How to Make Whelping Boxes for Small Dogs

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Your dog is having puppies — congratulations! As a pet owner, part of your job is to create a safe, secure space where your pregnant dog feels comfortable birthing and caring for her puppies. You'll want to gather all of the supplies you're going to need for before, during, and after the birth. A whelping box is one of the most important things to provide for your dog. Luckily, it's very easy to make.

A whelping box will keep newborn puppies from getting lost.

What is a whelping box?

A pregnant dog should have a whelping box, which is a secure place where she can birth her puppies. A whelping box helps the mother stay calm. It also stops the puppies from getting lost or scattered.

While large dogs need sturdy whelping boxes made of wood, smaller dogs can use sturdy cardboard boxes that can be easily discarded after the puppies are grown.

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Prepare your dog's whelping box about two weeks before the due date to allow your dog time to get used to it. When it's time for her to have the puppies, she will enter it on her own and begin to give birth.

Eventually, your new puppies will be ready to leave the whelping box and start exploring the world.
Image Credit: Edit_Magyar/iStock/GettyImages

How to make a whelping box for small dogs

Step 1: Find a box

Choose a cardboard box to use for the whelping box. The cardboard box should be large enough that your dog can lie comfortably while stretched on her side but no larger. Ideally, the box should feel like a den, where she will feel enclosed and safe.

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The exact dimensions of the box will vary from dog to dog. However, you can get a good idea of the size you'll need by measuring your dog while she is lying down.

Step 2: Cut a notch

Use a box cutter to cut a rectangular notch in one side of the box. This will serve as the dog's entrance and exit. The notch should be deep enough that your pregnant dog will not drag her belly over the edge as she enters but tall enough that the newborn pups can't get out. A good rule of thumb is that the notch should be about double the width of the dog's body.

A whelping box makes the birthing process as easy and comfortable as possible for your pregnant dog.
Image Credit: Michael Edwards/iStock/GettyImages

Step 3: Line the box

Line the interior of the box with contact paper or linoleum. This will make cleaning up after the birth much easier.

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Cover the lining with newspaper. After the dog has her puppies, you can clean up by throwing away the newspaper and replacing it with old towels. You'll need to change these often, so make sure you have plenty of towels on hand.

Leave the top flaps of the cardboard box attached. Even if you don't close them, the shadows and the sense of enclosure will help your dog stay calm.

Step 4: Enjoy your new puppies

After your dog gives birth, expect the puppies to start venturing out of the whelping box around the age of four weeks. At that point, they're ready to start interacting with humans, and they can be moved to a larger confined area where they can begin to explore the world.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard box

  • Tape measure

  • Box cutter

  • Contact paper or linoleum

  • Newspaper

  • Old towels

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