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Raising our Puppies

The "Puppy Culture" Way


Why use Puppy Culture?

When we launched our Bernedoodles of NC breeding program, we wanted to focus attention beyond the genetic makeup and beautiful tri-color patters of our puppies. We desired to send puppies to their forever homes ready to thrive in their new environments through:


  • house-training implementation 

  • proper socialization

  • emotional intelligence development


Puppy Culture is a hands-on program developed by Jane Killion, a professional dog trainer and breeder, that sets puppies and their forever families up for lifelong success.

Neonatal Period


Puppies enjoy the security of a stable, monitored nursery environment.  We weigh our puppies every morning to track growth, but also begin Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) exercises at just two days old. This period is a time of rapid neurological growth and development. Even though puppies are very immature during this time frame, they are sensitive and respond to ENS. ENS requires handling the puppies one at a time while performing a series of five exercises for a duration of 3-5 seconds each. 


  1. Tactile Stimulation – Holding the puppy in one hand, and gently stimulate (tickle) the puppy between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. 

  2. Head Held Erect – Using both hands, the puppy is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. 

  3. Head Pointed Down – Holding the puppy firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground.

  4. Supine Position – Hold the puppy so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its face facing the ceiling. 

  5. Thermal Stimulation— Use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the puppy on the towel, feet down. 


Transitional Period

2 - 3 weeks

Behavioral markers are used to identify the beginning and end of each developmental period because every puppy is different and these timelines are simply guidelines.


Around the two week mark, the puppies eyes open. Thus commences the "transitional period."  This time frame is over when the puppies first startle upon hearing sounds. 


Individual ENS is continued during this period with puppies moving onto the next phase of the program as they develop startle reflex. 

Critical Socialization Period

3 - 8 weeks

Toys, playtime, and curiosity abound during this period.  Most dog owners think of socializing puppies as exposing them to as many different experiences as possible while they are young.  That is only part of the process.  Our end goal is raising dogs that have the emotional intelligence to connect with you.


Emotional intelligence can be taught to young puppies across 7 key areas. 


  1. Communication – giving a puppy their own voice (power up clicker, box game, patiently waiting, and attention/distraction protocols)

  2. Emotional Stability – the ability to recover easily from fear as well as stress (startle recovery,  barrier challenges)

  3. Habituation – familiarity with the maximum number of things (noises, meeting different people, dogs, other animals)

  4. Enrichment – the view that novelty and challenges are opportunities for enrichment rather than things to be feared or avoided 

  5. Health – physical wellness and motor skills that will allow the puppy to develop in a neurologically and physically sound way (daily weight checks, grooming, vaccinations, deworming, proper nutrition, vet health checks)

  6. Skills – learned behaviors which allow him to function in human society (recall, sitting, simple commands, potty training, and crate training)

  7. Love – the desire to seek out the company of both dogs and humans as emotionally positive experiences (shaping emotional responses, Happy and Calm CER (Conditioned Emotional Responses),daily cuddles with humans and mom).


Go Home Period

8 - 12 weeks

Embarking on their new journey to their forever home begins this period.  It is important to note that the Puppy Culture practices we have started during the puppies first couple months with us, can (and should!) be continued at home. 

Bernedoodles of NC sets our families up for success by demonstrating the training the puppies are accustomed to: 

  • Sit on cue

  • Come when called. 

  • Give up a toy.

  • Clipping nails, grooming, etc.

  • Crate Training - Puppies nap in crate with door open.

  • Crate Training - Nap in crate with door closed.

  • House Training - potty mats

Continuing to practice these skills and train your puppy in new ones will help minimize adjustment time and fast-track the "fur-ever" bond. 

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