While we can never predict the exact temperament of any individual dog, there are general patterns that are predictable for each breed. Out of all of the Pedigrees out there, the Havanese is probably one of the best suited to being around children.
Havanese are usually great with kids. They are fun-loving, easy-going, and love to play. Children tend to love their teddy bear appearance and most find them non-threatening. They are a great breed to help children get used to dogs or to get over a pre-existing fear of them.
Are Havanese dogs good with kids?
Most Havanese dogs will be good with children. However, this is not a personality trait that should be relied upon and there is always the risk of any dog snapping at a child. We need to put time into their socialization and training to ensure they are tolerant of any kids within the home.
If we become complacent and don’t spend time exposing our Havanese to children from a young age, ensuring the experiences are positive, we may end up with a fearful or reactive dog.
As the Havenese is smart and quick to learn, even the children in the home can participate actively in their training. They can teach them new tricks and commands, ensuring a tight relationship is formed. Not only do children love to play an active role in training, it helps to teach them responsibility.
General temperament of Havanese dogs
- A gentle soul. As a general rule of thumb, Havanese dogs make excellent companions for children and are a good choice for young families. They are naturally kind and gentle around babies and young children and will bond strongly to all family members.
- Easy-going and slow to anger. Unlike other breeds, they don’t tend to become territorial or defensive around their family and aren’t known for their resource guarding. This makes aggression less likely.
- Active little guys. The Havanese is an active little dog that will always say yes to a game. Curious and energetic, they are great fun to be around. As they are naturally inquisitive, you may find they are always getting into things they shouldn’t and playing with toys that aren’t theirs. Those with young children may find that they need to keep baby toys in a box and other items behind closed doors and play pens!
- Affection seekers. The Havanese is quite happy to be doted on and cuddled. They are affectionate and loving. They may choose one person (their ‘primary’ person) to cuddle with each night, though they are usually happy to chop and change. This is especially true if their ‘favourite’ is not home for the evening.
Things that parents should be aware of
We must not assume that a dog should instinctively ‘know’ how to act around children. We need to teach them what is expected of them and set firm boundaries from a young age.
Though the Havanese is a naturally mild-mannered dog that is well-behaved around children, it is always important to supervise contact.
- Importantly, children need to be taught about canine body language. If your Havanese is asking for space by cowering away, lowering their ears or looking up with wide ‘saucer’ eyes, your child should know to leave them alone.
- Similarly, children must be aware that while Havanese dogs may look like little teddy bears, they are sentient beings that should be treated like dogs. This means they shouldn’t ever pick them up, push them around or rough house with them.
- Remember the old adage ‘Let sleeping dogs lie?’. Even the chilled out Havanese could become grumpy if woken up from a deep sleep or a cat nap. Teach your child the importance of letting their dog sleep when it needs to.
- Children must be taught the importance of not taking food from the dog and of giving them space at meal times. If a Havanese constantly has their food snatched away or is being stood over and pulled at when eating, they may become aggressive around food or start to gobble it up too quickly.
- The Havanese deserves some ‘down time’ from time to time. This may mean a relaxed lie down or time alone in their crate with a delicious stuffed Kong. It’s important we make our kids aware that dogs may not always want to play.
Why Havanese dogs are great for kids
The bones of the Havanese are robust, especially compared to more delicate dogs their size. They are sturdy and well-muscled, so are a resilient small breed. This is another reason why they make such good family pets. When living with young children, accidents are almost inevitable. However, stepping on the paw of the Havanese or accidentally knocking into them, should hopefully be well tolerated.
If your child already has another pet, such as a cat, Havanese dogs tend to fit right in. They don’t have a strong prey drive and should leave any existing pets in peace. They are relaxed in the company of other animals and don’t have an innate desire to run after them.
Older children can take an active role when it comes to exercising the Havanese and should be well able to safely hold their lead. Most children love to be given this responsibility and the Havanese will enjoy having several people who are able to walk them. This is not something that is typically possible with larger or stronger dogs.
Making sure your Havanese dog’s basic needs are met and fostering good behaviour
A happy dog is one who is more likely to get on with all family member and to be relaxed and trustworthy. A Havanese dog, like any other, has basic needs which must be met on any given day. This includes
- Providing ample food and water
- Keeping them healthy with preventative veterinary medicine (such as vaccines and wormer)
- Providing regular vet checks. This should be done annually when younger and twice a year or more for the senior Havanese
- Exercising them sufficiently and keeping them mentally engaged and stimulated
- At least 30 minutes of outdoor time each day so they can meet other dogs and explore
- Diagnosing any behavioural issues and addressing them early on
When the Havanese does not get enough exercise, they may be boisterous with the children and might find it hard to relax and settle when indoors.
Similarly, if they’re not kept engaged with lots of brain games and training, their frustration may turn to naughty and destructive behavior. Bored Havanese dogs may chew furniture, steal socks and become all round mischief-makers.
While you may be used to seeing well-trained Havanese dogs in the local park or at friend’s houses, it would be foolish to assume that this is an inevitability. All owners must spend time on their dog’s training and socialization as soon as they take them home. This isn’t something that is done for a few months and then stopped, it is a lifelong endeavor.
It is vital that the Havanese is not left to their own devices for a prolonged amount of time. This can cause them distress and can make them prone to anxiety. If your schedule means they are left alone for a long time, consider hiring a dog walker or sending them to doggy daycare.
Downsides to the Havanese with kids?
There are several factors that may make a young family reconsider a Havanese
- They can take a while to house train. Finding ‘accidents’ around the house is even more worrying if there are crawling babies or toddlers at home.
- The Havanese is known to suffer from separation anxiety, which can become problematic if they need to be left alone. For parents who are constantly popping in and out on the school run or to different activities, this may pose a challenge.
- Some Havanese dogs will be shy around new people so may find it hard to cope if you are always having guests around. However, good socialisation during puppyhood can go a long way towards preventing this.
The Bottom Line
Deciding which breed of dog is right for your family is never a decision that should be taken lightly. You will have specific prerequisites and it is important to do your research ahead of time. The Havanese tends to be very tolerant of children and is unlikely to be snappy or aggressive. They have patience and, despite their small size, are sturdy little dogs.