August 2012 Sneak Peek
Keeping Up With Pup: Early Neurological StimulationBy Adam DePriest
A few years ago I used to do this crazy thing called coon hunting. During this time I, along with many other coon hunters, subscribed to the magazine American Cooner. My primary reason for subscribing was not to look at the fancy stud dog ads or the nite hunt results, but instead I eagerly anticipated the arrival of American Cooner to read the monthly article published by John Wick. As a novice cooner, it was enjoyable and educational for me to read the experiences and training methods of an experienced coon hunter. The articles that I enjoyed the most were a series of articles by Mr. Wick that followed his training with a young coonhound. These were very beneficial because I was able to see the progression of this hound and apply the training techniques implemented by Mr. Wick to my own hounds.
Shortly after my parents purchased Hounds and Hunting, I knew I wanted to develop a similar series following a beagle from a puppy to a finished hound. Due to circumstances and some laziness, I am just now getting around to taking on this endeavor. Now let me preface these next several articles by saying I am by no means an experienced houndsman. I am quite certain this will be more of a learning experience for me than for you. My vision for this series is more of a discussion among myself and the readers than a lecture of “how to’s.” As these articles progress, I encourage all of you to send in your input via mail, e-mail, and Facebook. Your expertise will benefit me, fellow readers, and most importantly, the pup.
Before I begin discussing the stimulation, socialization, and training of (as of yet unnamed) Pup, let me briefly identify my goals for Pup. As a handler of Wingate Kennels, many of you know that my competition preference is the Two Couple Pack format. Along with competing in TCP, I also thoroughly enjoy rabbit hunting. Therefore, my two long- term goals for Pup are to develop an AKC Master Hunter as well as an excellent hunting companion. Both of these goals require a balanced hound that is easy to handle, exposed to different people, hounds, and environments, and a proficient hunter. Now obviously this hound must possess other characteristics such as a good nose, medium speed, smooth running style, and a noncompetitive nature. However, I personally feel that I have no control over these latter traits. In my opinion, these were all determined at conception.
Now that we have identified where we are going, let’s begin talking about how we are going to get there. Unlike some of you, I have the privilege of being the handler of the bitch, so my interaction with Pup began the day it was born. My first step in taking Pup to a finished hound was a process called early neurological stimulation developed by the U.S. Military in their canine program. Early neurological stimulation (ENS) is a series of five exercises that take place days 3 to 16. Each exercise lasts 3 to 5 seconds and is only to be done once a day. The first of the five exercises is called tactile stimulation which involves tickling the pup between the toes on one foot. This is immediately followed by holding the pup’s head erect so that the pup’s body is perpendicular to the ground. Once this exercise is completed, then hold the pup perpendicular to the ground again but with the head down. Follow this with the supine position which simply means lay the pup on it’s back in the palm of your hands. Lastly, begin the thermal stimulation where you set the pup belly down on a damp towel that has been cooled in the refrigerator for at least 5 minutes. Let me stress again, these exercises are to only be done once a day and no more than 3 to 5 seconds.
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At this point I understand many of you are probably thinking this sounds like a waste of time and a bunch of hog wash. While this may be the case, bear with me while I identify the benefits of ENS and my specific reasons for doing ENS for the first time. To begin with, the five main benefits identified by researchers in their observations are the following:
1. Improved cardiovascular performance (heart rate)
2. Stronger heart beats
3. Stronger adrenal glands
4. More tolerance to stress, and
5. Greater resistance to disease