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How we raise our puppies

We plan to raise our puppies using the Puppy Culture Curriculum along with ENS and ESI methods. We will also be using the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test when placing puppies into their new homes. 

We believe that the first 12 weeks of a puppy's life are crucial. And as an ethical breeder, we believe that it is our responsibility to try our best to give our puppies the best start in life possible. All of our puppies are raised in our home. While in our home they can receive daily socialization and are exposed to all the different sights and sounds that come along with living in a home environment. 

What is Puppy Culture?

Puppy Culture was created by Jane Killion who is a professional dog trainer and breeder along with other dog behaviorists, veterinarians and experts in the field. It is a program designed with the purpose to help puppies develop to their fullest in their first 12 weeks of life. The program has over 50 lessons for successfully rearing a puppy. 

It covers a variety of topics such as Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS), early socialization, basic skills, potty training and crate training, household desensitization, leash walking, manding, aggression prevention, grooming and much more. 

There are 4 developmental periods. Each are important in their own ways. The 4 periods are:

  • Prenatal Period 

  • Neonatal Period (0-14 days)

  • Transitional Period (14-21 days

  • Critical Socialization Period (3-12 weeks)

Prenatal Period:

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 10-12: 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. 

Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT)

When puppies are 7 weeks old we will be conducting the PAT. The PAT consists of 10 tests and uses a scoring system from 1-6. Each test is scored separately and interpreted on its own merits. The scores are not averaged and there are no winners or losers. The purpose of the test is to select the right puppy for the right home. The 10 tests are as follows: 

  1. Social Attraction - degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence.

  2. Following - willingness to follow a person.

  3. Restraint - degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.

  4. Social Dominance - degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.

  5. Elevation - degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer.

  6. Retrieving - degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.

  7. Touch Sensitivity - degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.

  8. Sound Sensitivity - degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.

  9. Sight Sensitivity - degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.

  10. Stability - degree of startle response to a strange object.

For more information on the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test click here

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