The Perfect Whelping Box

For years I have used the standard 5 foot by 4 foot whelping box with side rails to protect pups from being squished against the side of the box. After talking with an old friend, Jody Potter, about how she had whelped her last litter of pups, I decided to try a new way and I love it.

Jody is one of the few people in this country that I consider a real expert on whelping litters and raising puppies. She ran the whelping rooms at Fidelco Guide Dogs for 10 years before leaving and going into a training business for herself. She still breeds several working litters of her own puppies every year.

My whelping rooms are 6 foot wide by 12 feet long. They have walls on three sides and a short three block wall in front with steel bars and a gate above the blocks. I took the box out of the room and replaced it with five bails of cedar chips. This resulted in about 18 inches of chips throughout the room. Just below the heating lamp I made a shallow bowl in the chips and put the 7 day old pups in this depression. I was amazed at the results. I thought they would become stressed because they had been moved from their box. The opposite happened, the pups immediately settled in and fell asleep within 3 or 4 minutes.

What I have found is the puppies seem to love laying in the chips. They are soft, thermometry good and they are warm. Rather remain in a pile like you see in then photo above they sleep in several piles around the room. Some will crawl off and sleep alone. The pups have become much more active than in the whelping box. They scoot around the room when they are hunting milk like men on a mission. There is no question that they will be in better condition than pups raised in a box. I also see better weight gain on the smaller pups. I think this is because the mother can not get away from the litter by getting out of the box and laying away from the litter.

I do have to mention that if someone is going to do this they have to have a female that is house trained or a setup where the bitch can have access to a dog run to relieve herself. During the day I close the door to the dog run because the females are curious and will stand outside and inspect every person or noise around the kennel. So I let her outside for a shot walk every 60 to 90 minutes. Then at night when the kennel is quiet I raise the drop door to the dog run and she can go outside at night. What happens is she will sleep with the litter and go outside to pee and poop.

When the pups were 2 to 3 weeks old Jody swept a section of the chips back and put rugs down. The pups would sleep on the rugs and climb into the chips to relieve themselves. This is the first step to house training a pup.

I normally begin to put my litters outside on raised puppy runs at about 4 to 4 1/2 weeks. These pups are on plastic grates so they stay clean and do not have access to eating poop and getting sick. But this is the subject of another article. So far I can whole heatedly recommend this method of raising your puppies.



This information was provided by: Ed Frawley, Leerburg Video & Kennel for educational purposes only.


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