Unleashing the Power of Super Dog Exercises: A Crucial Step for Dog Breeders in Early Puppy Development

My mission is to help you have a healthier dog and breeders to raise healthier Llewellin Setters puppies through educational content based on over twenty years raising, training, and breeding Llewellin Setters. To help support these efforts, this page may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Behind every exceptional dog lies a solid foundation of early development, and dog breeders have a vital role to play in shaping the future of these incredible animals. An essential technique is the use of Super Dog Exercises during the first days of a pup’s life. For under a minute everyday from the 3rd–16th day of life makes significant, long-lasting benefits for both puppies and their future owners.

Understanding Super Dog Exercises:

Super Dog Exercises, also known as Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) or Bio Sensor Program, were developed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia, a renowned breeder and researcher. This program involves a series of simple, yet carefully designed exercises aimed at stimulating a pup’s neurological system during a critical period of early development, between the third and sixteenth days of life. These exercises include handling the puppy in specific ways, such as thermal stimulation, head-held erect, head pointed down, supine position, and a gentle tickling touch between the toes and on the belly.

Beautiful litter of llewellin setter puppies

The Importance of Early Neurological Stimulation:

  1. Enhanced Neurological Development: During the first few days of a puppy’s life, their neurological system is rapidly developing. By engaging them in Super Dog Exercises, breeders can promote the growth and maturation of the neural pathways, leading to improved brain function and increased capacity for learning and adaptation.
  2. Stress Adaptation: Super Dog Exercises expose puppies to mild stressors in a controlled environment. This controlled stress helps them develop resilience and adaptability, enabling them to handle future challenges with more ease. Puppies that undergo these exercises often exhibit better stress management skills throughout their lives.
  3. Improved Cardiovascular Health: The exercises involved in the Super Dog Program, such as thermal stimulation and supine positioning, trigger a mild stress response that results in increased heart rate. This cardiovascular workout promotes the healthy development of the pup’s heart, leading to improved overall cardiovascular health.
  4. Enhanced Immune Function: Studies have shown that early stimulation exercises can boost the puppy’s immune system. The gentle stressors applied during Super Dog Exercises activate the release of stress hormones, which play a role in strengthening the immune response. Puppies that undergo these exercises tend to have a more robust immune system, reducing the risk of infections and diseases later in life.
  5. Improved Sensory Acuity: The various handling techniques involved in Super Dog Exercises expose puppies to different sensations, sounds, and positions. This sensory exposure helps puppies develop heightened awareness and responsiveness to their environment, leading to improved sensory acuity and better adaptation to various stimuli.
  6. Bonding and Socialization: Super Dog Exercises create opportunities for breeders to establish a bond with the puppies early on. The gentle touch and interaction during these exercises foster trust and positive associations, setting the foundation for healthy human-canine relationships. Additionally, as the puppies go through these exercises together, they develop a sense of camaraderie and socialization skills, which are crucial for their future interactions with other dogs and humans.

The Super Dog Program Exercises:

  1. Thermal Stimulation: This exercise involves gently touching the puppy with a warm towel or cloth. The objective is to provide a different temperature sensation than the puppy is accustomed to, simulating a mild stressor. This can be done by placing the puppy on a warm surface or using a warmed cloth to stroke their body. It is important to ensure the temperature is comfortable and not too hot to avoid any harm to the puppy.
  2. Head-Held Erect: Hold the puppy upright, supporting their body, and position their head in an upward direction. This exercise helps stimulate the muscles and balance mechanisms in the neck and head region. It also encourages the development of neck strength and coordination.
  3. Head Pointed Down: Gently hold the puppy with their body supported and position their head downward, towards the ground. This exercise aids in the development of balance and proprioception (awareness of body position and movement). It also stimulates different muscle groups and encourages coordination.
  4. Supine Position: Place the puppy on their back, exposing their belly. Support their body and ensure they are comfortable. This position helps the puppy develop relaxation and trust while also promoting muscular coordination. It can be done while gently stroking their belly or engaging in positive interaction to create a positive association with this position.
  5. Gentle Tickling Touch: Using your fingertips, lightly tickle or stroke the puppy’s body, particularly their feet, legs, and the areas between their toes. This exercise stimulates the puppy’s tactile senses, contributing to their sensory development and body awareness.

Remember, the key to these exercises is gentle handling and gradual exposure to different sensations. The purpose is to provide mild stressors that promote the puppy’s neurological development, without causing any distress or harm. It’s essential to prioritize the safety and comfort of the puppies throughout the process.

Here is a video illustrating the exercises and an interview with Dr. Carmen Battaglia:

By incorporating these exercises into the early stages of a pup’s life, breeders can foster healthy development, resilience, and socialization skills, setting the stage for a well-rounded and adaptable canine companion.

The importance of early puppy development cannot be overstated, and Super Dog Exercises provide an invaluable tool for breeders to shape the foundation of a puppy’s life. By incorporating these exercises during the critical early stages, breeders can promote enhanced neurological development, stress adaptation, cardiovascular health, immune function, sensory acuity, and socialization. The long-lasting benefits of these exercises extend beyond the initial puppy stage, positively impacting the dog’s overall well-being and the relationship they forge with their future owners.

Embracing Super Dog Exercises as an integral part of the breeding process is a testament to a breeder’s commitment to producing healthy, resilient, and well-rounded dogs that enrich the lives of their owners in countless ways. I’ve experienced this countless times in my own litters and pups I kept and raised versus pups obtained where the Super Dog exercises were not implemented. The difference is remarkable and so much so that I recommend that this should be one of the first questions you ask any breeder you are considering obtaining a pup from.

In hopes of helping to raise better, smarter, more resilient, and well-rounded Llewellin Setters, the quintessential upland gun dog.



Breeding Better Dogs. (n.d.). Early Neurological Stimulation. Retrieved from https://breedingbetterdogs.com/article/early-neurological-stimulation