A reader asked “If you were buying a puppy, what would you do to stimulate its mind and enhance its potential?”
My answer had several steps. First of all, select the breed and temperament desired, and then look for a breeder who takes the time and effort to socialize and stimulate the pups from day one. Gently handling them each day teaches the pups that someone other than their mother can touch them. Competent breeders take time to teach the newborns lots of things before the pups are ready to go to a new home.
If I was planning on working my grown dog in fun events or in competitions or as a search and rescue dog, I would be sure to select a breeder who has the litter temperament tested. You certainly don’t want a shy, introverted pup to train for search and rescue.
The second step I would take after purchasing the pup is to enroll it in a puppy kindergarten class. There, the puppies get to play with each other for a few minutes, get to be handled (petted) by all the handlers, learn a few basic obedience commands, learn to solve problems (very important brain stimulus) such as putting a toy or treat on one side of a wire screen and the pup on the other side. If the pup is smart, he will go around the edge of the screen to get his reward, though most young pups have to be enticed to move away from the treat before being able to get it. They also are introduced to different sounds, smells and textures, like walking through a trough of crushed ice or on gravel or sand.