We put our Berner puppies in stressful situations every day from 3 to 18 days to stimulate their nervous system, their blood flow, and their digestive system. Puppies are also subjected to situations which make them want to squirm away. The stimulations are not cruel but they are things such as holding the puppy on his or her back, holding them with their back legs or front legs down, and allowing the puppy to feel cold on their feet. Although we do this method, we seldom have a puppy cry (but sometimes, they think that something strange is happening, so their warn mom that there is something going on that is not normal. Mom never gets upset, but when she finds that the puppy is okay, she just relaxes too. And she might have some recollection that she, too, went through this.
We began doing this many years ago because we read that the German dog teams in World War II used to have dogs that would go through a field where bombs were going off and bullets were flying. However, the American dogs did not. Since the American solders wanted this type of dependability in their working dogs, they finally discovered the reason. That reason was that the dogs had stimulation as puppies that was extreme (not painful but which was intended to develop their nervous system strength). We thought it sounded like something we wanted to try because we felt it might give the puppies an advantage as adults. So we did.
What we found was that our puppies were calmer, less likely to panic, and less nervous even when they were adults. Seldom do we hear that one of our dogs panicked. Since this was our observation, we decided that it was something which we should do with each litter. You benefit from our discovery and our work because we cannot tell which puppy will be a show dog at birth, which puppy might be a great obedience prospect, or which puppy could be good at drafting or carting or herding or therapy or agility or any other working dog games that we humans play with our dogs. We want our puppy buyer to find that they can take their dog into any type of dog training that they wish and that the training will be successful. So we work all puppies in this technique to make sure that we get this done to the puppy that we will keep as a potential show puppy who could be our next champion and so that all of our puppy buyers get a puppy who has the best that we can give them. It has proven to us that it works. We no longer have the original article on this process, but if you search on the internet, you may find it. If you do, please share your source with us.
We also believe that puppies need to be handled from birth to the time that the leave to their new homes. We do not allow the puppies to be left without constant attention. If a pup seems to be going through a stage where s/he wants to be alone, we pick them up, talk to them, pet them, and we continue to play with them until they decide that they want to play too. This also works to alert us to any stomach aches or discomforts that the puppies have so we can treat quickly. Although our puppies seldom get sick, we have had a few that have needed some vet care. So this keeps each puppy foremost in our mind so we know what is going on.
The good news is that, by the time puppies are ready to go to their new homes, we don't make mistakes about what type of puppy we send. If you are able to tell us what you want, we send that type of puppy to you or we wait until we have another litter to find just the right puppy for you. We are committed to placing our puppies in just the right homes, and that means that we also have to be just as committed to each of our puppy buyers to make that happen for you.
Our goals are to send puppies who are active, to active homes. We want to send puppies who are quiet to homes where there are people who will work with them a lot and who want a dog that is quiet. If a person wants a dog that is very trainable, we watch and know which puppy is the exceptional puppy in the litter for brains. And we send that one out to be trained for showing in obedience and other working areas. If we are asked for a dog that has a tendency for herding, we try to find the one who is most likely to follow as we move around. Our goal is to get the right puppy in the right home. And only once, because we did not understand the buyer's desires, did we send the wrong puppy. Now that is out of about 100 puppies we have sent out since 1985, so we feel our record is pretty good!
We believe strongly that puppies need to have regular contact with people. Nathan, who is three years old, loves to play with the puppies. He goes out every day and helps mom work with the puppies.
Puppies are out running the property each day which consists of a flat area about 20 x 60, two hill sides, and a kennel area. The puppies are free to get on top of roofing (left over from roofing the house -- but safe). They can get around logs, on top of wood, on sandy surfaces, on rock, on grass, wood chips, and on dirt. They often go and play in the grass and run with their litter mates around the whole area.
Additionally, they have access to many different toys such as tarps (which they hide under), dog crates (which they get in and out of), logs to climb on, sticks to carry around and to fight over with their litter mates, buckets to crawl in to, tall grass to hide in (and scare everyone) and many other natural substances that are safe for them to be in and be on.
We believe that puppies need stimulation in their growing up months so we provide for them the opportunities to learn about new things. We also believe that they need to be able to be with people, and we provide that people play 30 minutes to two hours each day, and occasionally we are with them more than that.
By the time the puppies are 8 weeks old, they will follow people because Nathan runs and play with them. They will come to a person. They trust people because we are always gentle with them. They wag their tails when they are petted. They will stack (stand on all four feet squarely) and usually stay for half a minute, and they will allow most any part of their body to be handled because we play with the constantly.
And that's a puppy you can live with!
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