•Rule of Sevens
We use the Rule of Sevens developed in the 1980s by long-time breeder, professional handler and AKC Judge Pat Hastings. This method encourages socialization through experiences that are kept safe and positive. The basis for the Rule of Sevens is not specific training but simple exposure in a supervised environment prior to 7 weeks of age.
Research concludes that a puppy's personality is 35% dependent upon hereditary factors. And 65% of their adult personality is shaped by their environment experiences. This leaves an enormous responsibility to breeders.
We are genuinely concerned about our pups and their future success. We set aside quality time for daily encounters because we understand how much of a pup's future personality is shaped by seemingly insignificant moments. This playtime is creative and allows the puppy's personality to develop to its finest. Careful consideration is taken during the first few weeks of life while we are the puppy's sole caregiver.
By 7 weeks of age the puppy should have experienced the following:
1. Been on 7 different types of surfaces: wood, carpet, tile, linoleum, concrete, etc.
2. Played with 7 different types of objects: ropes, plush toys, sticks, metal items, etc.
3. Been in 7 different locations: front & back yard, pasture, kitchen, van, garage, etc.
4. Met and played with 7 new people: include children and older adults.
5. Been exposed to 7 challenges: climb on a log, go through a tunnel, climb up/down steps, climb over obstacles, walk in the pond etc.
6. Eaten from 7 different containers: metal, plastic, human hands, bucket, elevated dish, etc.
7. Eaten in 7 different locations: crate, yard, exercise pen, basement, laundry room, etc.
•Desensitization and Conditioning
Through approximately day 14 a puppy's eyes and ears are closed. However, during this time the puppies are still experiencing taste, touch, scents and other sensations. By exposing our pups incrementally they become desensitized to these strange new sensations. The goal here is to eliminate fearful behaviors by utilizing controlled early exposure that results in low body sensitivity and positive associations and interactions with people.
The most influential time of a puppy's life is between three and six weeks. Research revels that fear is not present in newborn puppies. It begins to develop slowly around five weeks of age. With a busy household of 12 there are constantly new sounds, smells, sights. Music, crying babies, laughing, objects being dropped, conversations, gunfire, livestock, meal preparation, fireworks, power tools, laundry being done. Puppies spend time in a variety of locations around our farm that encourage confidence as well. Our ponds, pastures, forests and creeks are used to create a playful, confidence building atmosphere. Introduction to all of this is done below the fear response threshold achieving adaptable, well rounded and confident puppies increasing their future trainability.
In addition to health and development, our puppies are handled gently from their first day of life. Our puppies are accustomed to being examined from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tails daily. Remaining calm during handling and gentle restraint is essential for future handling. Our puppies have the opportunity to socialize with all age groups as well as with a variety of farm animals. They are also introduced to the sights and smells of the pastures and forests that surround us.
It is our priority to give our puppies the opportunity to experience many of the things they will encounter throughout their lives. We feel that doing so in a safe, controlled environment will assist in building their confidence gradually without creating fear responses.
A puppy that has been gently introduced to potentially stressful situations will learn to react with a calm and trusting demeanor.
We feel it is our responsibility as the breeder to use early intervention to help each pup's brain reach it's full potential.
Every experience a puppy has will stimulate neural development. This results in brain development. As the brain develops, so does the ability to learn which stimulates more neural development. By managing their environment we can therefore influence the final form and structure of his brain.
With this in mind we have puppy play gyms and a puppy challenge course that encourages our puppies to problem solve during play. We also expose our puppies to a variety of toys that encourage cognitive development.