** New photos and videos soon to come! **
We hope this page will help you understand the extensive work we do with each and every puppy. It’s hard to summarize it all! We follow the complete Puppy Culture program. We also utilize some of the Avidog program.
Puppy Culture is a puppy-raising program created by trainer and Bull Terrier breeder Jane Killion.
Avidog’s “Your Litter A to Z” is a comprehensive breeder program developed by longtime breeders Dr. Gayle Watkins, Marcy Burke, Lise Pratt, and Dr. Christine Zink.
In addition to what is described below, our puppy curriculum includes:
- Scent Circles
- The Communication Trinity
- Free Stacking & grooming training
- Resource guarding prevention (objects, locations, food)
- The Box Game (a shaping/targeting exercise)
NOTE: Many breeders say they use Puppy Culture but in reality, they either barely follow the program or just cobble something together. To ensure a breeder is truly raising Puppy Culture puppies, always request videos of the process as proof. Our videos can be found in our MeWe group.
EARLY NEUROLOGICAL STIMULATION and EARLY SCENT INTRODUCTION
Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) or “Biosensor” is a prescribed series of exercises that each puppy goes through every day from Days 3-16. This exposes the puppy to very slight stressors that have a positive effect on the neurological and immune systems.
Early Scent Introduction (ESI) is an Avidog concept. It exposes the puppy to one novel non-meat scent each day, also from Days 3-16. This stimulates the areas of the brain primed for development spurt. It also enhances nose and scenting abilities.
PUPPIES RAISED IN THE HOUSE
Many breeders whelp litters in the house, but then move them to outside kennels. Unfortunately, under this practice the crucial “socialization period” is missed, the time when the puppies need more than ever before to be in the middle of a household.
Our English Shepherd litters are whelped and raised in our home.
At around 4 weeks old when the puppies need more space, they are moved to a larger playpen where early potty training begins. The floor of the pen is washable and cleaned using non-toxic products.
EARLY POTTY TRAINING
As soon as the puppies start toddling around, potty pads are added to the whelping box right next to their cozy bed.
Once they are walking away from their bed to use the pads they are moved to a larger playpen, a litter box with unscented paper pellets is added, and the area with pads is slowly reduced. This process greatly speeds up housetraining for new owners since our puppies are already quite reliable by the time they leave us.
Half the pen is a play area (which is enlarged over time) and the other part is a potty area.
NOVEL OBJECTS & CHALLENGES
After the puppies’ eyes have opened and they are moving about, we challenge them with a novel object daily. The puppies keenly explore them! We vary the items so they experience different textures, sounds, smells, and sizes.
The puppies have lots of toys and Havi-sized equipment to play with. We also introduce crates with the doors open.
We aim for a varied, enriched environment for the puppies. Items include hanging toys, a tunnel to run through, a wobble board that moves under their feet, their Adventure Box (Avidog), and much more!
We observe the puppies as individuals and note how they approach challenges and tasks. What we learn about each puppy helps us in choosing homes just right for each of them.
Starting at 4 to 5 weeks old and throughout the time they are with us, at every meal the puppies hear their special happy puppy call before we set down their food. At first, although this sound is exciting, it means nothing to them, but very soon they learn to respond quickly when they hear it!
As the puppies grow we transition the puppy call to a friendly “come!” Our puppies go to their new homes with a well-trained recall.
THE BARRIER CHALLENGE
This starts when the puppies are eating solid food and is repeated daily with each puppy until they have no problem navigating the barrier.
The puppy is given a taste of food, which is then moved a short distance away behind a barrier. It must figure out a way around the barrier to reach the food. This exercise enhances problem-solving and developing the capacity to think when frustrated.
OUTDOOR PLAY YARD
From the age of about 5 weeks, the puppies also spend time outside daily, depending on the weather. A play yard gives them more space for play equipment, adds to the socialization experiences, and gives them lots of room to chase and run, in addition to the wonderful health benefits of grounding.
The puppies also accompany us while doing Ranch chores and explore while on “Woodland Walks” (Avidog) as an invaluable learning experience.
Manding is about developing the concept of self-control in a very young puppy. It provides the puppy with a way to communicate “I would like that” in a manner that is socially acceptable to humans. When the dog wants something, they learn to ask for it by sitting patiently without word or hand cues from us. This teaches them that they have a voice!
After starting the puppies off individually, we can train them in a group. We give a treat to each Manding pup, but not jumping pups. This results in a huddle of darling puppies sitting to politely ask for attention!
Visitors of all shapes and sizes come to interact with the puppies. Being that dogs do not generalize, we introduce them to as many “varieties” of people as possible (glasses, beards, hats, face coverings, wheelchair, adults, children, etc.), even providing ‘costumes’ if needed, creating a positive emotional response for life.
Many of our puppies have a long journey ahead of them to their new homes. We feel it is important they are used to car travel, so we take them in the car for very short distances starting at 4 weeks old, building up to weekly outings.
We do not put young puppies on the ground in public places or allow them to meet unknown dogs up close. We carry them in our arms only, or they stay on our laps and allow people to approach. We get quite a lot of attention when we’re out and about with adorable little Havi puppies!
Temperament assessment on the puppies is ongoing throughout their development- how they interact with littermates, mommy and other dogs, human adults and children, sounds, how they react to novel situations, and independence versus dependence.
Their structure is evaluated at 8 weeks+/- based on Pat Hastings’ “Puppy Puzzle” and “Structure in Action”. The free stacking practice we do with the puppies really helps!
All of this information combined gives us a good sense of what each puppy is capable of, what areas need more attention, and where each puppy is likely to thrive.
The Puppy Party is held around 6 weeks of age. It provides a big dose of socialization with new people and fun, new experiences.
There are stations placed around the room, each allowing the puppies to learn a different task, such as: going through a tunnel with an attached chute, balancing on a teeter-board, walking across a dog walk. There are lots of yummy treats and cuddles involved, too!