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. This program changes a lot as we learn more about how our puppies fare in their new homes. We are always trying to improve the Bright from the Start Program. We believe learning and improving are never finished, and we believe we can always strive for a happier, more confident puppy with each litter.
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 homemade 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 puppy’s lives at our home, they are handled very regularly. Between the ages of 4 weeks and 8 weeks, they are given several baths, their nails trimmed regularly, and are treated to daily de-sensitization training on their paws, bellies, ears, and sanitary regions. This helps them become comfortable and familiar with grooming.
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 puppy’s 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, and 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 it’s 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. We don’t believe a puppy can be well-rounded unless it develops a sense of itself and its surroundings – cultivating confidence and stimulating brain growth by allowing puppies to experience and explore the world around them is the goal!
Step Three – Potty Training. Potty training actually begins very early. By keeping their living area very clean and giving them access to a designated potty area, your Edenbright puppy will have the very best start with housebreaking. We have had so many owners of our puppies contact us weeks after their puppy went home only to tell us that they have never had a puppy that was so easy to potty train. By not using any kind of puppy pads or artificial products, and by training them that the potty area is located through a door, many of our puppies instinctively know to go to the door for potty or playtime.
Our puppies are also lightly introduced to crates, leashes, and harnesses, and, when we can during handling, we like to try and get them to learn the sit command. They don’t really retain the command, but it teaches them that a treat comes after a command.
Step Four – Socialization. Socialization is probably the most important part of this program. We begin by allowing mama access to her babies when she wants to see them (trust me, she will let us know!) 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 are 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!