Puppy Culture

 We have been performing Early Neurological Stimulation, otherwise called E.N.S. or the Bio Sensor / “Super Dog” Program since we started breeding. Once the work of the military, noted breeder, author, lecturer and researcher, Dr. Carmen Battaglia is the main driving force behind why many breeders now know of this program. GoldenQuest is excited to announce we now incorporate Jane Lindquist’s “Puppy Culture” socialization methods as a preliminary training for all our puppies.

These programs help allow our puppies to get off to a better start in life through sound desensitization, socialization, clicker conditioning, and much more. The goal in adding these programs to our breeding protocol is to stand by our motto of Making the world a better place, one dog at a time, because the various exercises found in the programs help condition your new puppy to have better startle recovery, be curious rather than unsure of new objects as well as people, teach them how to learn so that training is smoother and to allow for an overall easier transition to their new life with you.

Each exercise is conducted with each individual puppy by our awesome team! Below the programs are described in more detail for you to learn just what it is that your puppy goes through before coming home to you.

Early Neurological Stimulation

As previous scientific research has proven, early stimulation exercises can have positive impacts long-term on a variety of species. While there is no specific amount of time that is stated to be optimal, some amounts can be too much and cause pathological adversities. The military began this early stimulation program and saw important, lasting results with their dogs.

With Early Neurological Stimulation (hereafter ENS), exercises begin at day three of life until day sixteen as this interval of time is believed to be a time of rapid neurological development and growth. There are five exercises which are conducted on each individual puppy for 3 – 5 seconds each.

  • Head held erect
  • Head pointed down
  • Tactile stimulation
  • Supine position
  • Thermal stimulation

At GoldenQuest we have added an additional exercise where we cuddle the puppy individually for 3 – 5 minutes. These exercises produce neurological stimulation that would not occur naturally until much later in their lives. They do not get repeated more than once a day, so we do not overload the puppy.

Dogs that received ENS as puppies had:

  • Stronger adrenal glands
  • Higher tolerance of stress
  • Greater resistance to disease
  • Stronger heart beats
  • Improved cardio vascular performance

To learn more about ENS, read Dr. Carmen Battaglia’s article on his website here.

Also check out this clip from Puppy Culture to see how the different ENS exercises are performed.

GoldenQuest’s Puppy Culture

Our Puppy Culture (hereafter called PC) protocol is considered during the breeding process through a multitude of variables but truly begins with the Prenatal care.

Momma dogs that are planning to whelp with us come to GoldenQuest when they are 6 weeks along; they get suites to themselves that has a whelping area to nest throughout pregnancy, some toys to chew and plentiful amounts of food. Twice daily they get walks out along the country acreage as well as two daily mommy massages, which we call “Tummy Time,” that are ten minutes each. This not only helps relax the pregnant dog but also allows her to build a bond with our staff. Studies have also shown that moms that receive “Tummy Time” have puppies that show enhanced cerebral development and there has bee a correlation found between tactile stimulation and positive temperament skills.

During the Neonatal stage, newborn to 2 weeks old, puppies begin their Early Neurological Stimulation (described above) which keeps up throughout this phase of growth and into the next. Body handling is a key component to conditioning the puppies to be comfortable with not only being held but also having different extremities manipulated so ideally they will be more comfortable at Veterinary appointments as well as with children. Near the end of this stage begins new object introduction to the puppies everyday; anything from pots/pans to children’s toys. Introducing various objects at such a young age helps to foster curiosity and comfortably with changes so that the puppies learn to adjust as their environments alter over time.

As the Transitional stage comes into view, from 2 weeks until 21 days of age, when the puppies gain their sight then ends when they begin hearing. While continuing the the three components from the Neonatal stage, puppies start receiving separation from litter/mother so they learn to feel at ease with humans and also to diminish their likelihood for developing separation anxiety when older. Since ENS ends on day 16 of life, the puppies get increased body handling and tactile stimulation.

The next stage is labeled as the Socialization stage and continues until the critical period closes at about 14 to 16 weeks of age.

With ears opening at 3 weeks, the puppies are introduced to sharp sounds. Puppies aren’t born with a fear response so starting sounds at this impressionable age allows us to manipulate this positively by building up good their startle recovery so they aren’t fearful of noises as easily down the road. Separation from litter/mom, body handling, socializing with people and new object introduction continues throughout this growth period.

Beginning at week 4, our puppy start building a conditioned emotional response (or CER) to the clicker. Using syringes filled with yogurt, they gain a reward history to the clicker which aides us in many avenues. To learn about the benefits of the clicker go here! We utilize the clicker for recall (“come”), the box game (explained later), eye contact, sitting (rather than jumping) for attention, and for marking ideal behavior in-general. Using the clicker as a marker starting at such a young age is wonderful because it can allow for the puppy to more easily transition to their family and training once they are ready to go home.

Resource guarding prevention is another protocol we added to our list of additions in our Puppy Culture program. Due to resource guarding being a common problem we have tried to do our part in helping create a CER within the puppies that says humans coming towards “your” toys or food, etc is not a bad thing but rather a good thing.Why we work on the list of behaviors, with the clicker that we do, is for a few various reasons: Recall is one of the most important commands any canine can learn because sometimes it can save lives. Teaching your puppy starting at 4 weeks to run to people and they get rewarded sets a great foundation that you can continue to build upon at home so that you won’t have to worry about your puppy taking off but rather excitedly running to you when asked. The Box Game is one that fosters a desire and sense of feeling comfortable to try new things. How it works is by utilizing the clicker conditioning to reward when the puppy offers a NEW behavior towards the box and not rewarding the same behavior twice. By doing this we are encouraging your puppy to offer something new to earn his/her reward.

All puppies are introduced to other adult dogs (ones that we know, trust & have been medically cleared), besides mom, starting at this age to allow the puppies exposure and socialization opportunities with other canines of various sizes, coat types and energy levels. It is important to us that we help instill enough confidence within them that they are at least curious enough to greet

other dogs. Along with other dogs, our puppy gets to meet our GoldenQuest farm animals! We have two cows named Fiona & Felicia, a bull named Shrek, along with two goats and chickens.

This age also introduces our Problem Solving exercises. Our staff gets creative by setting up new challenges for the puppies to problem solve. For example, putting a bowl of food on one side of an open ex-pen then walking putting them on the other side and encouraging them to figure out that they just have to walk around the barrier to get to the bowl. Once they have mastered this then we may either give them a new challenge or increase the difficulty level on the current. (To increase the difficulty we may make the needed walk around the barrier longer and place a litter-mate at the food bowl already to increase the puppy’s desire and motivation to get to the bowl faster.) Creating solvable problems for the puppies has also shown an quicker learning curve for some of them!

Introduction to the crate starts here too! Each puppy gets an hour in the crate each day after they have been mentally exhausted through PC. This has helped us seen an amazing improvement in our puppies ability to accept and become comfortable in the crate quicker than puppies who aren’t introduced until later in life.

Our puppies continue with their PC throughout the remainder of their time here until they go home! Six weeks old however is a fun mile-marker that we use to host what is called a “Puppy Party.” Not as wild as the name may imply, puppy parties are held at this age point because the puppies are typically at their peak of curiosity and still have a puppy confidence that will encourage them to act more boldly than they would once they’ve aged further. The party consists of a small group of trusted individuals that are dog savvy and have been previously prepped on the activities that will be performed. There are three stations in the room that perform some sort of learning or confidence or socialization exposure/benefit for the puppies; such as a balance beam (this would work on confidence & have people to monitor the safety of the puppy), or a recall station where the puppy is asked to “come” and is rewarded when he/she arrives to the person who called, etc. Each person or pair is assigned a station that they will stay at as each puppy gets about two minutes working that station then they cycle out. This is wonderful exposure for the puppies and we always try to invite a variety

of people to allow for optimal socialization.

On occasion, the litters get the chance to have a special socialization experience usually based on the local events or weather. For example, swimming in a pool, going to our outside mall “The Summit” which is entirely dog friendly, etc.

Seven weeks of age is when our little ones get their temperament tests, shed test, tattoos and those in pick positions are notified to begin their selection process!

Throughout all of this process, our Puppy Enrichment Providers, keep amazing notes on each puppy as they progress so that we can see their individual growth. During the puppy decision process, speaking with one of our P.E.P.’s is a great way to get a better understanding of the puppy’s personality. The puppy’s future family DOES get their puppy’s notes as well as an outline of the PC program that he/she received so that it may continue it once they are home!