How to Build a Dog Birthing Pen

A dog birthing pen, commonly called a whelping box, is essential for the well-being of your dog and her new puppies. The whelping box must be made out of sturdy materials that can be easily cleaned. If you don't have room to store a fully assembled whelping box or you don't expect your dog to have any more puppies, assemble the whelping box with screws instead of nails to make it collapsible. You can find many of the necessary materials secondhand if you search through garage sales or mailing lists such as Freecycle.


Items You'll Need:
• One 4-by-8-foot sheet of smooth plywood
• 1-by-12-inch board
• Contact paper
• Staple gun (optional)
• 1 1/2-inch wood screws and electric screwdriver or nail gun
• Caulk or silicon adhesive
• Washable sheepskins or old blankets and towels

Step 1 - Cut or have your local lumber yard cut the plywood sheet in half width wise so that you have two 2-by-4-foot sections. Cut one of these sections into three equal parts.

Step 2 - Cover one side of each of the pieces with smooth contact paper to make them waterproof. Wrap the contact paper around each of the cut edges and onto the back. If the paper won't stick, secure it with staples.

Step 3 - Make a three-sided wall enclosure with your side panels. Lay your three 16-inch-by-4-foot panels out--contact paper side up--to begin with. Have a partner help you by holding two of the panels with the ends at a 90 degree angle, contact paper side facing inward, while you screw them together. Then screw the third panel in, contact paper facing inward, to complete your three-sided shape.

Step 4 - Lay your floor piece (the largest, 2-by-4-foot piece) on top of the wall enclosure, contact paper side down. Screw this securely into the wall enclosure. When you flip it over, you should have a contact paper-lined box with a floor and three side walls.

Step 5 - Cut the 1-by-12-inch board to the necessary length to complete the wall enclosure on the open fourth side. Line this with contact paper, and then screw it in to complete the whelping box.

Step 6 - Run a thin line of silicone sealant between the floor and wall enclosures and along each joint where the sides screw into each other to prevent leaks.

Step 7 - Lay down your washable sheepskins or old blankets and towels to make a warm, cozy nesting place for your dog and her puppies.


Watch the mother and puppies whenever they are in the box. Inexperienced mothers can accidentally roll over on their puppies, injuring them.

Be careful when using any saws or power tools such as an electric screwdriver. Wear gloves and eye protection.

By Rebecca Chandos

About the Author
Rebecca Chandos has been writing professionally since 2004. Her articles on technology, entrepreneurship, travel and international politics have been published on a number of websites, including USAToday,, and Matador Abroad. Chandos holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Columbia University.