CONNEMARA’S POLISHED PUPPY™ PROGRAM
PSDHP (Puppy Socialization, Desensitization and Habituation Program)
Prenatal Care - First, we focus on proper exercise, nutrition and attention, giving the Dam every opportunity to bring forth a healthy and vigorous litter. Stress during gestation can be passed on to puppies - So we are careful to provide a calm, non-stressful prenatal environment.
Neurological Stimulation - Bio Sensor exercises begin when puppies are 72 hours old. This consist of five specific exercises designed to stimulate the neurological system. It involves handling the puppies once each day, days 3-16.
Tactile Stimulation & Conditioning - We begin slowly acclimating puppies to different surfaces and textures. Through short exercises, puppies are introduced to various stimuli, to condition, but not over-stress them.
Olfactory Stimulation - Not all senses are functioning in a puppy when born, but the olfactory sense is. A different scent is used for each day of the week. After cleaning their bedding area, we spray with a diluted scent using extracts like; birch, clove, sage, mint, lemon, anise etc.
Visual Stimulation - A puppy is born with eyes closed and is isolated from visual stimuli. When eyes open, we utilize exercises to stimulate and enhance vision. These exercises between days 10-15 and continue in a laid back fashion to ensure an optimal, stress free experience.
Imprinting, Human Attachments & Bonding - We begin imprinting, attachment and bonding exercises from the moment the puppies are born. This helps our puppies have a low fear/anxiety association with humans during a critical window of opportunity and produces puppies that prefer human interaction. We strive for balance, not a too dependent or independent pup.
Handling & Touch Conditioning/Desensitization - Gentle and early handling has been proven to improve a pups ability to thrive. We insist our puppies be comfortable and relaxed when being touched in various ways. Desensitization also prepares puppy for examinations, potential rough handling by children, or other environmental stimuli they may encounter and must tolerate.
Environment Enrichment - Research has shown that animals raised in an enriched environment are more inquisitive, more adept at performing difficult tasks, and are more intelligent because they have experienced a great deal when young. It not only produces a better brain, but there are fewer behavior problems in a busy breed. Based on this research, we provide an enriched environment for our puppies to ensure they have the best chance of developing a sound temperament and the capacity to cope with life situations in the future. The puppies get to exercise their curiosity while having fun exploring novelties they encounter. By day 21, Environment enrichment is in full swing - squeaky toys, fuzzy toys, things to climb on and balls to play with. By day 28; More Mental and physical challenges - more things to climb in, on, under and the addition of interactive toys.
Interactive feeders and treat toys - Introduced by day 28 and used daily to help puppies problem solve.
Socialization - By day 28, we expose our puppies to people, places and things. Our puppies are expected to coexist nicely with people, in various settings and with other animals. Socialization is a step-by-step process to ensure the puppy is having positive interaction, is safe, and forming positive associations. From week six, we also introduce friendly, mature adult dogs for puppies to interact with, so they can learn appropriate "doggie manners" from others in addition to their mum.
Vet visit / Outings - We expose our puppies to new stimuli without creating a stressful experience, so they are slowly and methodically introduced to new situations and environments. ie; vehicles, walks in the woods, trip to vet, etc. We are careful that they have positive interactions, thus reducing future issues in unfamiliar situations.
Habituation to Novel, Environmental and Passive Stimuli - Habituation is a form of learning in which an animal becomes acclimated to environmental stimuli through exposure and stops responding, ultimately ignoring stimuli. We use day-to-day stimuli in their environment such as vacuum cleaners, wind chimes, moving objects, etc. When puppies eyes/ears open, we use smaller scale stimuli - like toys with sound in their whelping box. This continues in the puppy playpen, and later in the puppy play yard. Passive training, i.e. having the litter in high-traffic areas most of the time so that ordinary sights and sounds are present makes sure no stimuli slips through the cracks. We work to develop conditioned emotional responses to key stimuli like veterinary exam tables, stethoscopes, bathtubs and grooming tools with a focus on feet and nails, because foot sensitivities are epidemic.
Sound Conditioning & Desensitization - If a puppy is not exposed to sudden noises followed by a low level startle response, and a quick return to normal, he will most likely over react to noises followed by prolonged fearfulness when he enters the fear stage. We use a few different sound desensitization cd’s in this process, beginning in a gradual fashion, slowly introducing various sounds at increasing levels. This is done during a period when a pup’s central nervous system is developing. Because the puppies are conditioned from an early age, they often develop more confidence and lower noise sensitivity. So, although they will hear an unexpected sound, they may ignore it and continue on un-phased.
Mental & Physical Challenges - We provide tiered mind challenging problems that will exercise the brain and enhance puppies development. This stimulation helps puppies develop problem solving abilities, mental coordination, confidence, and resiliency. Puppies raised in lacking environments are more likely to become fearful adults. We challenge the puppies physically in an effort to improve muscle coordination, balance, motor skills, confidence, agile movement, body self awareness, and development. We provide a “playground” of challenges which helps to develop strength, agility and coordination skills in a fun environment. We begin in the whelping box, and continue in our puppy play yard which is filled with equipment including ramps, tunnels, wobble boards, various obstacles, high reaching toys, shallow body of water and other items that help build confidence.
Grooming Conditioning/Desensitization - We begin handling all parts of the puppy's anatomy from the time they're born in an effort to desensitize to touch. By the time our puppies leave at 8 weeks, they are comfortable with bathing, brushing, ear cleaning, nail clipping, body checks wearing a collar, and more. Again, we spend extra time and attention to foot handling.
Separation Conditioning/Home Alone Training - Because separation anxiety can be a problem later in life, we begin separation conditioning to gradually acclimate puppy to short periods of being alone so they can form positive associations.
Crate Training - We acclimate puppies to crate training beginning in week six because it's a great help in house training. Crates are indispensable for house-training and home alone training. It also gives the puppy a safe place of its own accustoms (conditions) him to being confined for short periods of time and associates it with positive events. When the puppies go to their new homes at 8 weeks of age, they have little difficulty adjusting to their new home/ environment. The feedback we receive on how well the puppy does his first night is overwhelmingly positive. In our experience crates are an absolute must!
House Training - We begin passive house training our puppies at approximately four weeks of age when they develop the instinctual desire to eliminate outside their nest. This helps lay foundation for easy house training later.
Core Behaviors / Manners Training - By the time puppies leave us at 8 weeks, they have been exposed to situations and training, all geared towards avoiding some of some problems people have with young puppies. While these behaviors are seen as problems in the human world, they are very normal puppy behaviors. Things like biting, jumping on people, distress vocalization when left alone or placed in the crate (even for a second), struggling on a leash, eliminating whenever the urge arises (in the house), and car sickness.
We will work on these behaviors so the puppy has a foundation for the training their new owner will need to do. Good manners and habituation, make it much easier for the transition to their new environment and follow-up training. We include men, women and children in training so puppies are used to learning from a variety of individuals.
Puppy Assessment & Evaluation - We begin making assessments of a puppy’s temperament from the first week. We pay close attention to each puppy which can provide clues to subsequent development. During this time we’re looking at sociability, emotionality, problem solving ability, group dynamics, motor abilities and more. Since the puppies live with us from the moment they’re born, we typically have a good idea of their individual temperaments, and which show natural inclinations toward certain traits. By week 7, the amount of observation time and interaction with pups gives us a picture of personality that would trump a formal temperament test result - such as Volhard. The goal is to try to predict how puppy will be in the real world.
Puppy Placement - Actual puppy scoring will be done on individual traits. Scores are indicative not predictive of adult behavior patterns. Puppies are then matched with waiting families.
Customized Socialization Plan - Customized to your family and lifestyle; written, easy-to-follow steps for your puppy during the first eight weeks puppy is home with you. Sample plan
Suggested Reading - We will supply you with a short list of recommended reading to get you started. Book List
Follow-Up and Support - We provide follow up and support to those who receive our puppies to ensure what we started is built upon. Behavior never remains the same – it’s always changing. So, we’ll be there to help when you need assistance.
Polished Puppy™ Scores : *********************************************
Each Puppy has its own personality, inherent temperament traits and energy level and are motivated differently. Puppies are evaluated during their entire time here with us. At roughly seven (7) weeks of age, we have enough information and observation time in that we are able to categorize them. First, we break the pups into three groups; Social, Extrovert and Introvert. We then assign them a level based upon their energy and enthusiasm. They are critiqued on:
•How comfortable they are in a new environment
•What their social responses are
•How interested in playing they are
•How interested in people they are
•How biddable or independent they are
•How easy they are to handle
•If they have a tendency to guard food or high value objects
•Desire to chase, retrieve or play with ball
•Desire to follow humans
The Social Puppy is very social and motivated by attention and interaction with people. This puppy values human attention above anything else. This pup is more interested in you than in toys or playing without you. This puppy is a companionable, little buddy. The social puppy enjoys being the center of attention, shines is social settings and makes new friends easily.
•◆◆◆ S-1 = Confident and Outgoing -- This is an all-purpose pup ready to commit to his new family. He will find every family activity fun, interesting and enjoyable. But he will prefer human companionship over all else. This dog is ready, able and willing to be your constant sidekick. Loyal to the end. Life will never be boring with this little terrier.
•◆◆◆ S-2 = Middle-of-the-road -- Fun-loving and always ready for a good time. His playfulness, love of all things chewable and general silliness will keep you and your friends entertained and laughing. When he becomes a bit to overwhelming, a redirection settles them down quickly.
•◆◆◆ S-3 = Soft or slightly Insecure -- This pup is ready, able and willing but can be a bit unsure and shy at first. He will thrive in a home where his humans are patient, able to gain his trust and teach him new things. This pup is pretty low maintenance and will be just as happy sitting near you as taking a leisurely stroll around the block. This type of puppy can easily end up being a very devoted friend.
The Extrovert Puppy is predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside itself. This puppy is motivated by a variety of stimuli including human contact, food and has play and/or ball drive. They take pleasure in activities that involve people, other dogs, toys and treats! They find it less rewarding to spent a lot of time alone and can be more prone to boredom. But when bored, can usually invent a game all by themselves. Gregarious, approachable and unreserved. An extrovert puppy likes to be where the action is and can be “the life of the party”.
•◆◆◆ E-1 = Confident and Outgoing -- Puppy oozes with excitement about life in general! Life is so full of things to play with like balls, toys, rocks, socks, pant legs, fingers and toes. This pup loves meeting new people and thinks life is all about having fun. This puppy will have a lot of energy and is certainly not for a couch potato. Play, play, play - the more the better. ...And with or without you!
•◆◆◆ E-2 = Middle-of-the-road -- This pup is the total package. Teach her, praise her and she’ll guarantee to make you proud no matter where you take her. This dog is naturally curious, trusting and playful in nature. This little pup will enjoy a daily walk or play session and then be satisfied to curl up in your lap at night.
•◆◆◆ E-3 = Soft or slightly Insecure -- This pup is also the total package, but with a bit less energy and confidence. Smart, willing to learn and eager to please. With a little patience, you can probably teach this pup anything. Very loyal and steady.
The Introvert Puppy can be a bit less engaging and is often motivated by stimuli that is not as easy to see or control. This pup is more predominantly concerned with and interested in itself. This type of puppy is often independent, and is not easily motivated by human contact, balls, toys or food. This pup will be fine with solitary time and activities. This type of puppy is probably not a great choice for families with small children, busy lifestyles outside the home or lots of loud or busy activity in the home. This puppy will do best in a home with a less active, mature couple who does not require a dog to be their “constant shadow”. These puppies as well come with different energy levels. They can be a wallflower, a lone-wolf or even sheepish. An introvert puppy is usually quiet around strangers, doesn’t draw attention to themselves, may be independent and enjoys time alone. A dog with an independent personality is not overly interested in people. He will mature into a dog who is not demonstrably affectionate. These dogs are less likely to be despondent if left home alone.
•◆◆◆ I-1 = Confident -- This pup will have a little bit of ambition. Intelligent, independent, cleaver and confident. They like to set their own rules but can be persuaded. This puppy will enjoy hard working, confident, somewhat busy humans. Sometimes he will prefer to do his own thing... and perhaps to your frustration. This terrier will view you more as an equal, and be an independent thinker more than just blindly follow his humans.
•◆◆◆ I-2 = Middle-of-the-road -- This pup may view the world as a big and scary place especially if they are not socialized and taught basic core training. With the right training, this pup can easily learn his way around. This pup may appear a little shy but really just needs someone to help them come out of their shell. Charming and sweet they blossom with patience and understanding. Until they are familiar with a new place, they will be more comfortable close to you... or maybe just a little behind you.
•◆◆◆ I-3 = Soft or slightly Insecure -- Easy-going, relaxed pup who will prefer a laid-back human and a low stress relationship. It will help if you are positive, patient and enjoy short, leisurely games of fetch followed by a quick snack and two-hour nap, and be willing to explore the joys of simply relaxing together. If you like “the easy life”, this pup may be a perfect match for you. Naps in the middle of the day and curling up on laps is always a plus with this pup.
Confident and Outgoing puppies readily accept human leadership that is firm and consistent. This dog responds best to an owner who is determined and decisive. This dog is friendly and sociable. He will be well adjusted if he receives regular training and exercise. Outgoing dogs have a flexible temperament that adapts well to different types of environments provided they are handled correctly. They are excellent family pets in the right type of household.
Middle-of-the-road dogs are easy to handle and cooperative. Their submissive nature will have them continually looking to his people for leadership. This pup is easy to train, reliable with children, and though he may lack a little self confidence, he makes a high quality family pet. This dog is a little less extroverted than an outgoing pup but his demeanor is gentle and affectionate.
The Soft or Insecure dog is submissive and/or lacks confidence. He bonds very closely with his owner and requires regular companionship and encouragement to bring him out of his shell. If handled incorrectly the insecure dog can grow up shy and fearful. This pup does best in a predictable structured lifestyle with owners who are patient and not overly demanding.
Our Polished Puppy™ Assessment and Evaluation program is practiced to provide an accurate and objective evaluation of the behavioral tendencies of a puppy. Similar programs are used by those that train police K-9's, Search & Rescue, dogs for the blind, and so on to pinpoint tendencies in very young puppies before they are influenced by the environment. Behaviorists, trainers and serious breeders will recommend objective testing as a helpful tool when placing puppies. Even if a pup is not destined to be a working dog, it is still important to know the puppy's temperament as well as possible to match both puppy and owner. All owners want the perfect Jack Russell but the perfect pup for one person could cause chaos in another's household.