Dogs, just like humans, need to give birth in appropriate conditions and clean surroundings. They, too, need a hygienic place to ensure the safety and right upbringing of their puppies. A whelping box is just what you need to build.
For those who have no idea what it is, a whelping box is constructed to ensure the safety of mother dog and her young puppies, after they are born. Some dogs just wander around looking for private places to give birth. Sometimes they usually do so inside a closet or at times maybe on your bed as it is warm and cozy. The mess that is created after birth is difficult to clean up and also the safety of the newborn puppies is not ensured.
The box makes it less stressful for the mother dog, as it is her special and private place where she can give birth to her puppies, care for them, feed them, and nurture them. Even the puppies are not scattered about after they are born. They are confined to one place and close to their mother.
Before you start building it, a few things that should be considered are:
Size is Important
The size usually depends upon the breed of your pet. It will be different for a bulldog than it will be for a dachshund. The box should be such that the mother can stretch fully when on her side. Try not to have one in a size in which the puppies are all scattered about. This causes disorientation and insecurity in the mother.
It should be in a place which is safe, secure, warm enough, protected from the cold wind, and where there won't be much disturbances.
Next, choose the material of the box. It should be sturdy enough to safeguard the dog and her puppies and also easy to clean. Puppies have a tendency to chew things, so be careful of that when you choose the material.
You can select a design from the many commercial ones available. But, do follow the basic design which is that one side of the box should be at least 1 foot high while the other 3 sides should be at least 4 feet high. This protects the puppies from the cold draft and also keeps them from escaping. Also it's easier for the mother to jump out whenever she wants to.
Also while carrying out the construction, keep in mind that the box should be raised at least 2 to 3 inches off the ground. This is done again to protect the puppies from the cold draft. Inside the box, you can put pig rails which stick out into the box at least by 1 to 2 inches. This is done for the puppies to snuggle into one corner or if the mother is sleeping against the rail, the puppies will not be squashed even when she rolls back onto the rail.
A Good Lining for the Box
Both, the mother and the puppies, need to be kept warm and cozy. Thus, line the box with warm and soft materials. You can use maybe a synthetic lambskin with a rubber backing or maybe a soft towel. Use materials which can be washed easily and which are also waterproof. Underneath the lambskin, it's better if you put some newspapers in order to absorb the urine, the feces, blood, or any other kind of liquids that may be secreted right after birth and for the next few days as well.
Once you have decided upon the size and all the other requirements, here's how you should go about with the construction:
You will need plywood, screws, screwdriver, drill, and all the other materials that you need to use as for lining and paint and polish.
- The size will depend on your dog's size. Let's say for example, you need a 4 feet by 4 feet box (most of the medium-sized dogs fit in this size). Cut the plywood lengthwise in half so that you have two 8 feet long and 2 feet high parts.
- Now, cut these two parts in half so that you have four, 4 feet long and 2 feet high plywood parts.
- Pick up one section and cut it 1 foot by 1 foot.
- This is used for the door for the mother dog to get out whenever she wants to.
- The rest of the parts will be the walls of the box. Secure these walls with the help of corner brackets.
- Now in each of the walls, cut out a section of 2 x 4 x 8 feet. This will be the 'rails' or the 'pig rails' section in the box.
- Screw two of the rails at least 4 inches off the ground.
- Now trim the opposite sides of the box to fix into the existing rails.
- Paint or polish your box, preferably using waterproof paints.
- Put in some soft towels or line it with synthetic lambskin with a rubber backing, to make the dog bed more warm and cozy.
Your dog will love the privacy and the safety of the box. It will take time for the mother-to-be to adjust to her new place, but you have to train her. This box can be reused in the future as well. So, if your dog is about to become a proud mother, give her a place of her own and all the care that she needs.