Neonatal Puppy “Training”- ESI & BioSensor Early Neurological Stimulation

I’ve now mentioned Early Neurological Stimulation, or BioSensor training, a few times.  It has become a widely used protocol for enhancing the neurological development of puppies and most of the reports I’ve read indicate very positive results.  There’s plenty on the ‘net to describe the protocol, such as this very comprehensive video.

As such, I don’t really feel the need to go into much detail other than to say that I have been doing these exercises with the puppies since they were three days old. I do have some concerns with the exercises being stressful, as the idea is to gently stimulate and not stress!  The protocol warns that over stimulation can cause detrimental impact.

For the most part the puppies have been pretty tolerant of the exercises but anytime I see signs of stress (struggling or crying) I immediately back off the stimulation.  I also make certain to hold them as securely and gently as possible so as to leave them feeling secure.  The last thing I want is to cause a fearful association with being picked up or held!

The standard practice is to perform the exercises from days 3 through 16.  However, because it is dangerous to overstimulate neonatal nervous systems, BioSensor exercises should cease when puppy eyes open.  Amazingly, Griffon’s eyes opened on Day 10, and Lark’s opened on Day 11. So no more BioSensor work for them!  Instead I will simply spend the equivalent time handling and cuddling them.

I should note that I followed the ENS/BioSensor protocol with my last litter and they grew to be enormously affectionate, cuddly, and confident in their environment.  So either the exercises were helpful, or they weren’t harmful.  At the least they ensure additional individual handling on a daily basis (not that there’s any worry about me not handling these pups often enough!)

The other protocol I have been using is Early Scent Stimulation.  This training is much more fun for the puppies, and involves being introduced to a new pungent scent once per day.  I hold each puppy up to the new smell, and watch for a reaction.  At first they seemed to pay no attention but with each passing day they interact more overtly.  So fun!

To date I have introduced them to: a feather, nutmeg, raw sheep wool, rosemary, pine wood, a geranium leaf, cinnamon, and yesterday…. a goat!

Since there isn’t much on the internet demonstrating ESI, I thought I would make a short video of this latest experiment.  Interestingly, while I was doing the exercise I thought the puppies really weren’t paying attention.

Of course I was trying to manage both puppy and goat, while giving a running commentary of what I was doing, and trying to keep within the area I guesstimated was the camera’s range. (I have since discovered that I can turn the screen around so I can see what is being recorded… my video skills are sadly lacking but should improve as I go!)

Upon reviewing the video it is clear that each pup takes a good sniff of Sir Flint. Fascinating!  Neonates are fragile, but they are far from helpless or unaware.

 

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