We as breeders, try to ensure our puppies have a great start on being more adaptable to all the situations they will encounter in life.
At birth, puppies are blind, deaf, toothless, and need to be kept warm. Their weight typically doubles during their first week of life. During the time of 2-4 weeks of age, their ears and eyes open and they stand and start with their first steps. The entire process of birthing and watching them go through all their developmental stages is amazing.
At Little Paws of Iowa, we practice early neurological stimulation that was developed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia.
Early neurological stimulation is a series of exercises that we perform once a day on the puppies from day 3 through day 16 of life. The exercises are designed to stimulate the neurological system of the puppy, during a time of rapid neurological growth. This has been shown to increase the puppies' performance in later life. Studies have shown that puppies have an increased stress tolerance, greater resistance to disease, problem solve better than other puppies, and are actually physically healthier with higher cardiovascular performance, stronger immune systems, adrenal glands, and heart beats.
The process consists of 5 simple exercises which are tactile stimulation, lying in the supine position, held with head held up, tilted upside down, and thermal stimulation. Each exercise is done for 3-5 seconds, and the entire process takes about 30 seconds. Tactile stimulation is done by gently tickling or touching in between each of the pup’s toes with a Q-tip. The supine position is achieved by holding the pup in both hands belly up (some pups squirm in this position so a solid but gentle two handed hold is necessary). For the head up position, the puppy is held with both hands so that the tail is pointed to the ground and the head is above the tail towards the ceiling. From the head held up position, the pup is tilted over and held so the head is towards the ground and the tail is towards the ceiling. The puppy is set on a damp cool towel for the thermal stimulation.
Generally, genetics account for about 35% of the performance but the remaining 65% (management, training, nutrition) can make the difference. Pups that are handled early and on a regular basis, generally do not become shy as adults.