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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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Introducing Mucho (long post!)

Hello! We got our male havanese puppy 3 weeks ago, at 8 weeks of age. You can see a photo gallery of him here: (no recent pics, those were all taken during breeder visits).

We were so lucky to be within 30 minutes of driving distance of the breeder - we visited weekly before he was even born.

He fit in to our home very quickly - he doesn't cry at all at nights in his crate, housebreaking has progressed rapidly, he hasn't destroyed anything (yet!), we've been socializing him a lot with people, places etc.

It is my first dog so I have a few worries and questions I'd like to get some feedback on. I didn't find anything relevant on the forum, because most of you lucky people have a yard, while we live in a 4th floor flat (very common in greece).

1. Housebreaking - we are confining Mucho to one half of the living room, where we spend all our time these days. We have puppy pads on the balcony, separated via a glass sliding door. When he wants to pee/poop he will go and stand by the door and look back at us, we'll get up and open, he'll go out and do his business on the pad - that's great! However, if we are not in the room he will stay there silent and sometimes he can't hold it and goes right there (poor guy!). We tried hanging a bell but he got very confused so we removed it. Is there anything else we can try? He definitely *wants* to go out, but has no way to alert us.

2. Housebreaking 2 - our vet said that it's going to be another 2 months (!) before he can venture outside to do his business. There are a lot of strays (cats and dogs) in Greece so that makes sense. However I am worried about the transition from going on the pad whenever he likes vs holding it in until we get him outside.

3. Playing - again, the no-going-out decree from the vet has us confined in the house for playtime. We haven't put the carpets down yet (and probably won't for another couple of months until we are confident there won't be accidents). We have tile floor that is quite slippery - he does run like hell sometimes but you can see it frustrates him. We are trimming the hair under the paws to help him, but it's not enough. We play fetch (he doesn't actually bring the toy back to us, but he goes to a couple of specific places and tries to "kill it"), a bit of tug, sometimes put his morning meal in kongs and a puzzle ball. I can't help though thinking that he has extra energy to burn off. We visited his breeder last week and he was running out in the yard non-stop with another puppy there (old friends!). Are there any other energetic games we can play indoors?

4. Alone time - I work from home, and my girlfriend works out of the home only part time, so Mucho hasn't been alone yet for more than 5 minutes (we did a little experiment). He is very attached to us - just now he whimpered because I went to the bathroom and he got stuck in the living room. We plan to start leaving him alone in the house for small amounts of time to work up to 2-3 hours. I'd like to really confine him in his pen properly and not in the living room because he really likes chewing the sofa, and there a lot of exposed cables that he could chew during a stressful time (he doesn't care for them now). Any tips on how to best do that?

5. Alone time 2 - Again, working from home has advantages - I don't think we could get housetraining/accident rate that good if we left him alone - but sometimes I really need to settle down and work on the laptop. Of course Mucho doesn't really like that and he tries to get my attention (mostly by chewing the sofa). Eventually after some play he goes to sleep (he sleeps right now next to my feet) and I can then work. Are there any tips on how to get him to settle down? He has a lot of toys but he loses interest after 5-10 minutes and goes back to trying to get my attention.

Phew! That was a long post. Thanks for reaching to the end!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 03:31 AM Thread Starter
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A follow up about training:

We have taught Mucho his name, "come", "sit", "down", "wait/get it". That about the extent of it. It's not of course 100% reliable - when he finds something interesting (like a potted plant, or a really good session of toy games) he ignores everything.

Is there a suggested schedule/progression of puppy training? I've seen a lot of resources out there that tell you how to teach things to your dog, but nothing that spells out a reasonable schedule for a young puppy.

Sometimes Mucho just isn't interested enough anyway to respond to us. He is either mid-play session, when it is hard to make him do things, or he is just lying down, and decides he'd rather stay down than perform. He responds to treats (actually his kibble) reasonably well, but since he is well-fed sometimes he just ignores us.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 05:18 AM
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First of all, Mucho is very VERY cute and welcome!

1) Can you leave the balcony door open a peep?
2) Could you put one of those grass patches on your balcony so he understands the textures of grass versus pads for when he goes outside?
3) How far are you from your breeder? Or do you have a friend you could have a puppy playdate with? Just to keep him socialized from a dog perspective. I bought the Kong Chase-It wand (

) and I use it at the end of the day if it's been one of those days where I haven't given Ludo enough stimulation. I do not play with it with him otherwise. So maybe you could hide one special toy, use it only at night, and make sure you exhaust him with it.
4 and 5) I'm having this problem, too. I have too be very vigilant about rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad. When Ludo leaps and barks at me when I'm at my desk I ignore him. The moment he stops and lays down, I give him a treat. Mucho will get used to leaving you alone once he understands the routine. I, too, wonder if it's a blessing or a curse that Ludo hasn't had to be alone much since I'm always home. I make up errands (and my checkbook has been paying the price... grin) so that he is alone.

Okay. I have two book recommendations (one I got from someone here) - The Focused Puppy (discusses ages and stages, too, in regard to your 2nd post) and Good Owners, Great Dogs. I got a lot from both of them.

Do you have puppy schools in Greece? You could get training under his belt and socialize him at the same time. I would assume the vaccination requirements would apply there and you could know Mucho would be safe in a class.

Sorry for the disorganized answer... Early here!

Traci & Ludo


The dog becomes your dream come true, the very thing you wanted.
- Maurice Sendack

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 06:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Traci! Ludo looks so cute!

1. Luckily, as long as it's warm enough (hooray for Greek climate!) we can leave the balcony door open (hopefully for another couple of weeks). However he does love to wander around there and nibble the plants (nothing toxic, just a habit I'd like to minimise). But I'd really like to train him to hold it just a bit longer every time.

2. Actually, he knows about grass from his breeder. However we don't generally have much grass in Greece - it needs a huge amount of water in the summer months and it doesn't stay around much. I could put some dirt though in a litter box. That does seem like an overkill though. And it would definitely stink very very quickly.

3. OMG that thing is amazing! I just made a make-shift one by tying one of his toys to a long stick and he just *loves* chasing it around. I am worried about him running so much on a slippery floor though. I might put in some throwaway cheap carpet in this area so he can run and I won't stress much if he pees on it.

We are 30 minutes away from his breeder, and we can visit as often as we want - she *loves* keeping tabs on her puppies. Weekends of course are most convenient for everyone. I'll search around for puppy classes. He is very well socialized with dogs though as he grew up with 8 dogs, including some golden retrievers.

Thanks for the books, I'll have a look. I already have ordered a couple of Gwen Bailey's, still waiting for them though. I've read Ian Dunbar's free ones.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 08:11 AM
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Welcome to you both!

Very very cute puppy you have. You definitely seem like you are heading in the right direction. Traci gave some great advice and since I'm new myself I'm not going to add to it other then say not to worry about sliding on the tile floor.
My pup Colbie is 11 weeks tomorrow and our kitchen is tiled and she runs like hell across it every day. She slides a little, and once in a while bops into a gate or a chair leg but she knows to put the brakes on when she needs to.


Ron (and Colbie and Scarlett)
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 08:28 AM
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Mucho is adorable! I loved all your pictures.

I had the same situation and I think training alone time is more difficult when you work from home. I have one delicious treat that they only get when I am leaving so it is special and they look forward to it. The "going out" treat takes them long enough to eat that it distracts them for the minute it takes me to get out the door. I think this routine helps them to know what to expect. It is smart to start with a few minutes and build up slowly.

Welcome and congratulations on your new puppy!

Julie, Piper and Riley

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet. ~Edith Wharton
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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That's a good idea - what kind of treat is that?

I haven't used any treats yet, just his kibble for lures/rewards. I hope once I get some treats he'll *really* like them.

I have a couple of small kongs here, but he either figures them out really fast (if I put just his kibble in) or he loses interest (if I put moist canned food in).

I have a small hollow ball with a maze-like interior that he has to really knock around to get kibble out. I wonder if something similar but more difficult would occupy him when I leave.

I don't really have a problem when I'm home - he does settle down with his toys. I would just like to setup a ritual of sorts, when I *really* need to focus.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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ColbyBlue: He does run like hell all around the tiled floor, turns and brakes just fine! - I'm just worried about possible joint/platelet (is that the correct word?) damage. I've read the you shouldn't overexercise puppies in the first place.

He is rather large for his age (already more than 3 kilos - that's almost 7 pounds! - probably a side effect of being just two pups in a litter, as his parents are rather slender/short), but I don't know if that's good or bad for this case.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 10:12 AM
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When I am leaving Archie, I give him a kong with either a couple of dabs of cream cheese or peanut butter. While he knows I am leaving, he does look forward to his treat! I believe he mostly sleeps while I am gone because sometimes he is still in his crate (door left open) when I return.

Janet and Archie
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-11-2013, 10:15 AM
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I put a little piece of freeze-dried beef liver in the base of the kongs (super high value for my pup) then stuff with moistened kibble. Sometimes I'll top them off with a little plain yogurt or peanut butter. I make a batch of 6 at a time and freeze (I didn't freeze initially when she was less experienced with them). Sometimes I might add pumpkin or chopped fruit to the kibble mix. Zelda gets one when we leave the house and it keeps her happy. I also sometimes leave her with a ball full of her dinner kibble if I'm going out in the evening.

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Zelda Violet, born March 2013
Mom: Katherine
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