effects can be achieved via early neurological stimulation.
Surprising as it may seem, it isn’t capacity that explains
the differences that exist between individuals because most seem
to have far more capacity than they will ever use. The differences
that exist between individuals seems to be related to something
else. The ones who achieve and out perform others seem to have
within themselves the ability to use hidden resources. In other
words, it’s what they are able to do with what they have
that makes the difference.
In many animal breeding programs the entire process
of selection and management is founded on the belief that performance
is inherited. It has only been in recent decades that good estimates
of habitability of performance have been based on adequate data.
Cunningham (1991) in his study of horses found that only by using
Timeform data, and measuring groups of half brothers and half
sisters could good estimates of performance be determined. His
data shows that performance for speed is about 35 o/o heritable.
In other words only about 35 o/o of all the variation that is
observed in track performance is controlled by heritable factors,
the remaining 65 o/o is attributable to other influences, such
as training, management and nutrition. Cunningham’s work
while limited to horses provides a good basis for understanding
how much breeders can attribute to the genetics and the pedigrees.
Researchers have studied this phenomena and have
looked for new ways to stimulate individuals in order to improve
their natural abilities. Some of the methods discovered have produced
life long lasting effects. Today, many of the differences between
individuals can now be explained by the use of early stimulation
Man has tried
many methods to improve performance. Some of the methods
have stood the test of time, others have not. We now know that
early life is a time when the physical immaturity of an organism
is susceptible and responsive to a restricted but important class
Newborn pups are uniquely different than adults
in several respects. When born there eyes are closed and their
digestive system has limited capacity requiring a periodic stimulation
by their dam that routinely licks them in order to promote digestion.
At this age they are only able to smell, suck, and crawl. Body
temperature is maintained by snuggling close to their mother or
by crawling into piles with other littermates.
first few weeks of immobility researchers noted that
these immature and under-developed canines are sensitive to a
restricted class of stimuli, which includes thermal, and tactile
stimulation, motion and locomotion. Studies show that removing
them from their nest for three minutes each day during the first
five to ten days of life causes body temperatures to fall below
normal. This mild form of stress is sufficient to stimulate hormonal,
adrenal and pituitary systems. When tested later as adults, these
same animals were better able to withstand stress than littermates
who were not exposed to the same early stress exercises. As adults,
they responded to stress in ‘a graded’ fashion, while
their non-stressed litter mates responded in an ‘all or
nothing way.’ When tested for differences in health and
disease, the stressed animals were found to be more resistant
to certain forms of cancer and infectious diseases.
involving early stimulation exercises have been successfully
performed on both cats and dogs. In these studies it was shown
that pups and kittens when given early stimulation exercises mature
at faster rates and perform better in certain problem solving
tests than non-stimulated littermates. These results show that
early stimulation exercises can have positive results but must
be used with caution. Too much stress can cause pathological adversities
rather than physical or psychological superiority.
The U.S. Military in their canine program developed
a method that still serves as a guide to what works. In an effort
to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes,
a program called “Bio Sensor” was developed. Later,
it became better known to the public as the “Super Dog”
program. Based on years of research, the military learned that
early neurological stimulation exercises could have important
and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific
time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum
results. The first period involves a window of time that begins
at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It
is believed that because this interval of time is a period of
rapid neurological growth and developments, and therefore is of
great importance to the individual.
The “Bio Sensor” program was also
concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give
the dogs a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises,
which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each
work-out involved handling puppies once each day. The work-outs
required handling them one at a time while performing a series
of five exercises. Listed in no order of preference the handler
starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises.
The handler completes the series from beginning to end before
starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per
day involves the following exercises:
1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)
2. Head held erect
3. Head pointed down
4. Supine position
5. Thermal stimulation
the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles)
the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip.
It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle.
Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.
Head Held Erect
both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground,
(straight up), so that it’s head is directly above
it’s tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation
the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is
pointed downward so that it is pointing toward the ground.
Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.
the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands
with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back
is allowed to sleep, struggle. Time of stimulation is 3-5
a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator
for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel,
feet down. Do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation
exercises will produce neurological stimulations,
one of which naturally occur during this early period of life.
Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises,
others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered
to those who plan to use them. DO NOT REPEAT THEM MORE THAN ONCE
PER DAY and do not extend the time beyond that recommended for
each exercise. Over stimulation of the neurological system can
have adverse and detrimental results. These exercises impact the
neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would
be normally expected. The result being an increased capacity that
later will help to make the difference in its performance. Those
who play with their pups and routinely handle them should continue
to do so because the neurological exercises are not substitutions
for routine handling, play, socialization or bonding.
have observed in canines who were exposed to
the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises. The benefits noted were:
1. improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
2. stronger heart beats
3. stronger adrenal glands
4. more tolerance to stress
5. greater resistance to disease
tests of learning, stimulated pups were found
to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-stimulated
littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.
effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple
problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non stimulated
pups became extremely aroused, wined a great deal, and made many
errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset
by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated
litter mates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer
errors and gave only an occasional distress signal when stressed.