Puppy Enrichment Program
** New photos and videos soon to come! **
Puppy Culture is a series of videos outlining the puppy enrichment program developed by Jane Killion, a professional dog trainer and Bull Terrier breeder/exhibitor. In it, Jane shares the science pertaining to puppy development in the first twelve weeks of life with practical application in the form of enrichment protocols and emotional resiliency exercises for breeders to follow. It’s a comprehensive, organized program. It is becoming a worldwide movement among breeders and for good reason!
Those first weeks of life are an extremely influential time for a dog when by doing the right things at the right time a breeder can raise confident, enrichment seeking puppies, thereby changing the outcome of their lives. What more could a breeder desire for their precious wee puppies?
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. At this time, we follow some from the Avidog program but not all. Yet!
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. Chris Zink.
In addition to what is described below, our puppy curriculum includes:
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 at all 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 seen on our website and MeWe groups.
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 OUR HOME
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 Havanese litters are always whelped and raised in the heart of our home.
At around 4 weeks old when the puppies need more space, they are moved to a larger playpen. The floor of the pen is washable and kept clean using non-toxic cleaners. They have a potty box with unscented paper pellets and then we transition them to the Bark Potty.
EARLY POTTY TRAINING
As soon as the puppies start toddling around at 2 1/2 weeks old, 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 to potty at around 4 weeks old, they are moved to a larger playpen, a litter box is added, and the area with pads is slowly reduced. We sometimes use a Bark Potty also. This process greatly speeds up housetraining for new owners since our puppies are already quite reliable by the time they leave us.
Half the whelping box/pen is a sleeping or 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 challenged 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. They have hanging toys, a tunnel to run through, a wobble board that moves under their feet, their Adventure Box (Avidog), and more!
We observe the puppies as individuals and note how they approach challenges and tasks. What we learn about each puppy help’s us in choosing homes just right for each of them.
Starting at 5 or 6 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 around 6 weeks 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. The puppy 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 explore with us 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 then train them in a group. We give a treat to each sitting pup, but not any jumping pups. This results in a huddle of darling puppies sitting to ask for attention!
Visitors of all shapes and sizes come to interact with the puppies beginning at 6 weeks old. Being that dogs do not generalize, we introduce them to as many “varieties” of people as possible (glasses, beards, hats, wheelchair, etc.), 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.
Structure is evaluated at 8 weeks+/- based on Pat Hastings’ “Puppy Puzzle” and “Structure in Action”. The free stacking and grooming 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: going through a tunnel with an attached chute, balancing on a wobble-board, walking across a dog walk. There are lots of yummy treats and cuddles involved, too!