Bright From the Start is a curated development enhancement plan implemented by myself and my husband after years of working with animals and many sleepless nights of research and trial and error. Some of what you will find below comes straight from my grooming table – I’ve spent countless hours training and handling very young puppies in desensitization, socialization and proper table behavior – some of it is from my husband’s knowledge of hunting and working with Brittanys in the field and understanding how to create an environment that plants the seeds for confident, well balanced puppies. Below you will find a step by step version of the plan that all Edenbright Brittany puppies participate in from day one.
Step One – Nutrition and Handling. Nutrition is the true cornerstone of this program. Edenbright Puppies are left with their mother for the first five weeks. We do not force wean our puppies. Mama has important lessons to teach her babies, even after their teeth come in and they begin to lose their suckling reflex. So, naturally, we start with the health and nutrition of our Mamas. Our Dams are free fed high quality dry dog food (Purina Pro Plan Active and/or Hills Science Diet Active) along with daily supplemental feedings of nutritionally balanced home-made dog food. We include natural wholesome ingredients. This provides Mama with extra nutrition to feed her babies.
The puppies begin their nutritional journey the week before Mama will wean (mama will give many signs that she is almost ready to wean. We watch for the signs and begin supplementing the puppies with puppy food). Because their little tummies are developing, we do not feed our puppies any type of table or homemade food. Instead they start on a diet of high quality replacement puppy milk and Purina Pro Plan Healthy Puppy Food.
During the entire 8 weeks of the puppies lives at our home, they are handled very regularly. Between the ages of 4 weeks and 8 weeks, they are given two baths a week, their nails trimmed once a week with a Dremel, and daily de-sensitization training on their paws, bellies, ears and sanitary regions prepares them for regular handling at the vet and at the groomers. It also introduces them to loud noises, such as velocity dryers.
Step Two – Play and Environment. As soon as the puppies begin to walk, see and hear (usually after three weeks) we introduce different textures, sounds and smells to the puppies environment. All the way up until they are ready for their new homes, Edenbright Puppies will have played with a myriad of cognitively interesting toys, heard the sounds of a household (television, music, phones ringing, running laughing children, dogs barking, pots clanking) and experienced many different indoor and outdoor environments. While that may not seem like its very important, many breeders do not allow their puppies to experience grass, dirt or carpet. Many breeders keep their puppies in a kennel until time to go home. This allows the breeder to have a job outside of the home. At Edenbright Brittanys, our dogs are my full-time job and therefore I am able to create situations that the puppies can play and learn in safely under my supervision.
Step Three – Training. At five weeks, the puppies begin training. They are removed from sleeping with Mama (by this time, mama is usually sleeping on her on) and are put into wire dog crates to sleep. They are let out at night every 3 hours to potty. During the day, they spend one out of every four hours napping in their crate. This allows the puppy to become accustomed to the crate. When used correctly, the crate is an invaluable training tool. By the time Edenbright puppies are 8 weeks old, they have spent many nights in the crate and I have increased the night time stints in those crates to 6 hours. This means that by the time they go home, most of our puppies have gotten used to sleeping, pottying and waking on a schedule. That schedule can be easily adjusted to fit your specific needs when they go home. By creating a den environment for these puppies early on we have set up the basis for easy housebreaking. While it’s impossible for any puppy to be fully housebroken at 8 weeks, by the time our puppies go home they can sleep several hours a night without incident and are happily ready to potty outside upon waking.
Between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks, Edenbright Puppies are ready to become accustomed to a harness, collar and leash. We begin by introducing these tools to the puppies everyday and actively allowing them to become used to them before using the last week at our home to familiarize them with what we call “travel manners”. That is pottying and walking on the leash without trying to make it a toy.
Step Four – Socialization. Socialization is probably the most important part of this program. We begin by allowing mama free access to her babies at all times (except nap time after 5 weeks) for the duration of their lives here at Edenbright Kennels. Mama has a lot to teach her little ones, like bite inhibition, doggy language and how to be submissive. Our puppies are also socialized with the family children. Brittanys as a breed and notoriously good with children, often allowing small children to pull, push, roll and tug without incident. Our Brittanys are no different, and our puppies get a special start!