We are introducing ENS to our daily puppy routine to improve our puppies performance, problem solving and help them respond to new experiences through out their lives. We spend time each day with each puppy to give them a head start in their social development.
Please check out these excerpts from Penny Leigh's article posted on AKC.org to learn more about this technique.
Early Neurological Stimulation
Puppy Socialization Starts with the Breeder: Early Neurological Stimulation
By Penny Leigh
Socializing puppies has traditionally been considered the responsibility of the new owner. We instruct them to take the puppy to classes and make sure they are exposed to a variety of people and situations.
But more research shows that encouraging a stable temperament can start even before puppies are born. Breeders can do a lot to make sure their puppies have a great start on being more adaptable to all the situations they will encounter in life. We look at the first three weeks of the puppies’ lives.
The First Three Weeks
The first three weeks of a puppy’s life are a crucial time. Puppies are very helpless at this stage. Their eyes do not open until around 10 days, and the sense of hearing starts around 2 weeks. Mama dog does most of the work at this stage, and your job is to keep everyone warm, safe, and clean.
Early Neurological Stimulation
In addition, some breeders include the Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) exercises, which are conducted once daily from the third to the 16th days, a period believed to be a time of rapid neurological growth and development. Even though puppies are very immature during this time frame, they are sensitive and respond to ENS.
The US Military developed this method designed to improve the performance of future military working dogs, according to the Breeding Better Dogs program developed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia, esteemed breeder, judge, seminar presenter, and AKC board member.
ENS requires handling the puppies one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:
1. Tactile stimulation
2. Head held erect
3. Head pointed down
4. Supine position
5. Thermal stimulation
What Does ENS Do?
When performed correctly, ENS is believed to impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected, the result being an increased capacity that later will help to make the difference in its performance, according to Breeding Better Dogs. ENS is time sensitive and must be performed from the third to the 16th days of a puppy’s life.
The exercises are not a substitution for daily handling and stroking of young puppies.
Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to ENS, including improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate); stronger heart beats; stronger adrenal glands; more tolerance to stress; and greater resistance to disease.
In tests of learning, ENS stimulated pups were more active and exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates, according to Breeding Better Dogs.