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  • Writer's pictureKristin Leest

What is Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) & Early Scent Introduction (ESI)

You may not have heard of ENS or ESI, but we agree with experts that these exercises are important for a healthier, better dog. That is why we make sure that each of our puppies from 3-16 days old practice these exercises. Day 3-16 is believed to be a time of rapid neurological growth & development.

So what are ENS & ESI? Glad you asked!

Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS)

Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) is a process that we have been doing that introduces mild stresses to young puppies in a controlled way. These stresses help stimulate the neurological system which improves the growth and development of the pup’s immune system, cardiovascular system, and stress tolerance. ENS was developed by the US military and known as the "Bio Sensor Program," and later referred to by the public as the "Super Dog Program." ENS is believed by some experts to enhance the natural abilities of dogs and give them a superior advantage. It involves subjecting pups aged 3-16 days to 5 forms of stimulation that lead to “stress.” It is said to benefit puppy development in 5 ways:

· Improved heart rate

· Stronger heartbeats

· Stronger adrenal glands

· Better tolerance to stress

· Greater resistance to disease

If you are wondering what type of exercises are used, it is quite simple:

· Tactical stimulation-stimulate the bottom of the paw pad with a cotton swab

· Hold puppy's head up for 3-5 seconds

· Hold puppy's head gently down for 3-5 seconds

· Hold puppy on his back for 3-5 seconds

· Put the puppy's belly down on a cool towel for 3-5 seconds

These 5 painless and simple exercises are done to prepare our pups for their life’s journey. Only 30 seconds a day for 2 weeks and we see a great improvement in their immune systems and stress tolerances. We will continue to do Early Neurological Stimulation on our pups because we see the benefits and know it helps them grow into lovable canine citizens.

Early Scent Introduction (ESI)

Early Scent Introduction (ESI) is done in conjunction with the ENS training. ESI is designed to enhance a puppy's ability to identify and react to specific scents. Fun Fact, the area in a dog's brain that processes data picked up by the nose is 40 times larger than in a human brain. So, we could say that a dog’s ability to smell is a function of its intellect.

How ESI is done:

Simple! We introduce a new scent each day starting on Day 3 & ending on Day 16 of the puppy's life. We use items such as grass, bark, dirt, pine cones, fruit, herbs, leather, wood, tennis balls, cats, birds, and essential oils, but no treats or food items. We watch to see if the pup engages and for how long. That's it!

Example of the Test Items:

Day 3 Soil

Day 4 Pine Shavings

Day 5 Cinnamon

Day 6 Star Anise

Day 7 Lavender

Day 8 Black Tea

Day 9 Tennis Ball

Day 10 Coconut

Day 11 Leather

Day 12 Rabbit Hair

Day 13 Chamomile

Day 14 Alpaca Fur

Day 15 Cloves

Day 16 Lemongrass

If something this simple can improve their abilities as service or therapy dogs, we are all in!!


1. Battaglia, C.L., "Loneliness and Boredom" Doberman Quarterly, 1982.

2. Kellogg, W.N. & Kellogg, The Ape and the Child, New York: McGraw Hill.

3. Scott & Fuller, (1965) Dog Behavior -The Genetic Basics, University Chicago Press.

4. Scott, J.P., Ross, S., A.E. and King D.K. (1959) The Effects of Early Enforced Weaning Behavior of Puppies, J. Genetics Psychologist, p 5: 261-81.

Early Stimulation Exercises

Figure 1 Tactical stimulation

Figure 2 Head held erect

Figure 3 Head pointed down

Figure 4 Figure Supine position

Figure 5 Thermal stimulation

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