Gypsy with her new litter of puppies.
I'm doing imprinting work with the puppies in the litter shown above. Imprinting, during the very early stages of puppy development has shown to seriously impact on the lives of the dogs. In fact, it has so much impact that the U.S. Veterinary Corps swear by it.
Imprinting makes the most of a few seemingly novel exercises, like placing the puppy in a specific body position. It may not seem like much, but the five simple exercises involved in imprinting skyrocket a dog's coping ability, so much so that a puppy who continues with this program, accelerating and sophisticating his training, can theoretically stand in the middle of a battlefield and still do his job, bombs and gunfire all around. (Note: Imprinting sets a dog up to be able to handle this, but here's the deal: The Military dogs go through much more training; imprinting is only the beginning. On top of that, no matter what program a dog goes through, there are still exceptions. Some dogs are quite simply too "soft" to be able to handle that kind of environment, no matter how good the training.)
We added a sixth step to our mix, because we feel that these five exercises, while great, leave out a very important step - it's what we would call a Symbolic Massage, or Body Desensitization. We run our hands systematically over the puppy, touching every area of her body. No area is sacred. We feel in between the pads of her feet, under her belly, over her ear flaps, etc.
In being handled this way, she's very unlikely to develop body issues - ie: many dogs have weirdnesses with their paws. They don't like them being handled and may get quite snippy when Mom or the Groomer pulls out the nail clippers. We simply aren't giving her the option to have this fear.