Early Neurological Stimulation Program

In recent years, the Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) approach has gained popularity. Specifically, in the community of dog breeders. Keep reading if you've ever wondered what Early Neurological Stimulation is and how it may assist your puppy. We'll go over everything about Early Neurological Stimulation, including its benefits, risks, and how ENS puppy training works. Let's get started!

What is Early Neurological Stimulation in Dogs?

The US Military originally developed Early Neurological Stimulation to increase the performance of future military canines. The "Bio Sensor" program was developed by the US military and is also known as the "Super Dog" program. Many breeders use this type of puppy raising, which is now known as Early Neurological Stimulation.

The US Military found through study that pups' initial fast neurological development phase occurs during the newborn period. This is also the best time to do neuromuscular stimulation exercises. This is because puppies are particularly sensitive and susceptible to input during the newborn period.

So, what exactly is Early Neurological Stimulation? To put it another way, ENS exposes puppies to moderate stimuli and stresses. These stimulations can help them re-energize their nervous systems and increase their inherent skills.

ENS puppy training includes a variety of body handling activities. The activities are carried out throughout a puppy's neonatal stage, which begins on the third day after birth and lasts until the sixteenth day. Puppies are extremely sensitive and defenseless throughout this stage of development. They don't open their eyes until day 10 and start hearing at 2 weeks old. They can detect touch even if they can't see or hear yet.

Early Neurological Stimulation has been demonstrated to aid pups' neurological development, as well as their general growth, emotional stability, and health.

According to some research, just 35 percent of a puppy's performance is influenced by heredity, while the environment controls up to 65 percent. As a result, it's critical that a puppy receives adequate physical touching, socialization, training, a healthy nutrition, and a secure living environment right from the start.

Benefits of Early Neurological Stimulation

Many dog breeders have chosen ENS since it offers numerous advantages for the growth of puppies. Early desensitization is perhaps one of the most important advantages of ENS for puppies. ENS helps pups get desensitized to human contact and body handling, which is important for their growth.

ENS has been shown to help puppies desensitize to stress by exposing them to modest kinds of stress. This, in turn, can have a significant impact on how individuals react to various stressors later in life. As a consequence, pups can better handle stressful situations. They're also less prone to respond aggressively, excessively anxiously, or fearfully.

Naturally, this does not rule out the possibility that dogs exposed to ENS during their neonatal phase do not respond to stress. Rather, they are better at coping with stress and reacting appropriately.

Furthermore, puppies exposed to Early Neurological Stimulation during the neonatal stage have been reported to be better at problem solving and to have a more curious and energetic temperament.
Furthermore, study reveals that puppies that have been subjected to Early Neurological Stimulation training have a better heart, immune system, and hormonal, pituitary, and adrenal systems.

The following are some of the benefits of ENS for puppies:

Increased cardiovascular efficiency
Stronger Heartbeats
More powerful adrenal glands
Stress tolerance has improved.
Increased disease resistance

Things to consider

Of fact, many of these advantages have been found, with conflicting outcomes in scientific investigations. ENS puppy training, on the other hand, helps puppies become used to human touch by providing necessary body handling.

Early socializing is, nevertheless, an important aspect of a puppy's growth. Although ENS for pups provides some socialization, it should be used in conjunction with other methods. Hugging, petting, meeting people of all ages, meeting other dogs, playing with littermates and toys, and so on are examples of these activities.

Desensitization is also beneficial to all pups. Sights and noises, household objects, textures and surfaces, and much more should all be included in desensitization. This ensures that a puppy is exposed to a variety of sounds and settings from an early age. As a result, they're less prone to feel afraid, worried, or aggressive when confronted with unexpected settings or sounds.

Finally, while ENS has numerous advantages, it should only be used with utmost caution and attention. At all costs, stimulation and tension should be maintained to a minimum. Furthermore, ENS exercises should only be performed on puppies that do not have a lot of stress in their lives. Small levels of stress are useful to a puppy's brain development and wellbeing, while excessive stress is harmful.

Early Neurological Stimulation for Puppies, Training and Exercises
Five diverse body handling exercises make up the Early Neurological Stimulation technique. All of this should be done once a day from the third to the sixteenth day after birth. Only when you have completed all of the exercises should you go on to another dog. Each stimulation exercise should be no more than 3 to 5 seconds long.

The entire ENS training program will only take a few minutes every day because each exercise lasts 3 to 5 seconds.

The ENS puppy training program consists of 5 key exercises:

  1. Tactical stimulation
  2. Head held erect
  3. Head pointed down
  4. Supine position
  5. Thermal stimulation
Keep in mind that you should only do each of those exercises once a day. As previously said, overstressing a puppy might have negative consequences. The ENS approach is no exception. Too much stimulation during the newborn stage might cause more damage than benefit for a puppy.

Let's look at each of the exercises and how they're done in more detail...

Tactical Stimulation

Tactical stimulation exercise uses a Q-tip to gently stimulate the puppy between the toes of one foot (any foot). For this exercise, you should hold the puppy in one hand and gently tickle between the toes with a Q-tip for about 3 to 5 seconds. 

Although your pup might react to the tickling, it’s not necessary for them to react to the tickle. Above all, you should make sure that you only do the exercise for a limited amount of time, as even too much tickling can induce excessive stress on the puppy.

Head Held Erect

The head held erect exercise is done by holding the puppy straight up in both of your hands. With one hand you can support the puppy’s bottom, while the other hand supports their upper body and head. The puppy’s head should be directly above its tail, so your pup is in a vertical position. 

Again, you should be very gentle and keep them in upright position for only 3 to 5 seconds. 

Head Pointed Down

The head pointed down exercise is very much similar to the head held erect stimulation. However, you’ll be holding your pup upside down with their head towards the ground. 

For this exercise, make sure you’re holding on to the puppy very firmly, yet gently, so they cannot fall out of your hands. You’ll also want to make sure that their whole body is in a vertical position, so be sure to support the puppy’s head and whole body. 

Supine Position

The supine position is done by holding the puppy on its back. Hold the puppy in both of your hands with their face towards the ceiling. The puppy should lay horizontally in your palms while you support their head and the whole body.

Thermal Stimulation

Thermal stimulation introduces the puppy to a colder temperature than its normally exposed to. For this exercise, you first have to cool a clean, damp towel in the fridge for at least 5 minutes. Then, you’ll place the towel in your hand and place the puppy belly down on the cooled towel. 

As your puppy is likely to notice the change in temperature, it’s completely normal if they start wiggling around. Don’t restrain your puppy, but make sure they’re safely in your hand and can’t fall to the ground while moving. 

Is Mental Stimulation Tiring for dogs?

Physical and mental stimulation are both necessary for any puppy or adult dog to operate effectively in their daily life. Puppy and dog owners who do not provide adequate physical and mental stimulation may get nervous and display undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking or destructive behavior.

As a result, it's critical that you provide your dog lots of physical activity as well as mental stimulation through training, puzzles, and enjoyable activities. Mental stimulation, on the other hand, is exhausting for dogs. Mental stimulation is also supposed to make dogs more weary than physical stimulation.
So, while exercise is important for your dog's physical and mental health, you should never overlook their emotional requirements. Dogs are sophisticated creatures who require cerebral stimulation in addition to physical stimulus.

The Early Neurological Stimulation method consists of 5 different body handling exercises that should be done on puppies aged 3 to 16 days, once a day. These exercises introduce very mild forms of stress to the puppy for the duration of only 3 to 5 seconds per exercise. You should do each exercise just once and then immediately move on to another.

ENS for puppies includes 5 different body handling exercises, such as:

  • Tactile stimulation – holding the puppy in one hand while gently tickling the toes with a Q-tip.
  • Head held erect – holding the puppy in a vertical, upright position in both hands, one hand supporting the bottom and the other supporting the upper body and head.
  • Head pointed down – holding the puppy vertically in both hands in downward direction with the head towards the ground. 
  • Supine position – holding the puppy horizontally belly up on both of your hands.
  • Thermal stimulation – using a damp, cool towel and placing it over your palm, then placing the puppy on the cool towel with the belly touching the towel. 
Final Thoughts on Early Neurological Stimulation
To summarize, the Early Neurological Stimulation approach, in combination with other types of socialization and enrichment, can increase the neurological development, health, emotional stability, stress endurance, and performance of pups. Although scientific evidence is ambiguous, and ENS may not work for all pups, it does have advantages. Body handling, which is exactly what ENS is, is an excellent approach to introduce the puppy to human contact. However, ENS should only be performed on puppies that are otherwise stress-free, since excessive stress might trigger negative effects and impede neurological development.