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Nurturing the Resilient Puppy: The Vital Role of Early Socialization

Have you ever heard of Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) and Early Scent Introduction (ESI)?  These essential practices play a crucial role in shaping the development and well-being of newborn puppies.  Let’s dive into why socialization during life's early stages is vital for our furry companions.

Understanding ENS:

ENS involves a series of gentle exercises introduced to newborn puppies between days 3 and 16 of their lives.  These exercises aim to stimulate the neurological system and build resilience.  Here’s a glimpse into the techniques:

  • Tactile Stimulation-  Gently hold each puppy in specific positions for 5 seconds each: Head Up, Head Down, Supine (on back), and on a cool towel.

  • Cotton Bud Stimulation- Rub cotton buds on the puppy’s toes to introduce mild stresses.

The Importance of ENS:

ENS introduces puppies to mild stresses in a controlled manner, improving their stress responses later in life.  It stimulates their neurological system and enhances growth, immune function, and cardiovascular health.  Developed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia, these exercises may seem brief, but their long-term benefits are profound.

Exploring ESI:

ESE, developed by Dr. Gayle Watkins, exposes puppies to various natural scents from days 3 to 16 of their lives.  This practice helps familiarize puppies with different scents and their responses.  Here’s how it works:

  • Introducing Scents- Using 13 natural scents, each puppy is presented with the scent, and their response is recorded as to whether they had a positive, negative, or neutral response.

ESI should be performed at a different time of the day than ENS.  If the puppies are feeling mild stress from the ENS, you do not want them to associate the stress with the novel scents that are being introduced.

Why ENS and ESI Matter:

These practices contribute to desensitization, helping puppies become less reactive to stressors and fostering better-coping skills.  Puppies raised with ENS and ESI exhibit long-term resilience and can handle stressful situations more effectively.  It’s essential to recognize that up to 65% of a puppy's performance is influenced by their environment, emphasizing the importance of early socialization.

These exercises are not a substitute for our normal play, handling, and socialization activities with our litters.  They are intended to add to the puppy’s development.  Socialization protocols with puppies can significantly increase their confidence and resilience, meaning a happier life.

As a passionate breeder committed to the well-being of every puppy, Happy Top Doodles understands the importance of early socialization in shaping their future.  By prioritizing practices like Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) and Early Scent Introduction (ESI), we aim to provide the foundation for resilient, well-adjusted companions who will 

bring joy and happiness into your life for years to come.  Join us in this journey of nurturing happy and healthy puppies.  Visit to learn more and begin your rewarding journey of puppy parenthood today. 

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We start introducing the concept of litter box training to our puppies at just a few weeks old. By the time our puppies go home to their new families they are well on the road to being kennel trained and housebroken. The video shares a little more about our pen setups and how we inplement our training.


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