Early Neurological Stimulation
The Early Neurological Stimulation program is a series of 5 brief exercises done with the puppies. Puppies raised with ENS (which takes less than a minute per puppy per day), for the rest of their lives will have stronger heartbeats, stronger heart rates, an adrenal system that moves faster when they need it, more resistance to disease, and better tolerance/resilience to stress. Sure sounds worth that small bit of effort to spend with each pup, doesn’t it?
I do hear some breeders say they don’t bother to do ENS with their puppies, because they already handle their puppies every day and don’t see why ENS would make a difference.
Gentle handling, stroking, snuggling and kissing the pups is something every good breeder loves to do, and it is helpful for sure, in forming a bond with the puppies, and calming them, teaching them to relax and lowering blood pressure.
But ENS is different! When you normally hold a puppy, you are not likely to be holding it on its back, or holding it with its head pointing towards the floor, or deliberately placing it on a cold surface for a few seconds. These are a specific kind of stimulations that are unlike the normal handling that a breeder does in regular day to day handling of the puppies. And these stimulations in ENS are each chosen as a way to introduce the puppies to various forms of mild stress.
So what exactly are these 5 exercises that are a part of ENS?
The first exercise is called Tactile Stimulation. For this exercise, you simply take a Q-tip, and tickle the pup between the toes of one foot for 3-5 seconds. This stimulates the tactile system – the sense of touch, and also helps wake up the neurological system.
The second exercise is the Head Up position. You simply hold the pup securely in your hands, with its nose towards the sky and tail towards the floor. The pup is held in this position for 3-5 seconds. Holding the puppy in this position causes more blood to drain down from the brain, and the neurological system will recognize that and tell the heart to pump more blood back up to the brain, maintaining equilibrium.
The third exercise is the Head Down position. This time you hold the pup securely in both hands with the nose pointed towards the floor and tail towards the sky. This position is held for 3-5 seconds. Now, in this position the puppy has too much blood running down into the brain, so the neurological system has to work in a different way to solve this different minor problem.
The fourth exercise is called the Supine position. On this one, you simply hold the pup securely with both hands with its belly up and its back towards the ground, for 3-5 seconds. Many pups don’t like this position much, but again this challenges the neurological system in a different way.
The fifth exercise is Thermal Stimulation. For this one, the pup is placed all 4 feet down onto a cold surface. It is not restrained in any way, and is left on that surface for 3-5 seconds. Some pups will just sit there, some will scream, some will try to crawl off the towel. But whatever the reaction, this exercise helps the neurological system learn to respond to a temperature change. As the days progress, the puppies will often learn how to crawl off the cold surface on their own quite quickly!
As mentioned previously, these 5 exercises are done just once each per day, from day 3 to day 16. Not a lot of time invested to follow this program, but with potentially huge benfits to the puppies! Well worth it!