Our Role in Puppy-Raising

Our Role in Puppy-Raising


I believe in many of the benefits of the Bio-Sensor method for puppies, and from day 4 to 18 I engage in the specific activities for this.  I am not trying to create a “super-dog” as I have seen claimed with this method, but I do appreciate the potential benefits presented by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia, an AKC judge, researcher, writer, and leader in promotion of breeding better dogs.  He found that the benefits from this early neurological stimulation led to:

  • More tolerance to stress
  • Stronger heart beats
  • Greater resistance to disease
  • Stronger adrenal glands

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-stimulated litter mates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.  Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated litter mates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated litter mates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and only gave an occasional distressed sound when stressed.

The Bio-Sensor method really can be boiled down to a very natural stimulation approach – starting around day 4, the puppies are engaged in gentle exposure to specific new experiences, involving being held in different positions and exposure to a cooler temperature.  Some approaches involve more dramatic temperature extremes – certainly with puppies born in an Iowa winter I feel it is plenty to just set them on the pine shavings outside their bed area to experience a little temperature shift before being returned to their warm snuggly nest of siblings plus Mommy.

I take note of each puppy’s reaction and development throughout this process – where do they lie on a spectrum? Are they wiggly, crying, and to what extent?  (If stressed the process is further gentled and abbreviated.)  Or are they relaxed through the process?  (I have had puppies, once their eyes have opened, look at me and yawn while I tickle their toes!)

The benefit I see from the Bio-Sensor method is something that doesn’t in any way change the innate personality of each puppy, but has the potential to help the development of their functional system, and begins to give a comfort level for activities that can spook dogs:  trimming nails, or checking out ears and teeth.

Aptitude Assessments – PAT PLUS LIVESTOCK

At about 7 weeks of age, we get to have the fun of observing each puppy in a series of aptitude assessment tests.  We use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT), which among other things helps to gauge the natural energy level of the puppy, based on the first response of the puppy to each situation.  This also helps us to assess the general “good-fittedness” of a puppy for various homes.  However, the PAT was designed with an eye towards dogs that don’t have the special skills that livestock guardian dogs have, therefore we also use an assessment protocol geared more towards the assessing the specific qualities we’d look for in a livestock guardian dog.

Guide dog trainers have the greatest faith in the PAT test.  A dog that retrieves nearly always works out to be a guide dog because it indicates a willingness to work for the owner.  Other organizations that use dogs from a shelter, such as those who use dogs to sniff out contraband or drugs, and police departments, place almost sole reliance on this test.  They know that if a dog brings back the object, they can train him to do almost anything.  Our dogs have hereditary strength as livestock guardian dogs, and the PAT gives us useful information in assessing their natural proclivity for that.  We also run additional aptitude assessments for livestock.

PAT uses a scoring system from 1-6 and consists of ten tests.  The tests are done consecutively and in the order listed.  Each test is scored separately, and interpreted on its own merits.  The scores are not averaged, and there are no winners or losers.  The entire purpose is to select the right puppy for the right home.

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.

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