What is Puppy Culture?
Puppy Culture is a program developed by Jane Killion, professional dog trainer and breeder. It is a comprehensive, organized program for breeders to follow during the first weeks of a puppy’s life.
The first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life are incredibly important. This is an almost magical time when a breeder has the power to change the outcome of a puppy’s life by what we choose to teach him. By doing just the right things at just the right time, we can give your puppy the best start possible.
Making sure that your puppy’s genetic material is excellent is only the beginning. The physical and emotional health of the mother will affect the health of her puppies. Since research has shown that puppies born to mothers that receive prenatal massage are more docile and enjoy being touched, we spoil our mothers with lots of affection and belly massages. A puppy’s predisposition to form deep and meaningful relationships begins even before they are born.
Neonatal Period: 0-14 days
Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) begins on day 3 and continues through day 16. Research shows that tiny struggles and stresses in appropriate small doses are actually good for puppies and will help them grow into strong, healthy well-adjusted adults. Benefits include greater tolerance to stress, greater resistance to disease, faster adrenal system, stronger heart rate and stronger heartbeat. This is a gift that a breeder can only give their puppies once during the window of 3-16 days.
Transitional Period: 14-21 days
Behavioral markers are used to identify the beginning and end of each developmental period because every puppy is different and these timelines are simply guidelines. The transitional period begins when the puppy’s eyes open and ends when they first startle upon hearing sounds.
Critical Socialization Period: 3-12 weeks
Most people think of socialization as exposing their puppies to as many new experiences as possible while the puppy is young. While this is part of the process, it’s not enough. Our goal is to raise dogs that have the emotional intelligence to connect with you. Emotional intelligence can be taught to young puppies and one of the goals of the Puppy Culture Program is to teach breeders how to do this. There are 7 key things that will nurture the emotional intelligence of a puppy.
1: Communication – giving a puppy his own voice (Communication Trinity – (power up clicker, box game, manding), attention/distraction protocols)
2: Emotional stability – the ability to recover easily from fear as well as stress (startle recovery, barrier challenges, Volhard Aptitude Test at day 49))
3: Habituation – familiarity with the maximum number of things (Puppy Parties, sound protocols, habituation soundtracks and noises, meeting different people, dogs, other animals)
4: Enrichment – the view that novelty and challenges are opportunities for enrichment rather than things to be feared or avoided (novelty items, Adventure Box, off premises socialization)
5: Health – physical wellness and motor skills that will allow the puppy to develop in a neurologically and physically sound way (daily weight checks, grooming, vaccinations, deworming, proper nutrition, vet health checks)
6: Skills – learned behaviors which allow him to function in human society (recall, manding, simple commands, litterbox training, crate training, leash walking, resource guarding, bite inhibition)
7: Love – the desire to seek out the company of both dogs and humans as emotionally positive experiences (shaping emotional responses, Happy and Calm CER (Conditioned Emotional Responses),daily cuddles with humans and mom).
Weeks 8-12: Per Puppy Culture protocol, puppies go home with their families. This gives them two weeks in that critical socialization period to adjust to their new family’s lifestyle and be introduced to new people and experiences.
This is definitely an incredible amount of work, but it is 100% ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!!!!!! When you adopt your puppy, you will be just as thankful as we are for this program!
I have started making videos of some of the Puppy Culture techniques. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel Windy G Farm Australian Shepherds for the videos as they are posted.