Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS)

Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) is a process that introduces mild stress to very young puppies. These stresses help stimulate the neurological system which improves the growth and development of the puppies immune system, cardio vascular performance (heart rate); stronger heart beats; stronger adrenal glands; more tolerance to stress; and greater resistance to disease.

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 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, we start with one puppy and stimulate it using each of the five exercises. After we complete the series from beginning to end we then start with the next puppy and do the series of exercises again.

1. Tactile stimulation – Holding the pup in one hand, we gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.

2. Head held erect – Using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.

3. Head pointed down – While Holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.

4. Supine position – We hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

5. Thermal stimulation— We Use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. We do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

Early Scent Detection (ESI)

Early Scent Introduction (ESI) is a procedure we do that helps puppies with their nose awareness and confidence. It enhances their ability to identify and react to scents. ESI is introduced at days 3-16 of a puppies life and is very beneficial for their development.

During this curriculum, we expose them to a different scent each day. As we do this, we hold the puppy close to us, and let them smell each item. The reaction is considered to be positive when the puppy shows interest in the scent, moving his/her nose towards it. A negative reaction is recorded when the puppy tries to move away from the scent. If a puppy is neither interested or uninterested in the scent, this is considered a neutral reaction.

This procedure creates a more aware and alert dog, which in return makes an even better companion, service, and therapy dog. Many times with therapy and early service dog training, the dog’s scent abilities are a characteristic that is required. Studies have shown that stimulating puppies scent ability early on has been proven to dramatically increase their scent ability later in life. 

Here are a few examples of how dogs can help through their scent abilities.

1. Nearly half of children with autism tend to run away or go missing. Many dogs are trained to follow the scent and can locate the child.

2. Diabetic alert dogs are trained to detect low or high blood sugar levels by the smells in the air.

3. Some dogs can even let an elderly person know that the stove has been left on, or even a gas leak.