What Sets Our Puppies Apart
Early Learning Program
We spend hours with each puppy doing different protocols to ensure your puppy starts out with the best foundation possible. Keep reading to understand what makes us different from many breeders. Doing what we do takes a massive amount of time and effort. It is absolutely worth it if you are looking for a puppy that has problem-solving skills, a curious mindset, and a drive to learn.
Before you consider buying a puppy from a breeder, be sure they incorporate an early learning program for their puppies. Do your homework! And whatever you do, don't buy a puppy from a pet store as these pups come from puppy mills.
We believe that young puppies should have the opportunity to develop emotionally, socially, and physically from the moment they're born. This is done through exposure to a variety of activities and exercises that are necessary to enable an optimal learning experience.
Working with puppies during their important neo-natal, transitional, and early socialization periods instills a deep-rooted bond to humans and gives them a solid foundation for all future endeavors. It builds confidence, fosters enthusiasm for training, and instills a willingness to be of service.
Our protocols are based on the research of animal behaviorists, researchers, and experts.
Puppies are whelped and raised in our home environment. We want puppies to grow up in an environment that is conducive to their future. We feel a home rich in stimuli will be conditioned in their developing brain.
When our puppies are 49 days old, they're temperament tested and because of the early conditioning the puppies receive, they can be prepared for any number of "jobs."
Puppies spend time with their littermates and mother and grandmothers to learn proper canine social behavior.
We ensure that puppies are given the right balance of stimulation, play, and rest so they enjoy learning and never feel overwhelmed.
We devote a significant amount of time to human socialization because we want to develop a puppy who is confident, yet socially dependent.
We use structured protocols based on very specific developmental timelines in the young puppy.
We focus on human social bonding, imprinting, stimulation, sound therapy, conditioning, enrichment, habituation, and socialization.
We also focus on training that helps advance the puppy's intellectual development.
We use reward-based training with positive reinforcement which includes clicker training and lure/reward training. This early training helps build confidence and problem-solving skills.
Stress reactions by the dam during gestation can be passed on to her puppies, so we take great care in providing a calm, non-stressful prenatal environment. We also ensure the mother receives proper exercise, nutrition, and attention as well as consistent and specific activities that she finds enriching.
Studies have shown that when a pregnant animal is petted, the litter is more docile. Petting activates the parasympathetic system, facilitating relaxation, emotional attachment, and socialization. Puppies from a petted mother have a greater tolerance to handling than puppies from a mother that is not petted or loved. We love on our dogs every day of their lives, but our mamas love the extra pampering they get when pregnant.
We start getting to know our puppies in the immediate moments after their birth by performing the Biotinus test, also known as the vigor for life test. We combine these results with all our other exercises, tests, observations, etc to get a better understanding of each individual puppy and its potential future.
We proudly utilize PUPPY CULTURE with our litters. This is a developmental stage-specific active enrichment and socialization protocol designed to capitalize on the period of time that puppies' brains are the most impressionable. My educational background is in Early Childhood Education. When I first heard of Puppy Culture, I was immediately drawn to it because it is puppy led based on developmental markers. I knew from my profession that this is the best way to teach children, so why not puppies too!
Many breeders profess to be Puppy Culture breeders. The only way for you to know for sure is to know what Puppy Culture consists of and then to ask the breeder about specific protocols. I would be more than happy to speak to you about the Puppy Culture protocols (WAY more than ENS) and the reasoning behind them.
EARLY NEUROLOGICAL STIMULATION
From days 3-16 we employ Early Neurological Stimulation to help give your puppy the best start in life. ENS has been found to help puppies handle stress, improve physiological functioning, and increase curiosity.
EARLY SCENT INTRODUCTION
Avidog's Early Scent Introduction is also something we do when the puppy is quite small. Introducing scents very early will undoubtedly help those dogs going on to work in scent-related tasks.
PUPPY APTITUDE TEST
At seven weeks we give the puppies the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) to help us predict behavioral tendencies and how the puppy will turn out as an adult. This will help us match puppies to their new families.
Research has shown that animals raised in a sensory-rich environment develop thicker cerebral cortexes, have more synaptic contacts between neurons, and have higher levels of neuroendocrine transmitters in their brains than do those that have been raised in a non-stimulating environment. When measured later in life, the results show that the animals raised in an enriched environment tend to be more inquisitive, more adept at performing difficult tasks, and more intelligent because they have experienced a great deal while they were young.
Based on this research, we provide an enriched environment for our puppies in a systematic fashion to ensure they have the best chance of developing a sound temperament and the capacity to cope with life situations in the future. The puppies get to exercise their curiosity while having fun exploring the novelties they encounter. This results in a puppy who is comfortable in a changing, new environment.
The developmental period from three to 12 weeks is the most influential nine weeks of a puppy’s life. This period is associated with the development of many social behavior patterns and a great deal of learning about the environment. Much of what is learned during this early period is permanent and provides a foundation for adult behavior patterns. To decrease the possibility of fearful responses as a puppy develops, it is essential to expose them to many people, places, and things during the socialization period. We also introduce friendly, rock-solid adult dogs for the puppies to interact with so they can learn appropriate "doggie language" from others in addition to their mom.
We want to expose our puppies to new stimuli without creating a stressful experience. We continuously watch body language and monitor heart rate for signs of stress when we take an outing.
HABITUATION TO NOVEL & ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULI
Habituation is a form of learning in which an animal becomes acclimated to novel and environmental stimuli through exposure and then stops responding, ultimately ignoring the stimuli. We provide non-threatening, structured exercises to our puppies to facilitate the habituation of day-to-day and novel stimuli in their environment such as vacuum cleaners, blenders, garbage disposals, moving objects, etc. As soon as the puppies' eyes/ears open, novel items are put into their whelping box and continue in the puppy pen and then the puppy play yard.
SOUND CONDITIONING & DESENSITIZATION
A puppy is born with his ears closed and is isolated from sound during the first couple of weeks. This new capacity quickly enables him to discriminate between situations that pose a threat and those which are insignificant. If a puppy is not exposed to sudden noises followed by a low-level startle response, and a quick return to normal, he will most likely overreact to noises followed by prolonged fearfulness when he enters the fear stage.
We provide sound conditioning and desensitization in a gradual fashion, slowly introducing various sounds in different locations. This is done during the critical period when the puppy's central nervous system is developing. This activity conditions the puppy to have appropriate startle responses followed by a quick recovery. In addition, because the puppies are conditioned from an early age, they often develop more confidence and lower noise sensitivity. Although they will hear an unexpected sound, they may ignore it and continue on unphased.
MENTAL & PHYSICAL CHALLENGES
We provide tiered mind-challenging problems that will enhance brain development. This stimulation helps the puppies develop problem-solving abilities, confidence, resiliency, and mental coordination. Puppies raised in environments lacking challenges are more likely to develop into fearful, less successful adults.
We also challenge the puppies physically in an effort to improve muscle coordination, balance, motor skills, confidence, agile movement, body self-awareness, and development. We provide a “playground” of challenges that helps to develop strength, agility, and coordination skills in a fun environment. We begin in the whelping box and continue in our puppy play yard which is filled with equipment including ramps, tunnels, wobble boards, various obstacles, stairs, planks, high-reaching toys, and many, many novel items that help build confidence.
We begin touching all parts of the puppy's anatomy from the time they're born in an effort to desensitize to touch. Because many puppies/dogs have an aversion to grooming, we begin by making it a very positive experience. By the time our puppies leave at 8 weeks, they are comfortable with bathing, brushing, ear cleaning, teeth brushing, nail clipping, nail dremeling, body checks, and more.
In addition to the activities that our puppies do as a litter, and the time they spend with their mom learning important life lessons, we also work with each puppy separately to develop their individual personalities. Puppies act differently as a group, in small groups, and in pairs than they do individually, so it's also important for us to observe the changes in personality in various situations. Helping the puppy build their confidence outside the litter is a very important aspect of our program.
We begin house training our puppies at approximately three weeks of age when they develop the instinct to eliminate outside their nest. We employ the use of a potty box in the weaning pens which will make it easier for you to housetrain your new puppy.
Puppies also have exposure to sleeping and resting in crates before they go home. We acclimate them to crate training at an early age because it's a great help in house training. It also gives the puppy a safe place of its own so it gets accustomed to being confined for short periods of time and associates it with positive events. When the puppies go to their new homes at 8-9 weeks of age, they do not have difficulty adjusting to their new home, and we hear how well the puppy is doing in adjusting.
We make sure the puppies nurse as soon after they are born as possible. The first milk the dam produces is colostrum which is a thin watery "milk" that transfers mom's immunity to the puppies. It is very important that they receive this colostrum to keep them immune from deadly diseases. Later mom's immunity wears off and that's when we immunize the puppies.
Puppies nurse on demand pretty much for 3-4 weeks. We begin to introduce a gruel of lean beef or venison and goat milk about the time they become interested in mom's food. Also about this time, Mom is getting seriously tired of their little needle teeth. As the days and weeks go by we gradually move from gruel to a variety of other raw meats mixed with a bit of prebiotic foods (resistant starches such as cold potato, sweet potato, rice, banana, etc).
* If you are a kibble feeder we believe in always feeding kibble with water on it. It takes a lot of moisture to rehydrate kibble in the gut for proper assimilation. If you are a raw feeder or prepare home-cooked meals for your dogs we applaud you and say YAY! We have been feeding RAW for about five years now. We belive in the importance of adding fresh veggies, blueberries, fermented foods (for probiotic boost) and bone broth (for joints). Even adding fresh foods just 3x a week will reduce the chances of cancer (which currently is 1 in 2 of all dogs in North America) by 70%!!!!
We choose a puppy food that has the proper ratio of calcium to phosphorus of 1:1 to 1.8:1 and educate our puppy families to continue with this food. Large breed dogs are susceptible to bone and joint issues. We take very seriously nutritional and environmental conditions that can lessen the risks. We only breed dogs with sound hips and elbows; we do our best to ensure genetic soundness. The other larger factors lie at the feet of dog owners -- nutrition and environmental conditions.
Nutrition when you get your Puppy Home
Please, please, please do not overfeed your puppy and allow them to get fat or even pudgy! Goldens have a reputation for always being hungry. Just because they would eat more does not mean they should eat more. Keeping your dog lean is a major way to ward off all diseases in the future. Dogs kept LEAN live an average of TWO years longer!
I have learned from experience that Goldens can be leaner than you would think. So if you think your dog is OK, he can probably lose a few pounds. The easiest way to avoid having to put your dog on a diet is to control the rate of weight gain while he is a puppy.
Keep your dog lean:
you can see his/her waist when you look down on them from above
you can feel the ribs easily but not see the ribs
the dog has a "tuck-up"
Excessive dietary calcium causes the skeletal structure to grow too fast.
We believe in feeding raw, meaty bones in a supervised situation.
We believe in giving our Goldens a joint supplement from 10 weeks on. The preventative use of a good joint support is just smart.