Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

The Command From Hell – “YOU Stay!”

LOL It’s not as bad as it sounds! I don’t know how this got to be a regular part of our doggie commands, but it’s too late to turn back now! 🙂

I'm not moving until that oven door is CLOSED!

Whenever we want Daisy to sit and stay, that’s what we say – “Sit. Stay.” Nothing unusual there. This is always coupled with and reinforced by hand signals. And she does listen, even if we only use hand signals and say nothing.

I’ve suddenly realized, though, that whenever I mean business, I say, “YOU stay! YOU stay!” Where’d that come from?!

Well, today I remembered where it came from. When Daisy was younger but already understood the “sit” and “stay” commands, I was baking scones. I told Daisy to sit and stay in the doorway of the adjoining family room, which she was doing just fine. I had the oven door open and was pulling out a tray of scones when Miss Daisy decided she wanted to see what I was doing. Into the kitchen she trotted and rounded the corner by the oven just as I had the scone tray halfway out.

I panicked, immediately getting that one-second flash-vision of her burning her tongue or her little nose on the hot, open oven door. Or worse yet, in her typical Daisy-nuttiness, she’d just jump onto the door to get closer to the scone aroma, at least with her front paw.

I screamed, “NO DAISY!!!!” and tried to shove the tray back into the oven and close the oven door to protect her from burning herself….but the scones were on parchment paper and the whole sheet full of 9 scones slid forward into the oven, most of them going directly onto the heat coil (fortunately we replaced that oven not long after – no more coils!).

Well, the parchment immediately started burning, smoke came up from the cranberry-almond scones, the smoke alarm just outside the kitchen door started blaring, and I was yelling, “OH NO OH NO!” over and over.

Is it safe yet?

This scared the living heck out of young impressionable Daisy. I had an hour-long cleanup of scone chunks and crumbs from the kitchen floor, super-hot oven racks and oven door – after my first priority of pulling out flaming parchment without letting it hit the wood floor or me. During that time I know I was shakily muttering, “Oh no. Oh my gosh” and the like, which probably helped to further freak Daisy out, hearing all that distress.

Of course, there was a much longer cleanup inside the oven after it cooled down. Not fun.

Since then, whenever I start to open the oven door (even if the oven isn’t on), Miss Daisy high-tails it out of the kitchen with her ears flying behind her. I decided this was a good thing.

I capitalized on that by saying “YOU stay!” in what DD calls an “accusational voice” while I wanted her out of the kitchen. It’s worked, and when I say “good girl”, she knows it’s safe to come in and she’s going to get a little treat.

But DD pointed out the fact that anytime it’s a “take-me-seriously” situation, I automatically employ the “YOU stay” command emphatically, and I guess Daisy relates it to the Great Oven Incident of 2010, because she listens VERY well! LOL

So who trained whom? Did I unknowingly train her to take that command seriously or did she train me to give her a very firm command when there’s a potentially dangerous situation for her? LOL Either way, at least we understand each other! 😉


Daisy the Sneaky Havachon – More Sofa Wars

Well she’s done it again. I hadn’t been gone from the family room for more than 15 seconds when DD found this….

You'll never find me behind all these comfy blankets!

Daisy The Sneak was at it again. Last time she tried hiding on the couch behind the laundry basket; this time she thought she’d have better luck snuggling in behind a pile of soft fleece blankets.

Frankly, DD hated to make her get down from the sofa – she looked so warm and comfy there! But in the interest of  continuity in her training, she had no choice. We’re trying to get Daisy to understand that she can only come up on our laps when she’s invited and not jump onto the sofas at will. Actually, she does understand, she just chooses not to comply when she thinks she can get away with it!

This saga could run longer than the Rocky series!


The Sofa Wars Continue – Fighting An Uphill Havachon Battle!

We’ve been trying AND trying to train Daisy not to jump up on the sofa on her own – it’s NOT her domain. We’ve been following all the top trainers’ techniques to get her to understand that she can only come up on the sofa with us when we invite her. This, they say, is what well-trained dogs should do.

We’re definitely fighting an uphill battle.

She gets it – oh, she does understand what she’s supposed to do and not do – and she does obey the rules for the most part. But then she gets those particularly stubborn times when I come into the family room and there she is, proud as you please, all nestled in on the love seat.

I have to admit that I almost hate to make her get down from such a comfy spot, but we really don’t want her jumping up there at will or claiming a spot for her own or imposing herself on guests who may not be overly fond of having a dog plop itself in their laps.

And so the battle rages on.

Daisy seems to take more liberties with DD than she does with DH or me, but then again, DD is more of a softie, and Daisy sure does know it! But yesterday, with no one else in the house, I walked into the family room and found what you see in the picture, which broke me into laughter that probably sent the absolute wrong message to our dear little Daisy!

She had nestled herself into a spot next to the laundry basket so that only half her face showed – that eye was watching the doorway like a bank-robber’s lookout – and when she saw me come in, she v-e-r-y slowly pulled her head back as if she could evade my notice. I just couldn’t stop laughing!

So it’s clear that she knows she’s doing the wrong thing, but like any child, she’ll try to get away with it when no one’s looking. As I moved further into the room so she couldn’t hide from me, I quietly said “Down”, and down she went. She knew it was coming, but she just wanted to wait for the absolute command.

Ya gotta love these doggie personalities! Even when they’re naughty they can make us laugh! 🙂


Respecting the Dreaded Pot Lid – A Havachon Tale of Obedience

I had mentioned a while back that our vet suggested we use a whistle to help train Daisy through her more stubborn areas of obedience training. We kept forgetting to buy one, so we started using a pot lid and spoon instead. The idea was to make a sudden, sharp noise that would get her attention and stop her from doing whatever naughty behavior she was doing; then, once we had her attention, we could give her the command and praise her for obeying.

The pot lid and spoon worked like a charm, and we haven’t had to use it for quite a while. Until now.

Daisy’s going through a jumping phase, which I know will become a permanent part of her behavior if we don’t stop it now. Could be puppyish enthusiasm, but it’s probably just part of her exuberant nature;

See? I DO know how to behave when I want to! 🙂

either way, it has to stop. I can’t even count how many homes I’ve gone into where the family dog jumps all over everyone – and this is kind of scary when the dogs are BIG. Then you sit down and they continue to jump, either onto your lap or just in an annoying way where they claw at your arm and side.

Like the Dog Whisperers and Dog Listeners and all the other dog experts say, this can be a sign of dominance and/or anxiety (neither of which is good for the dog), but for humans, it can be just plain annoying when it’s not encouraged by the recipient of all that attention. It can also be damaging to clothing and, if the dog’s nails aren’t clipped, it can leave you with some pretty nasty welts and/or scrapes. Not to mention shedding dog hair!

Daisy jumps on us repeatedly like a bouncing super-ball when we walk into the room; she jumps a foot into the air and against the glass doors when she sees a squirrel or chipmunk outside. And she jumps against the baby gate when someone’s on the other side who she wants to greet, eventually causing the gate to fall with the potential to hurt herself. Her jumping is out of control, and her frenzied state makes her incapable of caring about our commands to stop, let alone even hearing us!

So out came the pot lid again. And once again, it’s working like a charm.

She HATES this thing.

I don’t even have to clang it with the spoon anymore – all I do is take it out – she immediately hears that tiny little metallic sound when I pick it up. She jolts to attention, freezes in place, eyes wide, and then backs off with her eyes fastened on the lid. Since I have her full attention, I give her the NO JUMP command over and over, and then praise her for listening.

It works so fast that after using it a few times in one day, I only had to walk toward it, put my hand on it, and she snaps to attention. Yesterday morning she started her usual jumping and shrieking routine as DD prepared to leave for work, and the minute she saw me pick up the lid, she backed right off and calmed down. I put the lid down and continued to give her the “No jump” and “Quiet” commands, and she stayed quiet and calm. DD took a couple more minutes to leave, which should have thrown Daisy into a frenzy, but it didn’t. She stayed. After DD left, I gave her a treat and praised her more.

Half an hour later, her squirrel buddy started teasing her again. She started her maniac jumping at the glass door, but this time she listened to my “No jump” command without my even having to go near the pot lid.

Today was even better. When DD was getting ready to leave, Daisy started her frantic jumping. I looked at her warningly and just happened to catch her eye – she looked at me, stopped mid-jump, and backed off, quieting down immediately. She stood still and just wagged her tail at DD. After DD left and I praised her, she proudly trotted toward her biscuits and received her prize.

You gotta love good home remedies! 🙂

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Spay Stitches FINALLY Removed!

These last two weeks have seemed like an eternity, first with Daisy’s post-spay suffering, then trying to restrict her movements so she wouldn’t tear her stitches out. Which proved to be an impossible task.

I'm back to my silly, happy self again! Boy, am I glad that's over!

Have you every tried to keep an energetic young puppy calm and subdued? It’s like trying to hold Jello in a clenched fist!

But on Saturday the vet removed those stitches in less than a minute, and now she can go back to her crazy little self. And she wasted NO time in doing so!

We were told to wait two more days before bathing her, so tonight’s the night we get our floral-fresh puppy back. Her full blood work-up showed that she has no genetic health problems, so we’re very relieved to know we have a happy, healthy dog.

Oh yes, and as to her post-spay misbehavior issues – my cousin had a great thought – Daisy could be going through a sort of induced menopause, the type women go through when they have hysterectomies well before menopause sets in. Women who have hysterectomies in their 20s, 30s, and 40s suffer escalated menopausal symptoms after surgery, so why not animals as well?

Our vet and online information say that dogs don’t go through menopause because they don’t have the whole estrogen issue, but we’ve already seen that Daisy experiences things very acutely, so how do we really know what they’re reallyfeeling inside? It’s not like anyone can ask them! Daisy’s behavior seemed to fit many of those same erratic, unpleasant symptoms, and half way through the second week, they lessened all by themselves…a little coincidental, and I’m not a great believer in coincidence. Once we saw the glimmer of her old self, we immediately brought back a full return to Jan Fennell’s discipline techniques, and it only took a couple of days before we got our sweet puppy back!

What do you think? Do you think it’s possible for dogs to feel some kind of symptoms after spaying that are similar to menopause?

Glad that’s all over with!

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Expect the Unexpected – Havachon Secrets

You never know what to expect with any type of puppy you buy, but that’s just part of the fun of getting to know each other! I can’t speak for all breeds of dogs, but there are definitely some unexpected personality and behavioral traits we’ve noticed in our little Havachon puppy so far.


I can't believe I was EVER that little! I looked like a furry caterpillar!


Picture the scene: We first met our little Havanese-Bichon mix when she was about 10 weeks old. She was just a little fluff ball who hadn’t yet found her voice and sat quietly with a shy little expression on her face.

“Havachons are shy dogs,” the shop owner said. “They’ll play when you put them on the floor, but they’re generally very quiet and calm down as soon as you pick them up.”

This was the first Havachon she had dealt with, so what did she know? Nothing, apparently!

We visited our little Havachon in the shop 3 times before taking her home, and no matter what we did, we couldn’t get her to play. The owner assured us that the puppy was active, but not overly so. “She’s a shy, quiet type,” she repeated over and over again.


I'm so big, I take up my whole bed now instead of just a corner!


When we brought our little bundle of fur home a week later, she still had that shy look on her face and didn’t move around much. We were concerned that maybe she had suffered some kind of early trauma that had affected her permanently….WRONG! It didn’t take very long for her to come out of her little frightened shell. Within days, we had a scampering puppy whose shyness was only directed at strangers. Now, that’s gone too!

There isn’t a lot of Havachon information around yet, but what there is states that these dogs are shy – that seems to be the most common descriptive word used about them. Our Havachon is 6 months old now, and there isn’t a shy bone in her body. She greets strangers with enthusiasm, seeks out new “adventures” without hesitation, and uses that voice she found with gusto. Shyness is a thing of the past. We now have a puppy who’s very loving, very sweet, and lots of fun to be around. Of all the descriptive words people use about her, “sweet” and “happy” are the most common ones. Lesson learned: Dogs don’t follow scripts; they’re as individual as we are, and what we put into them affects who they become.

“Havachons train fast – in a week, we got her completely trained on the wee-wee pad.” Wow, that shop owner didn’t know these puppies at all! It’s taken the better part of 6 months to get her to be consistent, which I now understand is common – actually, most owners of small dogs, including the Havanese and Bichon owners I’ve talked to, say that consistency took them about a year.

Daisy led us to believe she was trained after we were working on it for a week; the second week was perfect. Then came the slip-ups, the outright refusals to go on the pad, and a back-and-forth period. Now we seem to have reached a completely consistent routine, and all’s right with the world again. 🙂 Lesson learned: Don’t expect that first sign of perfection to mean the training period is over.

Havachons are smart and like to copy their owners. Daisy studies us at work, play, and rest – you can see that little mind working – and after a few months of watching us at mealtime, she started sitting down when eating her own


Everyone else sits when they eat, so I will too!


breakfast and dinner! She also takes many cues from us when it comes to dealing with new situations. Lesson learned: Be careful what kind of behaviors and attitudes you model, your puppy will pick up on them!

Havachons also like to tower over their environments and survey their territory. I swear, if she had a perch near the ceiling, she’d find a way to get to it, and it would be her favorite spot! For the first few months, when we’d pick Daisy up and put her on our laps, she’d just curl up and enjoy being stroked. Recently, she started standing on our laps, then sitting tall while slowly overlooking every foot of the room, one bit at a time. “It’s my domain,” she seems to say, “I have to make sure everything’s okay.” Only after she studies the room for a while does she finally cuddle up and nap. From those first few months, we expected a dog who was only interested in cuddling, but there’s much more to her than that!

Lesson learned: Puppies evolve as they grow, just like children. They’ll change over time – especially breeds with stronger personalities and genetics – and we need to be flexible enough to give them the space to come into their own without letting them rule the roost!

I’m sure we’ll learn more and more about this new breed as the months and years go by – it keeps things interesting!


Regression and Progression

Boy, did we get a dose of it. That awful, frustrating thing that happens to some dogs – regression. Ugh.

I've been a baaad puppy.....

A couple weeks ago, Daisy suddenly started having accidents in the house off her wee-wee pad. But the weird thing is that it was only in the morning, not during the rest of the day.

Once the first week of housebreaking training passed, she was 90% accurate. After the second week, she was 100%…until this. All of a sudden out of nowhere she started just going wherever she wanted to in the morning. It’s not like she’s bursting and can’t make it to the pad, she says her “hellos” and wanders around and while DD is putting Daisy’s breakfast in her bowl….it happens.

The experts all say this isn’t unusual and to just start retraining all over again, so even though it’s not a complete regression, we went “back to basics” and watched her like she was the last morsel at a beggar’s banquet. If we saw signs of impending poop, we picked her up and put her on the pad. If she peed off-pad, she was put in the “naughty room” (aka laundry room). And if she somehow pooped without us seeing it, we scooped it up and dropped it openly on the pad, saying “Poop on potty” over and over while she watched intently. We must have sounded like lunatics; thank God we’re not in an apartment or a duplex!

It was one frustrating week, but thankfully it’s passed.

They say regression can happen if a new puppy or new family member is brought into a home where another dog already lives, but we certainly didn’t do that. She hasn’t been in a kennel (we’re so dreading that) , wasn’t being left alone too much,and if she was trying to claim leadership status, it certainly failed.

She’s back on track now and along with that, we’re seeing some other signs of maturing as well. She listens better, even when tempted by a fallen bit of food or tempting object. If we say “no”, she backs right off and just stares at the temption.  If she tries to nip playfully and we say “no bite”, she just licks us like crazy.

SO glad to have that behind us, that was one frustrating week!

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An “Edgy” Sort of Puppy…

We’ve trained Daisy to use the wee-wee pad as well as to go outdoors because we know we’re going to hate the idea of taking her out in the rain, especially in cold weather. She’s completely consistent with both, so we feel like we have the best of both worlds in that area. But boy, does she do some funny things when it comes to the wee-wee pad…..

For one thing, she only uses the extreme corner edges of the pad. Rarely anything in the big, open center; instead, she goes to a corner edge and piddles there. Sometimes she saves up enough to go twice, but she always walks to another corner to do more. See what I mean by “edgy”? And although her instincts tell her to sniff her pee, she does so with great distaste. It’s like Nature forces her to do this, but she takes two short sniffs and then backs off with her ears up and a look of disgust, as if to say, “That did NOT come from me!”

Yesterday she brought one of her toys onto a clean pad with her and dropped it in a corner. The pad has a special “housing” it sits in- a hard plastic surface with three low walls. After taking care of business in a different corner, she wandered off the pad without her toy. Realizing her forgetfulness, she went back to the pad and stood at the edge where she’d piddled. Instead of walking around the piddle, which only took up a small area, she approached it and then backed off, ears at attention, clearly trying to figure out how to get around this moist mess of hers.

She took a step into it, then backed off like she just couldn’t bring herself to walk on her own water, even for one of her favorite toys. She stared at it a bit longer, then suddenly decided to take the plunge – the toy simply must be rescued. She put both front paws into the piddle spot, then lifted both back legs into the air until she was in a handstand position, and took a couple steps that way toward the toy! She lost her balance, though, and landed in the dreaded piddle-spot with her back feet. She rescued the toy, but little did she expect that in the next second, she’d be whisked away to her tub for an impromptu foot bath to get any residual piddle off her. That plan sure did backfire on her!

Oh yeah, and when she’s bored and has nothing better to do, she loves to sniff around the edges of each room, inch by inch, corner to corner….that’s one “edgy” dog!

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Jan Fennell is a Training GENIUS!

One thing we learned very quickly about our little Havachon – she’s as challenging as she is cute. After all, she’s descended from two breeds known to be smart, and she picked up every last one of those genes. If you ask me, she’s a little TOO smart – outsmarting us at every turn seems to be her forte. Sometimes you can practically see those wheels turning in her head as she assesses a situation and decides on her response!

Jan Fennell’s training is based on a simple theory – become the Alpha leader in your home. Makes sense, right? Jan studied dogs in the wild to see what traits Alphas exhibited that kept the rest of the pack in line, then translated those lessons into human-to-dog relationship training. Completely non-violent, no hitting, pushing, or yelling involved. Sounded excellent and worth a try.

Our little puppy thought she was queen of the land. Although she could be sweet, shy, and loving, she could also be demanding, hyper, and nippy. We were already frazzled to the core after only having her three weeks – among other things, she absolutely refused to use the wee-wee training pads; when we’d lead her to the pad every 20 minutes (all the experts said this should have her trained within a week for the most part), she’d sniff around, walk off the pad, and look us straight in the eye as she peed and pooped all over the carpet. Very deliberate. And that stubbornness overflowed into other behaviors as well. We thought she might be untrainable, but Jan says that no dog is untrainable and she’s worked with seriously scary dogs!

The next weekend we took a pile of dog training books and CDs out of the library and went hard-core studying them all so we could implement some form of training and get our little monster under control. Among all of the experts, we found Jan Fennell’s techniques the best and most logical, and we also liked the fact that the result would be a respectful dog, not one who is always in a state of submission like Cesar Milan touts. I’m sure his outcome is great for many people, but it wasn’t for us. We also found Paul Owens’s CD good for teaching things like stay, sit, down, heel, etc. to be a wonderful visual accompaniment using a fun technique, so we narrowed our methods down to those two. First, though, before any command training, we needed to for Daisy to accept us as Alpha leaders and to trust us implicitly.

I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference Jan’s techniques made in our pooch. We used her book, The Dog Listener, like a daily Bible of Dog Training, referring to it every time we needed assistance with some new type of rebellious behavior Daisy tried. Immediately, we could see that the difference in our behavior toward her was having an impact. We did make some minor adjustments in consideration of the fact that we were dealing with a young pup and not a grown dog, but those were very minor adjustments.

The most important aspect of her book, I think, is that it taught us the workings of the dog mind so that we could understand better why Daisy was acting the way she was and also how she was interpreting our responses to her actions. VERY big differences in how the dog mind processes things from the way the human mind works! This helped us deal with any new challenges she threw our way. With serious adherence to Jan’s techniques, we now have a wonderfully respectful, loving puppy who responds to our commands and behaves very well. And Paul Owens’s techniques have her sitting, staying, and lying down by hand signals alone – that worked immediately as well.

Of course, Daisy is a 4-month old puppy, so she’s still testing here and there and tries to get around us sometimes, but because Jan’s method laid the groundwork of establishing a hierarchy, she realizes very quickly from our response to her misbehaviors that her little rebellious attempts aren’t going to work. And we learned that consistency is key in maintaining the right balance in our human-to-dog relationship. 🙂

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“What’s a Havachon?”

That’s the first thing people ask when we say we have a Havachon puppy. Havachons are a relatively new mix of Havanese and Bichon, and they generally grow to all of 10-12 pounds. She’s our first small dog and as we’ve come to find out, with small dogs come BIG responsibilities!

There’s precious little information anywhere about Havachons because they’re such a new mix, so we’re inching our way along with training and personality traits. LOTS of fun and plenty of challenges too, but she’s so darned cute, it’s worth it!

Funny stories, crazy moments, nutty personality traits, and training techniques that work and don’t work with this little bundle of fur – that’s what you’ll find here.  🙂

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