As the last week of pregnancy approaches, your female dog will often begin looking for a secure and comfortable place to have her litter of puppies. Before this time comes, it is essential to create a whelping box so she becomes comfortable with it and knows this is the preferred place to have her puppies.
A whelping box takes the place of a secure den for your dog to give birth to and protect her puppies. The box needs to be large enough for your female dog to move around in, yet small enough that she can keep her pups within reach. The opening of the box should include a step that your dog can step over easily to get out, yet high enough that the pups can’t accidentally wander out when mom is not looking. Because delivery can be messy and new pups are not housebroken, a whelping box made for easy cleaning is essential.
If your dog is already crate- or kennel-trained and finds security in her existing den, this often makes a great whelping box. If the crate has a removable top, consider taking the top off so you have easier access to the pups or your dog in case of an emergency during delivery. Line the crate with blankets or towels to give the mother and pups good traction in the crate.
For larger dogs, a plastic child’s pool is another option. The only problem with this is the surface tends to be slippery for dogs and puppies. Adding blankets or towels is one solution to improve traction and provide a soft surface. Another option is remnant carpet pieces cut to fit inside the pool. This provides traction and can be hosed down for cleaning.
If you breed your dog and may need to use a whelping box on more than one occasion, you may desire a more permanent option. For this, you can create your own whelping box out of plywood and customize it to fit your dog. Do not paint the box as this can be toxic should the pups decide to give it a nibble. Pet stores also offer whelping boxes made of plastic, easy-to-clean material. Regardless of which option you choose, the goal is to provide a safe place for momma and her pups. However, don’t be surprised or upset if your dog does not play along with your plan. She may decide the pile of dirty laundry is the place to deliver instead.
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