How we raise our puppies


Rodina Straze Believes Every Moment Matters

Our puppies are an extension of our family.  We always strive to do the best we can to produce healthy, well adjusted, confident puppies for families as well as working homes.

Rodina Straze is proud to offer such an exceptional puppy raising program.   As a Professional Dog Trainer, I understand how important early socialization is to the future success of each and every dog.   

As a dedicated breeder, my goal is to set each puppy up for success utilizing The Puppy Culture program of puppy raising, training, and socialization. In addition we have also implemented our own training protocols developed specifically to benefit the German Shepherd Dog and our clients.  

As a result, you will take home a puppy possessing a solid foundation, who is confident, outgoing and can adjust quickly to new situations.  This is our commitment to making sure each and every puppy receives the best possible start in life during this critical time.   

Below is an overview of the developmental stages that each puppy goes through, the Puppy Culture protocol during that period and our own additional training protocols.

In the first 12-weeks of a puppy's life you have almost a magical ability to shape his future


Prenatal Period


Did you know the health, happiness, and environment of your puppy’s parents, affect the puppies?

During the prenatal period, studies have shown that environmental influences, such as stress, can affect the behavior and health of the semen produced and the fetus.  If the parents are emotional, reactive or stressed then this may produce similar traits and many other health concerns in their offspring.

The brain is very sensitive to perinatal programming. Stress hormones in particular have a powerful influence on brain, body development.  Puppies born of parents that are stressed have different brains, and bodies, than those born of happy, well adjusted parents.  

Prenatal stress causes:

Higher Pre-weaning mortality  

Lower body weight

Lower motor activity scores

Less Bone Mass

Learning Deficits

Impaired Cell Proliferation, 

Lower social scores

Increase in stress hormone levels

We want our puppies to have the best start possible. 

So we ensure our sires and dams are provided what they need to be happy, relaxed and not stressed out.


Some just love relaxing in the shade with their favorite ball


Some of our dogs love watching tv with their favorite toy or nursing puppies

The Neonatal Period: 0 – 14 Days:


Did you know

Newborn puppies are helpless and respond only to warmth, touch, and smell.  They cannot regulate body functions such as temperature and elimination.  But amazing changes are taking place in their little brains and their body weight will double by 10 days.  We take advantage of this period by neurologically "jump starting" the puppies when they are between 3-16 days old. 

ENS-Early Neurological Stimulation Exercises

The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method in an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called "Bio Sensor" was developed. 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 development.  The "Bio Sensor" program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized five exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in 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:

The 5 ENS Exercises ​

1) Tactile stimulation - holding 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. 

2) Head held erect - using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds. 

3) Head pointed down - holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds. 

4) Supine position - hold 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. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds. 

5) Thermal stimulation -use 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 3-5 seconds. 

These five exercises will produce neurological stimulation, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life.  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. 

Benefits of Stimulation

The benefits that have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises are:

Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)

Stronger heart beats

Stronger adrenal glands

More tolerance to stress

Greater resistance to disease

In 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.

Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined 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 littermates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress sound when stressed.  

Puppy Culture, Transitional Period: 14 – 21 Days.


In this amazing week

We see the puppies transform.  Their eyes and ears are open, but sight and hearing is still limited.  Tail wagging begins and the puppies begin to control body functions. They are becoming real puppies who can toddle, and play.

During this time

Did you know that puppies have developmental periods, and those developmental periods are defined by behavioral markers?  It is important for both breeders and puppy owners to be able to correctly identify these behavioral markers, because something that is extremely beneficial one week, could be very harmful in the next week, depending on what developmental period the puppy is in. 

The period between the time the puppies eyes and ears open is known as the Transitional period. This is because useful vision and hearing are thought to be necessary for puppies to enter into the next period of development .  


This week we offer fresh goats milk in a shallow pan for the puppies to start lapping up.  We also start to enrich the puppy’s environment with age appropriate items.  For the transitional period these are tactile items the puppies can explore by scent, sound, and texture.  Enriching the environment optimizes brain development and is continued until the puppies leave for their new homes.


German Shepherds develop very quickly and have a strong desire to be clean.  As soon as their eyes open they will attempt to move away from their sleeping area to potty.  At this time we introduce a small “potty” area for the puppies and a small bed. This helps the puppies to define a sleeping  area and a potty area preserving their natural desire to be clean.  Clean puppies are easier to house train later, and have fewer accidents.  We continue to adapt the potty area from potty pads to litter pans as the puppy's grow.

The Critical Socialization Period: 3 to 12 Weeks

A'Milo z Rodina Straze puppy

Did you know

The critical socialization period in dogs begins at just three weeks old, and is over when the puppies are 12 weeks old?

And, the prevention of common behavior problems begins when the puppies are just three weeks old?

What does it take to socialize a puppy?

Socialization is more than just exposure, it’s a rich blend of skills, experiences, and enrichment.

The Enrichment Effect

Puppies receive an expertly enriched environment, in which the benefits will last a lifetime. This continues every week until the puppies leave.

Here at Rodina Straze we are truly dedicated and take full advantage of the Critical Socialization Period, to help each puppy be the best it can be.  Puppies are ALWAYS raised in our home, with love and full attention to their needs.

Activities by the week


Week 3

  • Puppies are introduced to solid foods and their area begins to expand.
  • The litter box is introduced
  • Puppies begin receiving visitors as socialization starts.
  • Startle Recovery exercises prime puppies for the challenges of a busy life.
  • Foundation exercises for the prevention of separation anxiety.
  • Nails are trimmed weekly so puppies become accustomed to body handling and grooming


Week 4

  • Puppies are moved into a larger weaning pen, with age appropriate enrichment.
  • Emotional Resiliency Exercises are done, giving the puppies the gift of “bounce back” from life challenges.
  • Problem solving games are introduced, these help puppies learn to handle life’s frustrations early.
  • Crate training starts.  Crates are introduced to the weaning pen (doors removed), comfy beds are placed inside to encourage puppies to nap in the crates.

RS additional training and experiences

  • We have a beautiful screened in porch area with age appropriate enrichment equipment for the puppies. By opening the door from the inside puppy area the puppies can come and go as they please.  This area allows them access to fresh air and sunshine at an early age, yet they protected from the elements.  They also experience all the sights and sounds of being outdoors as people and cars go by.
  • Puppies also spend time with our cat "Jack" and Chihuahua "Phoebe" as they both love puppies and this accustoms the puppies to other dogs and cats.


Week 5

  • Puppies learn to communicate with us in socially acceptable ways. Puppies are taught what is called "Manding" which is an automatic sit in front of a person the puppy is interacting with.  It is not a required behavior, or a rule, but rather an acceptable behavior taught to replace jumping on a person. 
  • Clicker training starts and puppies start learning their core skills: Attention, Manding (asking politely), and Come.
  • Fear starts: At five weeks puppies are for the first time, capable of experiencing true fear. We expertly guide the puppies through their fear period, avoiding any experience that might cause lifelong fear problems, and building more emotional resilience as we go along.
  • Crate Training continues puppies are encouraged to run into their crates. We also begin to feed the puppies lunch in their crates.
  • Barrier challenges are introduced, to help the puppy learn to problem solve and handle frustration.

RS additional training and experiences

  • Puppies are introduced to the "Skinner Box"
  • Puppies are moved into their outside Puppy enrichment building and yard during the day.  This specially designed building and yard allows them to have room to run and explore at their own pace on different surfaces and obstacles in or outside.  
  • Puppies spend time in their puppy yard with our Chihuahua "Phoebe" getting them accustomed to small dogs. 


Week 6 -The Curiosity Period ​

We continue to expertly guide puppies with just the right amount of socialization. This week we start Puppy parties:

  • Novel people of all shapes, ages, and sizes are introduced, our expert care ensures the puppies have positive responses during these important “first” meetings, because a scary meeting at this age can cause lifelong fear. Session are kept short, puppies have naps and learn to relax when visitors come over, all skills they will need in their new home
  • Puppies get to practice their training in real life settings, they get to Manding (ask politely) for petting (instead of jumping).
  • Puppies show off their enrichment seeking abilities and build confidence on novel object challenges.  They learn to love strange and unusual footing, heights, and noises.
  • Puppies nap in crate with door open. Eat and have chew time in their crate with the door closed.

RS additional training and experiences

  • Scent games are started to imprint hunt drive.
  • Puppies are exposed to the car and short car rides.
  • Marker words are introduced
  • We start chaining behaviors in fun short training sessions


Week 7

Problem behavior prevention protocols are started.

We teach the puppies to LOVE having someone take their food, food bowl, toys, bones, and other items. This helps prevent resource guarding later.

RS additional training and experiences

This week the puppies are brought into our training center and begin working on more formal skills.

  • sit and down on cue
  • to lure and follow food
  • to target
  • Loose Leash Walking
  • Attention under distraction
  • come when called
  • other fun tricks and behaviors
  • The puppies are also taken on car rides and have their first trip to the Veterinarian for their Health exams.


Week 8

Fear Periods start. Fear periods are a normal part of puppy development, knowing how to deal with them, what to do, and most importantly what not to do, have lifelong implications for the adult dog and it’s family. With our expertise we are able to both recognize when a puppy is experiencing a fear period, to help them through the period, without allowing any trauma that might affect their temperament forever. 

This week our puppies get ready to go home, as long as we recognize the puppy is not presently experiencing a fear period.  We have found this is the best age for our dogs and the bloodlines we breed to transition into their new homes and bond with their new families. 

Information on the Importance of Prenatal Care

ENS - Early Neurological Stimulation