At Evera True Cavaliers, we are firm believers in Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) exercises. These exercises start on puppy's third day through day 16. This a period scientists claim is a rapid neurological growth and development phase. Puppies respond very well to these exercises.
The US Military developed this method to improve the performance of future military working dogs, according to the Breeding Better Dogs program developed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia.
ENS requires handling the puppies individually and conducting five exercises. We start with one pup and stimulate it using each of the five exercises listed below. These exercises are completed before moving on to the next pup. Engaging with each pup once a day involves the following exercises:
1. Tactile stimulation - Pup is held in one hand and gently stimulated (tickled) between the toes on any one foot with a Q-tip for 3 - 5 seconds.
2. Head held erect - Using both hands, the pup is held straight up, so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position for 3 - 5 seconds.
3. Head pointed down - Holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed down so it is upside down with the head pointed to the ground. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds.
4. Supine position - Pup is held so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with the muzzle facing the up toward the ceiling. The pup is allowed to sleep while on its back. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.
5. Thermal stimulation - We use a cool, damp towel and place pup on its stomach for at least five minutes. No movement is restrained during this exercise. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.
We do not repeat the exercises more than once per day and do not extend the time as overstimulation of the neurological system can have adverse and detrimental results.
When performed correctly, ENS is believed to impact the neurological system by stimulating it earlier than normally expected. The result is an increased capacity that later will help make a difference in its performance, according to Breeding Better Dogs.
These exercises are not a substitution for our daily loving and petting of our young puppies.
Five benefits observed in canines who have completed an ENS program include improved cardiovascular performance (heart rate); stronger heartbeats; stronger adrenal glands; more tolerance to stress; and greater resistance to disease.
In tests of learning, ENS stimulated pups were more active and exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates, according to Breeding Better Dogs.
For a video example of ENS exercises please click this link to a YouTube video.