What is Puppy Culture?
Rex Ventors puppies are raised with Puppy Culture, which is a program based on the latest science and studies on puppy and animal rearing. On the top level, Puppy Culture is a socialization and training program specifically developed for puppies from birth through the end of their critical socialization period, with age appropriate protocols and lessons laid out in an organized format. The program consists of videos, books and a Workbook that can be found on the Puppy Culture website (click on the banner at the bottom of the page).
Puppy Culture is based on the premise that the puppy always leads the learning, and puppies learn best by appropriate experiences at the appropriate time. So what we are doing is to observe the puppy, and, based on the behavioral markers we see, serve the puppy the experience or lesson that is optimal for him at that moment in time.
By letting the puppy lead, we are:
Finally, we teach owners to enjoy each puppy for the precious individual he is, and to tease out the best qualities in that puppy, rather than holding the puppy up to an arbitrary yardstick and labeling him as a problem if he does not measure up.
Many puppies are labeled as having behavior or temperament issues when they are simply being served an inappropriate experience for their developmental age. This can hobble the puppy for the rest of his life with an unjust label that will cause people to treat him in an unthoughtful manner. By letting the puppy lead, you avoid this and enjoy your puppy for the wonderful individual that he is.
So you watch the puppy and see what learning experience he's ready for. And learning what those experiences are and how to effectively serve them is a big part of the Puppy Culture program.
Why is this so important? Because things that are perfect in one developmental period could be useless or even detrimental in the next, and vice versa. Puppy Culture teaches the breeder to know where each puppy is developmentally, and what to do right now.
Puppy Culture is a "positive", reinforcement-based program and we do not use corrections or outmoded dominance theory. It's really all about observing the puppy and serving him the learning experience he is asking for at that precise age and developmental stage.
So what do we actually do?
What the puppy is presented with each week depends on the age and the developmental markers we observe in the litter. Below are some examples of what the pups are exposed to while staying with us.
From birth and to the day they move, our puppies receive individual cuddling sessions, involving touching and stroking by the breeder, every day. When the pups are 3-16 days Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) is done. This is a process that introduces mild stresses to very young puppies in a controlled way. These stresses help stimulate the neurological system which improves the growth and development of the pup’s immune system, cardiovascular system, and stress tolerance. Read more about the science between ENS here >>.
Fom when the pups are 2 weeks old, a new object is introduced every day. The first week the objects are tactile in different materials, since the pups are too young to interact with them. When they are 3 weeks we introduce object that move and make sounds. At 4 weeks the objects are of the nature that the pups can interact with them (carry or climb over). This teaches the puppies to respond well to novelties.
From 3 weeks we do daily sound desensatizing with all kinds of sounds (horses, airplanes, babies, thunderstorms etc). In the short time frame from when the pups can hear but haven't developed a fear response, we also give them startle and recovery training. As they grow we give them barriers to overcome, both in their every day play area and in order to reach their food or a reward.
When they become interested in food we "charge up the clicker" which means that we train the pups to associate the clicker with a reward. As soon as this is done, we begin different kinds of target training which is entirely positive enforcement based. It's unbelievable how quickly they work out what they need to do in order to get their reward. "Manding" means that the pups sit still demanding attention or a treat, rather than jumping at us in order to get it. This behavior is rewarded every time and the pups pick it up so easily. Due to manding, when the pups move to their new homes they are perceived as "polite" and sensible rather than pushy and unruly which helps their interaction with people tremendously.
We also work on shaping positive conditioned emotional responses in situations when the pup may otherwise feel pressured or uncomfortable. This is a structured training to make the pup associate something potentially negative (eg handling, a human taking his toy, his food or bone) with something very positive.
As the pups get older we also train basic heel work, down, recall, show stack and start nose work. They are continuously crate trained and take car rides and get to see a great deal of the world outside in order to get top notch socialization.
Our pups are potty trained to use a litter box from 3 weeks of age. The success rate varies from time to time and pup to pup but our experience is that they really learn the concept of using a litter box.
These are just some of the things a PC-puppy has experienced while in our home. Needless to say, we want our puppy families to continue to work with their puppies in a similar fashion in order to allow the puppies to grow into the best versions of themselves - filled with self-confidence and a positive attitude.
Please visit the Rex Ventors group on Facebook and look under Topics - Puppy Culture in order to see many videos of the work we do with our puppies.