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 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 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. We don’t believe a puppy can be well-rounded unless it develops a sense of itself and it’s surroundings – cultivating confidence and stimulating brain growth by allowing puppies to experience and explore the world around them is the goal!
Step Three – Training. At six weeks, the puppies begin light training. They are typically no longer sleeping with Mama (usually by 4 weeks mama will choose to sleep just outside of the whelping area on her own) and are put into wire dog crates to sleep. They are let out at night every 3 or 4 hours to potty. 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 – dogs are naturally clean animals and keeping that area dry and clean from accidents is imperative. 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.
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!