The US military developed a programme known as Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS), or the Bio Sensor, to develop ‘super puppies’.
The Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) program consists of applying gentle stressors to young pups in a controlled manner through specific handling exercises. Based on years of research, it has been found that the programme had lasting effects and leads to rapid neurological growth and development in puppies.
Furthermore, the pups that received this stimulation were healthier, had better cardiovascular and adrenal health, and were generally better at problem-solving than puppies that did not receive this stimulation during the crucial developmental phase.
Thanks to a paper published by Dr. Carmen Battaglia, many breeders started incorporating Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) for their pups. This article explores this programme in brief.
Table of Contents - Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS)
What is Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS)?
As mentioned, the Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) Programme was first developed to improve the performance of US military dogs.
It was based on the fact that there is a specific window in every puppy’s life wherein, neurological stimulation can produce superior results and aid in dog training.
The Bio Sensor Programme was designed with the aim of giving the dog a superior advantage. It consists of five handling exercises that help stimulate the puppy’s neurological system by applying stressful stimuli in a controlled manner.
This period or window to perform these handling exercises runs from the pup’s third day of life until its 16th day. This is the period of rapid neurological growth in dogs, and it is important to perform these exercises during this window.
Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) Exercises
The five stimulating exercises include:
- Hold the puppy in one hand
- Using your other hand, tickle its paws with a Q-tip
- Spend around 3-5 seconds on each paw, and ensure tickling in between the puppy’s toes.
- The pup does not have to respond to the stimuli.
Head Held Erect
- Using both your hands, hold the puppy erect with its head directly over its bottom.
- Spend 3-5 seconds on this exercise.
Head Pointed Down
- Use both hands to hold the puppy with its head pointing towards the ground vertically.
- Spend 3-5 seconds on this exercise.
- Cuddle the puppy in a supine position with its belly facing up.
- Again – three to five seconds
- The puppy may or may not struggle.
- For this exercise, you use a cool, damp cloth placed in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes.
- Place the pup, belly down, on the cloth. Again – 3 to 5 seconds- The idea is to not chill the pup- just stress it slightly.
- Allow the puppy to move at will.
- Do not repeat these Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) exercises more than once a day. Doing so could have the reverse effect and overwhelm the puppy.
- Do not extend the stimulation beyond 3-5 seconds for each exercise.
- These exercises aren’t a substitute for handling, cuddling, and play socialisation.
- Naturally, some puppies resist the exercises, while others may enjoy them.
What Are the Benefits of Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) for Puppies?
The above exercises offer stimuli that do not occur in a normal pre-weaning environment. Studies on the Bio Sensor program showed the following benefits:
- Improved heart rate
- Stronger heartbeats
- Stronger adrenal glands
- Greater tolerance for stress
- More resistance to disease
Tests also showed that early-stimulated puppies were more active and inquisitive than their unstimulated littermates. They were also better able to handle maze problems, made fewer mistakes, and remained calmer during problem-solving sessions.
However, a study that included 76 puppies raised in a commercial breeding facility, found that there was no difference in puppy response to a stressor applied at 8 weeks of age between puppies that received Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) and those that didn’t. In contrast, a study investigating the benefits of Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) on working dog performance found that a difference was only observed when the treated puppies were around 10 months old. This difference was attributed in part to the increased socialisation that puppies, receiving the Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) program, underwent.
FAQs – Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS)
What is puppy culture?
Puppy Culture – developed by dog trainer Jane Killion – is a comprehensive puppy rearing and socialisation programme designed to give puppies the best start in life.
It focuses on early development and learning and sets a strong foundation for a well-rounded and confident adult dog.
Puppy Culture incorporates positive reinforcement training methods, environmental enrichment, and early socialisation experiences to shape puppies’ personalities and improve their overall temperament.
When should I start Puppy Culture?
Most reputable breeders start Puppy Culture training when the puppy is 3 weeks old. Good breeders do not let their customers take the puppy home before it is at least 8 to 10 weeks old.
This is the period when your puppy gets socialised with humans and other dogs. It also receives early enrichment and is exposed to various stimuli.
What is early scent introduction?
Early scent introduction (ESI) is a puppy training technique that involves exposing young puppies to a variety of scents (different types of food, natural environments, or specific scents associated with certain objects or activities) from an early age.
This practise aims to enhance the puppy’s sensory development and stimulate its olfactory abilities.
What scents to use for ESI puppies?
Breeders use scents like grass, dirt, herbs, and working scents like ducks, pheasants, tennis balls, etc. for early scent introduction to puppies.
Key Takeaways- Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS)
Early neurological stimulation (ENS) for dogs, also known as the “Bio Sensor” programme, involves specific handling techniques to stimulate a puppy’s neurological system. It is done during the puppy’s first few weeks of life.
This technique includes gentle handling exercises such as head tilting, tickling the paws with a cotton Q-tip, and placing the puppy on a cold surface – all for a short period of time.
These exercises have potential long-term benefits and are known to improve the dog’s overall health. They also improve the dog’s stress tolerance and performance in various areas, including training, agility, and working tasks.
We hope this brief guide gives you an insight into ENS for your puppy. The best breeders incorporate Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) into their puppy-raising programs. While studies have struggled to show significant improvements in the early life of puppies who have received ENS, there is a clear socialisation benefit that becomes apparent as the puppy grows into an adult dog.
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