Our Next Level Puppy Program
We have spent the past several years developing an early puppy program based upon developmental markers for our breed. Our “Next Level Puppy Program” gives our puppies a head start on training and socialization before they leave our care.
The experiences that a puppy has during the first 16 weeks of life are critical to its development as a dog. Our Next Level Puppy Program starts during the puppy’s first week of life and continues on until they leave our care. Since puppies leave our care between 9-10 weeks of age, we also provide new buyers with resources to continue on with socialization during this critical period.
The puppy culture connection
Our Next Level Puppy Program is a combination of many resources including acclaimed science-based puppy rearing methods that we adopted from numerous books, scientific literature, and courses including Puppy Culture, Avid Dog’s Breeder College, Avid Dog’s Puppy College, Badass Breeder and SIRUS Dog Training.
The first puppy training course that we came across was Jane Killion’s Puppy Culture. This course had a major impact upon our puppy program and still is the foundation of our Next Level Puppy Program today. Although we made modifications based upon the needs and maturity of our breed, it is still at the core of our program today. Another acclaimed program, Avid Dog’s Platinum University, added depth and scientific documentation for our moms, newborns and our socialization program while their puppy school along with SIRUS Dog Training and other well recognized training programs provide a wealth of information that can be passed on to our buyers giving them the tools they need to train their puppy into a great dog.
So what is Puppy Culture? Puppy Culture focuses on the fact that breeders have the ability to change the outcome of the puppy’s life by introducing strategic socialization practices during puppyhood. Basically the Puppy Culture program identifies developmental stages of puppies and identifies practices to follow during these times.
This program does require a time commitment on the part of the breeder but the results are unbelievable. Because we use Puppy Culture as the foundation of our Next Level Puppy Program, we give every puppy the best possible start to becoming a great dog.
A simplified break down of our Next level Puppy Program
The prenatal stage
About a week before her due date we move our expecting mother to her whelping pen. This way she is by herself in a calm stress-free environment and gets lots of attention. We make this time as stress-free for mom and babies as possible and is never left alone at this time.
Studies show that the physical and emotional health of the mother will affect the health of her puppies. Puppies are able to respond to the touch of mom’s belly being rubbed late in pregnancy. Studies show that loving on a pregnant mom results in puppies that are more docile and enjoy being touched as adults.
The neonatal stage
Puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed. Basically they are helpless and can not regulate their own body temperature or eliminate on their own. They only respond to warmth, touch and smell. We ensure that they are warm and eating and are always a few feet away during this time period.
For the first 2 weeks of life puppies are weighed twice daily to make sure that they are growing and supplemented if necessary. Mom is also checked closely each day.
Generally we start Early Neurological Training (ENS) on day 3 and continue on through day 16. Puppies undergo a period of rapid neurological growth and development during this time and studies show that puppies that undergo ENS have an improved heart rate, stronger heartbeats, stronger adrenal glands, are more tolerant to stress and have a greater resistance to disease. In learning tests, puppies that received ENS were more active and exploratory, made fewer errors and thus dominated in competitive situations. Unquestionably we feel that puppies who receive ENS are also calmer when placed in stressful situations.
The transitional period
The transitional period begins when the eyes open and they can hear. At this time they can start interacting with their environment. This stage normally occurs between 2 and 3 weeks of age.
During this week they are transitioning from helpless babies to learning about the world around them. They begin to toddle around, play and communicate with each other. We start exposing puppies to something new every day including new sounds and toys as well as daily handling exercises.
The socialization period
The socialization period normally begins around 4 weeks of age. When puppies are in this period, it takes little effort for puppies to learn something new and this is the time when they learn to become members of both human and dog society.
During this time we give puppies the skills that they will need to live in a human world by focusing on teaching our puppies communication, emotional stability, habituation, enrichment, health, skills and love.
We work daily with puppies exposing them to new surfaces, sounds and experiences. How fast puppies progress through our program is dependent upon developmental markers and varies from litter to litter and puppy to puppy.
Some of the things that we work on during this period are:
- Sound desensitization
- Touch desensitization
- New surfaces
- New toys daily
- New experiences multiple times a week
- Problem solving
- Startle & recovery
- Basic manners
- Crate training
- Litter box training
- Introduction to water
- Taking a treat
- Clicker or marker training
- Inside and outdoor experiences
- Wearing a harness
- Basics of leash walking
- Balance and a sense of proprioception
- Nail trims
- Car rides
- Adventure walks
- New people
- New animals
- New places
Continued Training for Buyers
Baxter & Bella's online puppy school
We highly recommend Baxter & Bella’s online puppy school to our buyers to continue socializing and training their puppy once they leave our care.
We have purchased this program and used it on our own puppies with great success. Due to our strong belief in this program, we have partnered with Baxter & Bella to bring you a 25% discount.