Golden Heart Cream’s “Jump Start Puppy Program”
We are excited to share with you about our incredible program of how we raise our English cream Golden Retriever puppies from birth to when they are ready to go to their new homes. We believe in much more than just breeding and selling puppies – we're all about giving them the best possible start in life.
Our approach is all about understanding and nurturing the neurological development of each puppy. We take great care and intuition to assess their developmental stage and work towards enriching and supporting them to thrive.
We have incorporated and embraced the "Puppy Culture” Program in raising our puppies. We also have a certified trainer to help us with the Volhard Puppy Attitude Test (PAT). We do the PAT when the puppies are 7 weeks old so that we can see what areas we can continue to work on our puppies and also get a good picture of how to match puppies with the needs of each home and/or work that they will be involved in.
Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS)
ENS also known as the “Super Dog” Program was developed by the US military in an effort to improve the performance of the canine unit and give the dogs a super advantage. From years of research, they learned that ENS could have significant and lasting effects in the attempt to improve their stress responses later in life and improve the well-being of their canine partners.
It involves applying gentle, specific stressors to a very young animal for short periods of time, which is performed when the puppies are 3 days to 16 days old.
Benefits that have been observed with puppies that receive ENS are:
Improved cardiovascular performance (heart rate)
Stronger adrenal glands
Greater tolerance to stress
Healthier immune system
Early Scent Introduction (ESI)
At Golden Heart Creams, ESI is performed at the same time as ENS. During this crucial brain development period we can take advantage of the brain's unique ability of neuroplasticity.
It has been shown to increase success in hunt tests, “nosework”, search and rescue work, obedience, tracking, and more. For service dogs, it has contributed to better performance (such as with Search and Rescue and Medical Alert dogs.) Breeders have seen improvements in confidence and stability and a more optimistic attitude towards life and with that, fewer behavior problems.
We also start socializing our puppies at around 3-4 weeks old, first gradually introducing them to new environments, and then to new people, always considering their comfort and safety. It is important to say that each litter and dam is different. We always take into consideration the well-being of our dogs. The mother dog leads the show (for timing of allowing strangers in, to making visits, length of visits, etc.) The comfort of the mother and puppies are paramount! We are very close and connected with our dogs and can intuitively tell what is right for them.
Puppies are born blind and deaf. When they are born, the senses that help them navigate initially are their smell and touch. They begin to hear around 3 weeks old. We begin to introduce an array of sounds and noises that they will experience in the future, conditioning their nervous systems to be familiar with them. Our goal is for them to be less prone to startle and fear, in turn, leading to more secure and well-adjusted companions.
Around 3-4 weeks, before their 1st '”fear period" (which happens around week 5), we will continue to desensitize them to louder noises so we can evoke a "startle and recovery reflex" which is quite normal and actually very healthy for the developing autonomic nervous system, the aspect of the nervous system responsible for fight, flight and freeze behavior. This will help them to better deal with noises that are loud and unexpected. Our desire is for them not to be frightened of common loud noises like thunderstorms, fireworks, machinery, or sirens. Our program hopes to develop well-rounded dogs that can confidently navigate the rich world around them.
Introduction to Potty/Crate Training
At around 3 weeks old, when our puppies move out of the whelping box (which is in a room in our house), they will move into their puppy den, which is our garage that has been converted into an area specific to their training and needs (see pics elsewhere on our website) where they will have a litter box. As they get a little older, they will have access to an outside area along with their grassy puppy play yard. All of our adult dogs have free daily access to our fenced-in backyard, which includes over an acre of woods and is surrounded by 6 acres of woods.
Dogs in the wild create enclosed dens. The crate mimics a safe, natural living den area. We will introduce an open crate into their larger puppy den so they will be able to comfortably come and go and sleep in it as they desire. Closer to when they are ready to go home, we will start giving them some individual time alone in the crate. Everyone can have a chance to enjoy a nice meaty bone in the crate or a short nap; they will feel comfortable and at home in their crate.
Crate training will be your biggest advantage to potty training and having a secure puppy without separation anxiety. We use the crate as a safe zone for our pups.
Preparing to go Home
We want the best start for our puppies no matter what life they will be entering. Our dogs will be entering into all sorts of living situations, from service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs, to family dogs! We hope to have given you a glimpse into the time, energy, and mostly love and compassion that we will be investing in these beautiful beings. We send them into the world with the greatest hope that they will make an impactful imprint on the hearts of many, especially yours!