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ENS and ENI for newborn puppies

Puppy raising tips: Introducing ENS and ESI puppy stimulation exercises

by | Jul 13, 2022 | 0 comments

Early socialisation is crucial to the development of your puppies. Outside of the usual puppy socialisation protocols, there are two early puppy stimulation exercises that I’d like to introduce you to. 

Let’s talk about ENS and ESI for newborn puppies!

What are ENS and ESI for puppies?

Early Neurological stimulation (ENS) and Early scent Introduction (ESI) ENS are simple exercises to which you expose puppies from days 3-16 to help aid their development, resilience and coping mechanisms. 

These early puppy stimulation exercises don’t take long to perform but can pay off huge dividends in the long run. 

Benefits of introducing early puppy stimulation exercises

  • Boost brain development
  • Improves circulation and immune system
  • Stimulates the neurological system
  • Improves stress responses in later life 
  • Encourages a daily physical check of each puppy

ENS Tutorial for newborn puppies

Early Neurological Stimulation is a concept developed by Dr Carmen Battaglia, a breeder, AKC judge, researcher and writer. 

It encompasses tactile stimulation, thermal stimulation and exposure to mild stressors, which improve your puppies’ stress responses. 


Perform these exercises once a day from days 3-16.

What you need

  • Cotton buds
  • Cool towel

How many? 

Five exercises which last 3-5 seconds each. 


Hold each puppy in the ENS positions for 3-5 seconds. 

For the tactile stimulation exercise, rub the cotton bud on the puppy’s toes for 3-5 seconds, then return the puppy to their litter.


Performing ENS exercises each day during this early developmental phase:

  • Introduces puppies to mild stresses in a controlled way.
  • Improves stress responses in later life.
  • Stimulates the neurological system.
  • Improves puppies’ growth, immune and cardiovascular systems.

ESI Tutorial for newborn puppies

Early Scent Introduction is a concept developed by Dr Gayle Watkins, a Golden Retriever breeder, scientist, researcher and competitor in a range of dog sports. 


Perform these exercises once a day from days 3-16.

What you need

  • 13 scents
  • Pen and paper

How many? 

Use a selection of 13 natural scents, no chemicals or meat products. You can use herbs and spices, things from your garden, or training items to make up your collection of scents to introduce. 


Hold the scent in front of the puppy’s nose for 5 seconds per day.

Make a note of the responses to each scent;

+ is a positive response when the puppy actively tries to sniff the scent.

0 is a neutral response when the puppy does not respond in any way.

– is a negative response when the puppy turns its head away from the scent.

ESI should be performed at a different time of day to ENS. If the puppies are feeling mild stress from the ENS, you do not want them to associate that stress with the novel scents you are introducing.


Scent is the way puppies experience the world. Introducing natural scents early on can help:

  • Introduce puppies to new scents in a controlled way.
  • Improves scenting ability in later life.
  • Enhances confidence and stability as adults.
  • Reduce behavioural issues in the long term 

Research has shown that when puppies are exposed to scent at this early age, they have an association and a recognition towards that specific scent.

If your puppy is likely to be used for a service role, detection role or perhaps as a working gun dog, then you can introduce them to “job specific” scents and increase their association with that scent, even at this age.


It’s important not to overdo these exercises. They work so well because puppies of this age are extremely sensitive to stimulation, but overexposure can have detrimental effects. Stick to once a day to ensure you get the balance right. 

This doesn’t replace alternative puppy socialisation methods

These exercises are not a substitute for the normal play, handling and socialisation activities you undertake with your litters. They are intended as an additional boost to help aid your puppy’s development. 

Including socialisation protocols in the raising of your puppies can significantly increase their confidence, adaptability and resilience, meaning a happier life ahead! 

For more support with developing an early puppy socialisation plan, check out our puppy socialisation courses here. 

Rebecca Walters

I’m Rebecca Walters, founder of Pupstarts Breeders. I’m a 5-star licensed dog breeder, an ex-licensing officer, and a woman committed to changing the industry for good.

I want to deliver all the dog breeding information, advice and education you need to be an ethical and reputable dog breeder who makes a difference in the world.

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