November 8, 2023

Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy Curriculum

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Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy Curriculum

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What is puppy curriculum and why does it matter to you as a potential dog owner?

Our puppy curriculum is a carefully structured and tailored service dog curriculum designed to enhance the development and character of puppies during their crucial early weeks and months.

It matters immensely to you as a potential dog owner because it plays a pivotal role in shaping your future canine companion. By helping our puppies develop nerve strength, problem solving skills and a belief in their own abilities, we are empowering them to live to their full potential. Our curriculum is so much more then early potty training, or crate training habits, but we cover that too!

in this blog post, we’ll provide a brief rundown of what our puppy curriculum entails and our goals for it.

What is the Goals of Our Service Dog Puppy Curriculum?

The whole purpose of our curriculum is to set our pups up for success and empower our dogs to believe 3 things: 

The world is a safe place. 

People are good. 

I am brave. 

We like to call this stage “puppy preschool.” It’s like a gentle intro to what’s coming next. Your pup has aced Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) and Early Scent Introduction (ESI) and is ready for the next level. 

In our program, that means noise exposure, 10 step desensitization massages, early crate exposure and exposure fun in the whelping box. Noise exposure kicks in as soon as their ears open, helping them desensitize to city noises, fireworks, thunderstorms, sirens etc. We like to play some old bachata/salsa and classical music to lull them to sleep at bedtime and recommend you do the same when they’re at home.

Week 3- Puppy School Begins

Starting in week 3, your pup gets accustomed to a 10-step desensitization “puppy massage.” This prepares them for real world scenarios while showing them that the world is a friendly place. We send this tutorial home with you, to continue. 

Then there’s “puppy school,” or as we like to call it, whelping box exposure. Your pup gets to explore some safe and fun stuff right in their familiar whelping box. We’re talking stuffed animals, different textures, fake plants, read a loud stories, and everyday items. 

By putting these new items directly in their whelping box, we make the transition from hanging out with Mom and siblings to “big kid school” super smooth. 

The idea is to introduce them to safe things they can investigate without any worries. They can sniff, chew, taste and crawl all over these items in the safety of their home, which is awesome for brain development and building their confidence.

We’re also starting potty training, with a separate space for them to do their business away from where they snooze. We’ve all heard the saying, “Dogs don’t poop where they sleep,” right? Well, we’re teaching them this golden rule right from the get-go.

Week 5-6: Kindergarten Adventures

After a week of “puppy preschool,” your little one is ready to transition to “kindergarten,” where they’ll face more challenging experiences. We continue to guide them gently and at their own pace, but our curriculum is all about building their confidence, helping them conquer obstacles, and facing challenges fearlessly.

 School happens outside of the whelping box now. Your puppy will move from their cozy box to their “big kid” area, where Mama can drop by for nursing sessions, and they’ll start enjoying some soaked kibble meals as they begin the weaning process.

In kindergarten, your pup will encounter tougher challenges than they did in the whelping box. We start with stationary items like stuffed toys and ropes, then move to things with subtle movement, such as ping pong balls, and eventually introduce objects with more significant movements like big balls. If a puppy hesitates to explore new items, we use our voices and hands to gently encourage them. We never force a puppy into situations that scare them or do activities for them. It’s crucial for a puppy’s development that they learn to do things themselves. We always aim to empower our puppies, not do everything for them.

Week 7-8: Elementary School Adventures

After a couple of weeks in our “little-pup” puppy school, your puppy is probably ready for some more exciting challenges. Get ready for the real fun!

In the final weeks of their stay with us, we’ll ask more of your puppy. They’ll be encouraged to walk over a grate, try out a ramp, explore objects with wheels like a wheelchair, tackle an obstacle course, engage in dog brain games, and learn to focus amidst various distractions from above. 

They’ll also have a blast with a ball pit, water-filled tubs, and an array of toys, take car rides, meet new people (biosecurity practiced), and more. 

We specifically focus on meeting safe ( vaccinated and temperamentally loving ) dogs in this period. 
We introduce livestock for our LGD prospects. 

And we introduce humans with different mannerisms, skin colors, ethnicities etc. Dogs are highly situational and we focus on positive experiences in various environments. 

When they’re not in school, they’ll have playtime with their siblings and enjoy a variety of toys in their kennel. But let’s be real – they’ll still sleep for a good part of the day!

Realistic Expectations for Your Puppy

Our puppy preschool lays a strong foundation, focusing on early socialization and basic training in a nurturing environment. But your puppy will come home to you as a very normal puppy, with normal puppy needs. They will have accidents, they will cry occasionally in their crates, they need boundaries, physical exercise, and love.

They will need you to continue to honor their personality and empower them for success.

Consistent training and reinforcement at home are essential to build upon the skills and behaviors we introduced. We’re here to guide and support you, but once they go home they aren’t “finished.’ It’s your turn now…and we believe in you!

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