Havanese dogs are toy dogs and, if you know anything about toy dogs, they generally have the reputation of being feisty little creatures that don’t respond so well to discipline. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however, and any dog can be impossible to train if you as the owner aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to teach them.

In fact, the people-pleasing temperament of Havanese dogs does put you in a better situation than those trying to train other toy dog breeds, but it’ll still take time and commitment on your part. Potty training them is also the most difficult thing you can train them in, simply because their bladders are so small that they struggle to control their movements.

With all of that in mind, we’ll be going through which factors can make a dog less likely to take in any of your training attempts. Then we’ll talk through what you can do as an owner to improve your training technique. Between knowing what to avoid and honing your teaching methods, your pooch should be doing its business where it should in no time.

What to avoid

Dogs from confined spaces

Let’s start with the earliest and most damaging part of potty training that you should be avoiding, and that’s your choice of dog. It may seem callous but, if you haven’t got the dog yet and know that it’s been raised in confined conditions, then it’s going to be much, much harder to train them. They’ll have already been conditioned to eat, poo, and pee in the same places, effectively ending your potty-training dreams before they even began.

If you do knowingly get a Havanese that has been raised this way, know that you’re fighting an uphill battle that you’re unlikely to win. Instead, you’re better off focusing on how to mitigate your dog’s bad habits instead of getting rid of them entirely.

Carrying your dog

Part of why toy dogs can be difficult to train is actually because of the owner. Being so small, it’s tempting to pick your dog up as much as possible, whether it’s for cuddles or to get them where they need to go faster. Both of these will stop any potty-training progress you had previously made.

Your Havanese should get into the habit of walking to their designated potty area, so picking them up and taking them there is counterintuitive to what you’re trying to achieve. It’ll be harder for them to learn where to go when you’re taking them there yourself. Then, once they are starting to get the hang of it, you want to avoid fussing them too much. Why? Because by keeping your dog on the floor, they’ll better learn to communicate when they want to go potty, whereas constant cuddles will be a distraction that actually un-trains this positive behavior out of them.

Feeding your dog too much

We’ve already mentioned how Havanese bladders are very small, so they struggle to control themselves. You can avoid accidents by watching how much you give your Havanese to eat and drink. Still make sure they get their daily fill of food, just give it to them in a number of smaller meals so they find it easier to control.

Then, a few hours before bedtime, you should avoid giving them any food and maybe even water, since this will reduce how many night-time accidents they have. If them having these accidents becomes a habit, then they’re going to be harder to train.

Letting your dog roam

Following on from the previous tips, whilst your dog should spend more time on the floor than they do in your arms, letting them roam your house freely during their early years will make potty training them a lot harder. There are a few methods that’ll keep them by your side, or otherwise get them to stay in the same area of your house without wandering off, at least until they’re old enough and better trained. See some of those methods below.

How to train your Havanese

Before we get into some of the things you should be doing to better train your Havanese puppy, it should be said that the process will be a time consuming one that takes approximately six to eight months.

This is roughly how long it’ll take for your puppy’s bladder and bowels to stop developing, meaning your dog will have more control over themselves. It also gives them ample time to mentally grasp what they’re supposed to do when they go to the toilet.

This time frame means you’ll have to exercise patience to be an effective trainer. Potty training generally takes longer when compared to other training types and, as we’ve mentioned, Havanese dogs, in particular, are more difficult to potty train. All that patience will pay off in the end though, when your adorable puppy is comfortable in the home and knows where they should do their business.

Use leashes

Using leashes is a great way to both keep your dog from wandering whilst training it to be comfortable on the floor. We recommend you get a four-foot leash and a leash that’s longer than five feet. You can use the shorter one inside to keep the dog near you most of the time, whereas the longer leash should be used outside when the dog goes to the potty. A retractable leash that’s capable of doing both is handy if you know how to use it.

When you have the leash, never tie it to any object. You should always be with your dog and undistracted when you have your dog on a leash. Also, don’t let the leash go, otherwise your Havanese can wander around with the leash trailing behind it. A good suggestion for keeping your hands free whilst still having your puppy leashed is to tie your end around your waist. The use of the short leash is to stop them from wandering, getting a feel for your home, and choosing its own designated potty spot. 

Use a cage

You can put your dog in a cage or a crate in a way that’s comfortable and beneficial to their early development and training. You obviously want to get as spacious a cage as possible, so your dog stays comfortable. You should have a puppy pad in the cage for them to do their business in, but this should only be for use in the nights when they’re sleeping in their bed. That puppy pad should also be kept at the opposite end of the cage, as far away from the dog bed as is feasible.

You shouldn’t make a habit of leaving your Havanese in the cage for extended periods of time. Leaving your awake Havanese in the cage should only be done when you’re showering or otherwise can’t keep the dog by your side on its leash. 

Use a litter box

If you live in the city or a high-rise building where getting your Havanese outside is more difficult, you have the option of using a litter box for potty training. Get the same supplies you would for a larger cat and, once you have the litter box set up, you should keep it very clean so that your puppy is encouraged to use it. 

Use a bell

You may have some luck using a bell to potty train your Havanese puppy. You do this by getting any resonant bell and having it near the doorway to your backyard, within reach of your puppy. That way, you can train them to paw at this bell and alert you of the fact that they want to go potty.

Watch for signs

By this, we mean you should be keeping a close eye on your dog and learning how they’ll communicate when they need to go potty. Once they do, bring them to their designated spot. As said above, make sure you walk them there instead of carrying them otherwise they won’t get used to physically walking to the designated pooping spot themselves, and so will reject your training to go potty there. 

Keep a schedule

When you take the dog out, try to do so in a schedule that the dog will learn and get used to. This will make it much easier to memorize where and when the dog should go potty, forming a positive habit that’ll potty train your Havanese even faster. Havanese are quite smart and will tend to catch onto these patterns of behavior. 

Offer praise

Once your dog has done its business in the way you want them to, you need to put the positive into positive reinforcement. You do this by showering your dog in praise and offering them things they crave and enjoy, like their favorite treats or some lap time. If you’re doing it right then your dog will learn that they get these nice treats whenever they go potty outside, encouraging them to do that in the future and throughout the rest of their lives.