What is a puppy curriculum and is it important when looking for a cavoodle breeder?

A puppy curriculum refers to a cavoodle breeder's plan for the early socialisation and training of their cavoodle puppies. It typically includes a range of activities and experiences designed to help cavoodle puppies develop essential skills and behaviors, with people and animals, basic obedience training, exposure to different environments and stimuli, and more.

The concept of a puppy curriculum has been around for years, but it has become more popular and widely recognised in recent decades. The first documented puppy curriculum was created in the 1960s by Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist, who developed a puppy socialisation and training program called "Sirius Puppy Training." This program emphasises the importance of early socialisation and training in preventing behaviour problems in dogs.

Today, puppy curriculums are widely used by breeders to help puppies develop essential skills and behaviours, and to prevent behaviour problems later in life. This type of training is also used as an excellent foundation to give cavoodle puppies the best possible start in life and increase their chances of success as therapy dogs. 

Hear from an experienced cavoodle breeder who uses a puppy curriculum to provide families with well-adjusted cavoodle puppies. 

The other day I sat down with Enza from Cavoodled by Enza, a certified Tier 1 puppy evaluator to discuss the puppy program she follows with her cavoodle puppies, why she breeds and the importance of a puppy curriculum. 

Enza is a mum of 3 and has grown up with a passion for all different dog breeds her whole life from owning Jack Russells to Rottweilers to Pomeranians to Labradors, Poodles and Cavaliers. But when I asked her why she chose cavoodles as a breed to go with she said “how could you not”! Which I couldn’t agree with more. 

Enza loves how, “Both the Cavalier's sweet and gentle nature and the Poodle's high energy and intelligence are incorporated, making them such a beautiful breed. On top of that is the bonus of them being hypoallergenic, low shedding and the perfect family dog. I find the Cavoodle suitable for all types of demographic of people, whether you're an older couple or a single person or family, they just seem to mesh well in all different home environments. So they're just a super clever breed and I just love them.”

I went on to ask Enza a little bit more about what a curriculum means to her:

“So a puppy curriculum is something that you implement into your program that will help the puppy reach developmental milestones.

Giving the puppy the best start to life and letting them know that the world is safe. Building trust between them and providing different exposures and environments for the first 8 weeks of their lives. These exposures are really important in a developing puppy and it's super, super crucial to let the puppy know that, hey, I'm safe, the world's safe, you can trust people, and that's what this curriculum really shows them.

And by using a curriculum you're honouring your puppy by finding out exactly what they need, what their needs are, so that your potential puppy families can have their needs met as well by meeting the puppy's needs. In turn, I like to say this creates a once-in-a-lifetime puppy.”

What puppy program do you follow?

“I actually follow the Bad Ass Breeder program, which is a program devised by an American lady. She's also a breeder named Jeanette Florey, she empowers breeders to empower their puppies and gets breeders working together with the same sort of curriculum to avoid puppies being placed in shelter homes or in rescue centres because they've been misplaced incorrectly by breeders to owners because they haven't been assessed correctly. The curriculum is there to create a perfect match between client and puppy.”

Enza, give me a bit of a summary of what you actually do with the puppies each week up until they go home at 8 weeks:


“Basically from day one of birth to day three of birth, there's really minimal handling. Mum needs to get a bond with the puppies and the puppies need to develop a bond with mum. The only time we remove the pup from the whelping box is just to weigh the puppy, to make sure they're gaining weight and give them a quick health check physically over their body and pop them back straight back with mum. 

From day three, we actually start the early neurological stimulation and early scent introduction, for about 14 days and every day we introduce a new scent to the puppy and record their reaction, whether it's a positive, negative or neutral.

After 14 days we actually start doing a 10-step puppy handling curriculum, which basically involves 10 different areas of touching the puppy. So it could be the ears, their gums, rubbing your fingers in their mouth, tugging at their tail, rubbing their back, rubbing their tummies, covering their eyes, touching their nose, rubbing your hands around their collar. All these are teaching the puppy to actually have touch tolerance. 

So what we're saying to the puppy is, hey, in life you may not like being touched in a particular place and it may be uncomfortable. For example, the groomer, cutting their toenails, touching them is very uncomfortable but you're going to have to tolerate it. When they go to the vets, the vet checks their ears, checks their bottom, checks their tails, also checks their legs. Even though they may not like it, and some do, some are very comfortable with the handling, we're teaching them to be compliant. 

Part two of the curriculum is sound. I play lullabies to the puppies every night before bed when their ears start to open which is around the four-week mark and desensitise them with different noises, you know, fireworks, babies crying, trucks, trains, kids playing in a park. They hear this day in, day out, day in day out. 

Around four weeks I also start to introduce novelty items just outside their whelping box and it's things that don't move, nothing that's going to startle them, I don't force them to interact with anything at this point. They can go to the item, smell it, climb over it, walk away from it.

And gradually, as the curriculum goes on, we introduce different tactile surfaces for footing, bridges, under, over, things that move like balls, all different types of objects that they are going to be exposed to when they go home basically. 

What kind of follow-up support or resources do you provide to puppy buyers to help them continue their puppy's training and socialisation?

“We give the owners the actual curriculum from 8 to 16 weeks with a list of different exposure places. So they can take the puppy anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks as long as the paws don't touch the ground. They can still take the puppy to the park, to a cafe, to a school ground to be introduced to different exposures as this is their critical socialisation time.”

Do you think cavoodle breeders or all breeders should be following a puppy curriculum? 

“I think if you're a breeder and you're taking on the responsibility of the breed that also involves assessing the personality and temperament of the puppy and how you're raising them while they're in your care. I think you're doing your puppies an injustice if you don't have some sort of curriculum in place.

Probably one of the most important parts of the curriculum is my duty to recommend, I can't force a client to take a particular puppy, but I can recommend according to the client's needs what puppy would best suit their needs. My first and foremost is honouring my puppies and making sure that they go to a home that meets their needs.”

Surprise! mycavoodle is now going to be part of the Badass Breeder Curriculum Program!

I just want to thank Enza for her time and support, I’ve known Enza from early on when I started mycavoodle, she has been a number one supporter of my brand from day one and has such a beautiful kind heart. She is so knowledgeable, easy to get on with and has been an excellent mentor for myself especially when I had my own first litter of cavoodle puppies, Enza was kind enough to always pick up the phone with any questions I had.  

She’s also empowered me to do better and be the best breeder I can be and that's why I have joined the Badass Breeder Program and my next litter of cavoodle puppies will be following this curriculum. 


cavoodle breeder


You can follow enza on instagram @cavoodled_by_enza or visit her website at cavoodledbyenza.com.au