder, they should work the matter out.
Your dog also needs heartworm prevention. Heartworm is now found throughout the United States, and it is present year-round in many places. Heartgard, Interceptor, Revolution, Sentinel and other products provide good protection for your Havanese dog against heartworm. You can discuss with your vet which product is best for your dog.
Your vet will probably also do a fecal exam on your puppy to see if he has any worms. If he does need worming this is something that is easily taken care of.
After all of his health needs have been met (which can usually be done in just a couple of trips to the vet), your dog will be ready to take over the house. A happy, well-cared for Havanese dog will typically live 14-15 years. Take care of him, see that he gets regular vet care, feed him good food, and be his best friend and those will be wonderful, happy years for both of you.